Seniors Gianna DeRosa, Taylor Flint, Lucia Liverio, and Giuliana Pritchard celebrated their last regular-season home game with family and friends at senior night on Monday as the Lady Rams scored a season high 85-38 win over Schuylerville at Amsterdam High School.
“It’s meant a lot to play with this group,” Amsterdam senior Lucia Liverio said. “They are my family. It will be different playing without them next year.”
Liverio is one of two Lady Rams seniors who plans to continue her basketball career at the college level next year. She and her three senior varsity co-captains started and played most of the game Monday night displaying the teamwork and leadership skills that have helped define the Lady Rams program over the past several years.
“All four of them are leaders on and off the court,” Amsterdam coach Eric Duemler said of the seniors. “They put the team and family first. I can trust them, and they work exceptionally hard. They are invested in the sport, and have leadership skills.”
That hard work and leadership was on display from the opening tip as the four seniors took the floor along with freshman Jackie Stanavich, and burst out to a 15-0 lead. Pritchard opened the scoring with a drive to the basket for two and added the free throw. Stanavich took a pass from Liverio and made it 5-0 AHS. Pritchard took a pass from Flint and suddenly it was 7-0 Amsterdam. Moments later, Stanavich took an assist from DeRosa and the lead ballooned to 13-0. Liverio then capped off the run by tipping the ball away from Schuylerville’s Emily Vallee and converted a lay up for the first two of her career best 16 points. Hunter Phillips finally got the Lady Black Horses on the board ending the AHS run, but Taylor Flint made a determined effort into the Schuylerville defense and got two more from the line for the Lady Rams. Three of the four seniors had scored as time faded in the first quarter, and DeRosa made it four when she connected from beyond the arc for the first of her career high ten points igniting an 11-3 AHS run that helped close out the opening period with the Lady Rams in front 28-6. The most defining play came when all four seniors contributed to a score. DeRosa followed up her three with a steal at mid court and passed to Liverio, who found Flint in the corner for what looked like a possible three, but Flint saw Pritchard cutting to the rim and tossed the ball to her teammate for the score.
“It’s nice when the seniors play as exceptional as all four did,” Coach Duemler said. “This team is so unselfish. They look for each other and get assists.”
As the second quarter began, Amsterdam started substituting for the starters. One of the first off the bench was Antonia May, who has been in the starting lineup throughout the season. May and Liverio then proceeded to score nine of the Lady Rams fourteen points in the second quarter, with May getting six points including a three on an assist by Pritchard, and two more on an assist from Stanavich. May then returned the favor sending a pass Stanavich’s way on a back door cut to the rim. The AHS freshman showed the same teamwork ethic as the seniors, and those efforts gave AHS a 42-16 advantage at the half.
“It feels good to play with Toni (May),” remarked Liverio on the opportunity to play on the varsity team with her niece. “I grew up wanting to play the game with her. She’s real family, and she’s my best friend.”
The starters returned to the court in the opening period of the second half where Pritchard put up 14 of her game high 26 points including a pair of three-point shots, marking the first game where she’s converted on more than one attempt from beyond the arc. Pritchard also assisted on scores by Liverio and DeRosa, and took an assist from Liverio on an inbound play helping the Lady Rams take a 64-26 lead into the fourth quarter.
“The way we all play together, everyone had something tonight,” Pritchard said. “It’s fun to see our chemistry and how we play, work together, and just have fun with it.”
The younger Lady Rams were on the court to start the fourth quarter with May, Stanavich, Elena Fedullo, Charli Beekman, Madison Carmona, and Kim Lopez all contributing in the win. The seniors returned at the halfway mark and Liverio and DeRosa each scored seven points in the quarter helping put the finishing touches on the win. Amsterdam scored better than 20 points in three of the four quarters and outscored Schuylerville 43-22 in the second half. As the last two minutes counted down, each of the four seniors, one by one, left the floor with a round of applause from the crowd.
“It’s so special,” Pritchard said. “I’ve been on varsity for five years, and it feels great that we’re going out together. This is the best group. We’re like four sisters, and this is an emotional time.”
The emotions from senior night will only last will only last a short time before it’s back to work preparing for the Section 2 playoffs. Amsterdam (18-2, 16-2 Foothills) will play in a very competitive Class A bracket featuring several Foothills Council opponents including Scotia-Glenville, Gloversville, and Queensbury. Defending sectional champion Averill Park (18-2) is expected to be the top seed with the Lady Rams vying to be the number two seed along with Academy of Holy Names (19-1) from the Colonial Council.
