Lady Rams top Corcoran in Holiday Showcase

As the Amsterdam Lady Rams varsity basketball team took the floor Saturday afternoon in their first game of the 2014 Amsterdam Holiday College Showcase, members of the St. Laurent, Canada team cheered. The Lady Rams wore their purple road jerseys and were the visiting team on the scoreboard. These things may have seemed odd to first time spectators at the Amsterdam High School gym. There was nothing odd however in the Lady Rams latest win as a consistent defense and depth at both ends of the court propelled Amsterdam to a 63-29 win over Corcoran High School.

A year ago when the two teams met it took overtime to decide a winner, but this time around the Lady Rams only trailed once and that was after the opening tip on a basket by Corcoran’s Brandi Fowler. AHS forward Giulianna Pritchard worked her way inside battling Corcoran’s front court and scored the next two baskets giving Amsterdam a lead it never relinquished. Moments later, AHS point guard. Kaitlin Devine tipped away a pass by Fowler and sprinted down court for a layup. The Lady Rams defense was up to the challenge. Leading 9-4 after one quarter, Devine stole another pass at mid court and found Maria Lamonto in the corner for another score. The Lady Rams defense was performing as it has the previous three games, forcing turnovers and jump starting the AHS offense.

“That’s what we preach in practice,” said Amsterdam head coach Eric Duemler on the tips and deflections caused by the AHS defense. “That’s where our defense starts.”

Corcoran responded with a 5-0 run midway through the second quarter led by Fowler and Mia Gallipeau. After a free throw by Deonna Jackson cut the lead to 16-11, AHS needed an answer with two starters on the bench after picking up fouls. They found that answer in senior guard Caitlin Gannon who drilled a basket from beyond the three-point arc and ended any thoughts Corcoran had of tying the game before halftime. Amsterdam went into the break leading 24-17.

“I look at the entire court to see my options,” said Gannon who earlier had collected an offensive rebound and found Lomanto for a three-point basket. “I look to pass to my teammates. If I have no options and I have an open shot, I take it.”

Gannon found that open shot again and connected early in the second half giving AHS a 29-17 lead. Devine was once again the quickest player on the court with a steal to open the third quarter and one to end it. Gannon’s third and final three point play of the game boosted the lead to 41-23 with one quarter left to play. The Lady Rams meanwhile provided plenty of options and before it was over 12 Lady Rams were in the scoring column.

“We have players from off the bench that come out and are ready to play,” said Gannon who finished with nine points and two rebounds. “And they are all good players.”

Kayla Abbatisti and Tessa Filiberto came off the bench and connected from three-point range in the fourth quarter. Ravyn Roach grabbed three rebounds and two points, and Autumn Duemler who entered the game and scored early in the first half when Amsterdam dealt with some foul troubles, finished with six points and a team high six rebounds. The Lady Rams physical play gave them a rebounding advantage throughout the game. AHS had a 19-17 edge under the boards after the first half and 33-23 for the game.

“The first half was a battle,a grind,” said Coach Duemler. “Corcoran was playing more physical and they were getting second and third chance shots. Our girls played strong, took care of the basketball and made shots. This was a complete game for our girls. We out-rebounded Corcoran by ten rebounds.”

Thirteen Lady Rams had at least one rebound against Corcoran. Pritchard’s five boards were second to Duemler’s team high six. Nina Fedullo hauled in four rebounds. Roach and Grace Catena were next on the list with three each. Amsterdam was led in scoring by Lomanto and Devine who each had ten points. When not stealing the ball on defense, Devine was key in assists on the majority of Amsterdam’s possessions.

“Kaitlyn Devine is improving every game,” Coach Duemler said. “She’s making good decisions at point guard.”

Fedullo finished with six points, Brady Santiago added three and was one of five Lady Rams to hit from three-point range. Catena and Roach had two points each, and Braelin Aldi had one point. Fowler’s nine points led Corcoran. Iris Williams contributed six points. Gallipeau, Cindaria Hairston, and Nazjhea Thompson collected four rebounds each.

Amsterdam (3-0 Foothills, 4-2 overall), earned its fourth straight victory since returning from a trip to Canada that opened the 2014 season. The Lady Rams will be in action Sunday against Colonial Council powerSchalmont.HaileeMetzold led the Lady Sabres to a victory over St. Laurent ‘B’ in their first game and in the process, Metzold passed the 1,000 points scored mark for her high school basketball career. The tip-off is set for 6pm.

“We really wanted to win this tournament,” said Devine. “It’s our tournament. Amsterdam in the Foothills is something not to mess with. Our team is 14 players deep.”

The Lady Rams junior varsity team will open Sunday’s schedule with a 9:30am tip time against St. Laurent (Canada) B team. The Amsterdam Holiday College Showcase features 10 teams from New York State and Canada. The rest of the Sunday’s schedule is as follows:

Schenectady vs. Tamarac (11am), St. Laurent vs. Shenendehowa (12:45pm), Bishop Kearney vs. Guilderland (2:30pm), Corcoran vs. Kingston (4:15pm), Schalmont vs. Amsterdam (6pm).

Scott Mulford

Scott Mulford has been covering local sports for over 20 years. He previously wrote for the Amsterdam Star and The Free Press of the Mohawk Valley.