The Amsterdam Lady Rams basketball team fought off a challenge from the Pittsfield, MA Generals on Wednesday at the 2017 Amsterdam Holiday College Showcase at Amsterdam High School, thanks in part to a career-best performance by freshman Antonia May who contributed 13 points to the 66-59 win.
“She showed what she’s capable of doing,” Amsterdam coach Eric Duemler said. “She can get to the rim. We needed that out of her. She played great.”
May did all of her scoring in the first half, but it was a play late in the fourth quarter that put an end to Pittsfield’s last chance to gain momentum and get the win. Pittsfield had endured everything the Lady Rams could throw at them and trailed by only four, 60-56 after a basket by Toni Satrape with less than two minutes to play. May found herself alone on defense attempting to stop Jordyn Lummus, who took an outlet pass from Taea Bramer and headed for the rim. May timed her jump perfectly and blocked Lummus’ shot that wound up in the hands of Lady Rams forward Giuliana Pritchard who passed across the court to teammate Taylor Flint. Lucia Liverio took Flint’s pass and coasted in for a score leaving a pair of Pittsfield defenders steps behind her. The momentum stayed with the Lady Rams, and they found their balance, made their free throws, and sealed the win.
“I’m really happy for Toni,” Amsterdam senior captain Giuliana Pritchard said. “I always knew she could play that way. We see it every day in practice.”
May scored ten of her 13 points in the first quarter and provided depth to Amsterdam’s game when the battle to get to the rim raged throughout the game. May’s first three increased the AHS lead to 7-1, just before a five point spurt by the Generals. Her second doubled the Lady Rams lead to 16-8 and got the Pittsfield players attention as they shouted to each other ‘don’t let her shoot’ when May next touched the ball. May then put the ball on the floor and took it to the rim following a three from Pittsfield’s Alexis Garvey to keep AHS up 18-11. The freshman’s performance helped counter a strong first quarter from Garvey and Bella Aitken, who teamed up for 12 points, and came at the right time when the Lady Rams front court trio of Pritchard, Elena Fedullo, and Jackie Stanavuch were held to a combined total of eight points in a frantic first quarter. AHS senior guard Gianna Derosa scored three points in the closing minutes of the opening period to keep AHS in front 21-19.
Pittsfield surged in front in the opening minutes of the second quarter with Garvey, Bramer, Aitken, and Lummus scoring during an 8-2 Generals run keyed by quickness and aggressive rebounding. Often the play didn’t end when a Lady Rams player had a rebound in their hands as Pittsfield players used every opportunity to tip or knock it away. Those chances plus a press defense put the Generals in front 27-23 with only a drive to the rim by Derosa preventing an even deeper Pittsfield run.
“They’re aggressive,” Coach Dumler said of the Pittsfield team. “They take chances and risks with rebounding. We hadn’t faced that before. They pressed and took chances with offensive rebounding.”
Amsterdam answered the challenge with strong front court play, a little height and taking better care of the ball. Fedullo scored on a put back cutting the lead to two, and Pritchard took a pass on the run from May to tie the game at 27-27. A free throw by Stanavich put the lead back in AHS’ favor and started a 14-5 run by the Lady Rams to close out the half with AHS in front 37-32. Pritchard scored six of her team high 16 points in the second quarter and Fedullo tallied four of her 13 for Amsterdam.
May’s third triple boosted that total and countered three-point attempts by Pittsfield. The Lady Rams were getting to the rim, but converting from the free throw line became another challenge.
The third quarter began with the Lady Rams plying a three- two zone defense that created problems for the Pittsfield guards. Fedullo and Pritchard scored to boost the lead to 41-32, but Aitken responded with five straight points for the Generals again cutting the lead to four. The Lady Rams continued to battle their way through, but on three straight attempts came up empty, even when being sent to the line.
“It became a psychological thing,” Coach Duemler said. “We have to make a couple of foul shots to get past it. We shoot a high percentage in practice, and we’re all capable free throw shooters.”
Lucia Liverio made a pair of free throws to break the negative streak and keep AHS ahead. Again the Lady Rams fought off another challenge from Pittsfield with Liverio scoring five points in the third quarter complimented by an old school spin move under the basket by Fedullo giving Amsterdam its only double-digit lead at 48-38. The Lady Rams were picking up fouls and were in the bonus with 4:58 left in the third period, but that advantage accounted for only three points from the charity stripe. Amsterdam led 51-44 headed to the fourth, but Pittsfield wasn’t out of energy or chances and continued to show why that were a defending MA regional champion.
Aitken, Satrape, and Braemer scored on an early fourth quarter run and the AHS lead dwindled to 51-49. Liverio stemmed the tide with an end-to-end three-point play giving AHS some breathing room. Garvey’s last points, a three from the left side cut it to two again, but Fedullo and Pritchard continued to work to the rim and along the way draw fouls including the fifth on Garvey, who finished with ten points. Fedullo and Pritchard made good on their attempts improving the Lady Rams free throw percentage and answering yet another Pittsfield challenge. Lummus and Satrape connected to cut it back to four leading to May’s final stopper on defense. Amsterdam ended up with a 21 for 44 from the free throw line, while Pittsfield made fewer trips and was 9 for 17.
“We handled the pressure,” Coach Duemler said. “We shot better from the free throw line in the fourth quarter, and when we attacked the basket it got them in foul trouble.”
Pritchard (16 points), May (13 points), Fedullo (13 points), and Liverio (12 points) gave the Lady Rams a balanced scoring effort. Stanavich finished with five points and added 11 rebounds nicely complimenting the 16 boards by Pritchard. Derosa had five timely points and a pair of assists, Liverio had six assists, Taylor Flint scored one point and added a pair of assists, and Charli Beekman had one point for Amsterdam (7-0, 6-0 Foothills Council).
Pittsfield was led by Aitken’s game high 24 points, 15 in the second half. However, Aitken was one of few Generals players to avoid foul trouble and make it to the basket against Amsterdam’s zone.
“She was on a championship team,” Coach Duemler said of Aitken. “They have a lot of experience with players like Aitken and Lexi Garvey, and they were strong and made shots. Pittsfield was a good test for us.”
“Our first non-league game and it was nice to have a challenge,” Pritchard said. “They were aggressive and gave us some trouble on boards. Playing in a zone defense gave us confidence. We move together when we’re in a zone defense. I love that we have ten players, not five starters and five bench players, but ten players who all trust each other and can be happy for each other.”
Amsterdam will have some time off before its next game on January 4, 2018 at Quensbury. The last time the two clubs met was in the Section 2 Class A semi- finals with Amsterdam winning to secure their second straight appearance in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) Section 2 Class A final. Tip time for the game on Jan. 4 is set for 7pm.
“I’m excited to play Queensbury,” said Pritchard. “They’re a tough team and I think they will be a challenge. It will be good to see a different style of play.”