“Our league is very competitive,” Coach Duemler said. “It’s not an easy stretch in Class A.”
What helps the Lady Rams cause to get the number two seed and host quarterfinal games is the fact they own six wins over top contending teams in Class A, all from the Foothills Council. Amsterdam has defeated Scotia- Glenville and Gloversville each once, and both Queensbury and South Glens Falls twice. Scotia- Glenville and Gloversville have been ranked in the New York State Sportswriters Association (NYSSWA) poll during the 2017-2018 high school basketball season.
Pritchard finished the night with yet another “double-double” gathering 16 rebounds to compliment her 26 points. She is now 18 points shy of scoring 500 for the season. Liverio was next with her varsity career best 16 points, followed by ten points from Stanavich, and a varsity career best ten from DeRosa, who also has family ties in the Lady Rams basketball program with two sisters playing the sport including Francesca, who finished the season on a junior varsity team that tied for the Foothills Council JV title with a 19-1 record.
“We grew up together playing the game,” DeRosa said of her sisters. “It’s fun. I got to teach them what I learned, and watch them grow.”
May finished with eight points including another three, Beekman scored five points, Flint and Fedullo scored four points each, Lopez added two points, and Carmona had a rebound and an assist for Amsterdam.
Emily Vallee led Schuylerville with 18 points. Vallee was one of several players in Section 2 to pass 1,000 career points, reaching the mark two weeks ago. Kylee Haviland was next for the Lady Black Horses with six points, followed by Cassie Patrick and Brianna Signor with four points each, and Cassie Darrah, Devynn Hough, and Hunter Phillips with two points each. Schuylerville came into the game with eight seniors on their roster including Vallee, Darrah, Patrick, Signor, Hough, Valerie Bowden, Hailey Abruscato, and Caitlin Kelleher, all were recognized before the game.
Amsterdam honored its four seniors and their families in a pre-game ceremony, along with team manager, senior Haley Madej. The Lady Rams basketball program also recognized the work of Giuliana Pritchard’s mom Carmie, who has organized the Lady Rams booster club over the last five years.
Amsterdam will learn its opponent when the seeds for all the Section 2 brackets are determined on Wednesday morning in Saratoga Springs.
When I first started writing for the Compass four years ago, three of the four seniors on the this year’s Lady Rams varsity were freshman playing on the JV team. Gianna DeRosa, Taylor Flint, and Lucia Liverio all had the raw talent that would one day get them to the varsity level. But just as important as talent, they have each contributed their unique character to the team effort.
Gianna DeRosa reminded me of former Lady Rams players like Liz Hildreth, who never let lack of height keep them from playing basketball. Time after time she has shown that she can score and rebound against players twice her size. With no fear in her eyes, she battles for a rebound knowing that someone could knock her to the floor. It’s not about how tall you are, it’s how you play the game, and when DeRosa’s on the court, her game is six feet tall.
Taylor Flint is the perfect example of undying determination. During a past Lady Rams showcase game against a team from Canada, the AHS junior varsity team had all they could handle with a bigger and stronger opponent. But Flint was undaunted. While most of her teammates settled for jump shots, she drove into the heart of the defense letting them know she wasn’t about to stop trying. It’s no surprise that I’ve heard Coach Duemler say to her “You are the team’s eyes Taylor.” Now, she’s a senior captain, and often thinks of and sees what the opposing team doesn’t.
Lucia Liverio rose to the varsity level as a sophomore, and had the difficult task of leading the Lady Rams offense as the team’s point guard when Kaitlin Devine went down with an injury before the season began. Her teammates showed confidence in her from day one and she has never let them down. Always putting the team first, she’s the definition of unselfishness her coach has often spoke about. There have been countless times when I’ve noticed Liverio had a chance to score, but instead opted to assist. There is no listing in the Section 2 record book for assists, but Liverio is probably near the top of that list.
Giuliana Pritchard is the heart in the Lady Rams game. When I first interviewed Pritchard for a story it was after Amsterdam’s victory over an unbeaten Glens Falls team in 2015. Pritchard’s rebounding efforts were a decisive factor in the win and she said to me, “They were strong, we were stronger.” She’s made sure that her team has been true to that ever since. She joined the varsity team as an eighth grader, and as a freshman showed the potential to have an outstanding career. It’s remarkable what she has accomplished, and has yet to accomplish. But, she never wanted the spotlight on her, the team always comes first. As she once said, “It’s not about one of us, it’s about all of us.”
As the Lady Rams head toward sectionals, the team will need to rely on those leadership qualities to give them the best shot at their goal of a sectional title.