With a final score typical of an NBA game, the Amsterdam Running Rams and Queensbury Spartans engaged in a fast-paced, high-scoring contest on Friday night at Amsterdam High School. When the final horn sounded, Amsterdam celebrated senior night with a 101-93 win over their Foothills Council rival.
“It feels good to finally get to one hundred points,” Amsterdam senior Louis Fedullo said. “The game against Broadalbin-Perth was a shot to the heart but, we got it tonight.”
Amsterdam had fallen short of the century mark in a win last month over the Patriots, but with 1:06 to play in the fourth quarter on Friday, AHS sophomore Ozzie DeJesus sank the first of two free throws and the AHS bench and crowd erupted. DeJesus netted the second one, and Amsterdam had reached a goal set early in the year. They reached another one moments later when the game ended and Amsterdam came away with a much needed victory over a Class A foe, and one that could help them earn a top two seed in the Section 2 playoffs. Getting there though was no easy task as the game had the appearance of a sprint race.
“What a pace,”Amsterdam coach Tim Jones said, “Two teams that like to use transition. We were fortunate to have the last run.”
The Running Rams made two key 10-0 runs, one in the third quarter and another in the fourth quarter that helped put some distance between them and the Spartans. Amsterdam used a combination of long distance shooting, accurate passing, and more close-to-the-rim, high percentage shots to gain the advantage. The common factor in both runs was defense.
Trailing 48-44 at the start of the second half, Fedullo and fellow senior DeanAnthony Colon tied things up with back to back scores. Queensbury’s Jeff VanAnden put it back in the Spartans favor with a drive to the rim before AHS senior Willie Brown responded with a three point shot that gave the Rams a slim lead. Fedullo complimented that basket after forcing a Spartans turnover with two more and AHS was up by three 53-50. The Rams comeback effort appeared to have been dealt a bad turn however when Colon was injured on the next play and was helped from the court. It turned out to be a rallying point, and when play resumed Amsterdam went on it’s first ten-point run.
AHS senior Jeffrey Brennan answered a basket by Queensbury’s Cameron Bleibtrey, and ignited the Rams offense. Brennan’s triple was one of only three by the Rams on the night but it came at a crucial point in the game. Amsterdam had it’s biggest lead of the half, and then turned up the defense.
Back to back steals by Brown and Fedullo turned into points by DeJesus and Brown expanding the AHS lead. Fedullo capped off the run with a put back and suddenly the Rams had some breathing room at 63-52. Queensbury chipped away behind Cameron Bleibtrey and Matt Chase eventually narrowing it to a three point game at 65-62, but AHS went on another run, this time eight points keyed by DJesus and Brown helping Amsterdam take a 73-67 lead into the fourth period. Once again forcing Spartans mistakes was a difference maker.
“Once we applied pressure they weren’t knocking down shots,” Brown said.
Queensbury did a lot of its scoring from long distance making a total of 13 three point shots, seven coming in the first half. The Rams half court pressure defense denied Queensbury chances to take those shots and helped Amsterdam get the lead.
Queensbury got a three from Patrick Conway starting a six point spurt by the Spartans and closing the gap to four 81-77, then later to 83-79 after VanAnden drove in for two more. Fedullo and Chase matched basket for basket before the Rams went on their second 10-0 outburst. Tristan Green started it with a put back making the score 87-81, and DeJesus, Fedullo, and Brown scored before Green netted a pair of foul shots leaving Amsterdam with a 95-81 advantage with less than three minutes to play. Steals and rebounds were a factor during the Rams fourth quarter stretch for the finish.
“We were contesting shots in the first half but they were going in,” Coach Jones said. “We made some defensive adjustments in the second half, and got deflections at the right times. Those ten to nothing runs were crucial. We’re tough to beat in the open court, and rebounding the ball gave us some distance.”
Doing a better job under the boards helped AHS get to the free throw line in the closing minutes. DeJesus and senior Ryan Bradt made four of six from the line, and Fedullo came up with a big offensive rebound to boost the lead to 99-88 before DeJesus made two of the biggest free throws of the season for Amsterdam (14-3 Foothills Council). It was a fitting conclusion to one of the biggest offensive outpourings in Section 2 basketball this season. The two teams combined to score 194 points. The win also gave cause for celebration as it came on senior night, and the final regular season home game for Bradt, Brown, Colon, and Fedullo.
Amsterdam started all four seniors in the lineup along with junior Jeff Brennan, and jumped out to a 24-18 lead after the opening eight minutes. All four seniors scored in the game with Brown netting a game high 30 points and Fedullo close behind with 28 points. DeJesus also scored 28 after sitting out the first quarter. Bradt finished with four points as did Green, Brennan scored five points, and Colon had two points for the Running Rams.
Queensbury outscored AHS 30-20 in the second quarter to take the lead at halftime. Bryce Bleibtrey hit four triples in the second quarter helping him score 16 of his team high 28 points in the eight minutes before the half. Cameron Bleibtrey complimented that with 22 points, VanAnden added 17 points, Patrick Conway bucketed 14 points, Chase netted eight, and Tom Scott- Lavino scored four points for Queensbury.
Amsterdam travels to Schuylerville on Tuesday to wrap up their Foothills Council schedule. The Running Rams own two victories over both Queensbury, and Scotia- Glenville which should help them when the Section 2 Class A playoff seeds are announced on Wednesday.