Lady Rams take South Division title in overtime

They led only only twice. Once when it mattered most – in the end. The Amsterdam Lady Rams varsity basketball team found yet another way to win Friday night, and did so in dramatic fashion. Autumn Duemler scored on a layup with 0.6 seconds remaining in overtime, completing an incredible comeback, 49-47 over Scotia-Glenville at Amsterdam High School in a battle of two of the top 25 ranked Class A girls teams in New York State. Nina Fedullo had an “MVP” night scoring 35 points and collecting 18 rebounds, but it was an assist on the basket by Duemler that was her most important contribution.

Tied at 47-47 in closing seconds of the four minute overtime period, Fedullo intercepted a pass at the Amsterdam end of the floor and led her team down the court. The Lady Tartans defense converged on her as she moved toward the basket, but Fedullo found Duemler open along the baseline for the score bringing the crowd to its feet in applause.

“I was looking for an easy basket,” Fedullo said on the game winning play. “I looked up and Autumn was wide open for an easier basket. She was the next open man.”

Amsterdam led at only one other point in the game, at 43-42 after a layup by Fedullo with just under two minutes to play in the extra period. The Lady Rams never led during the 32 minutes of regulation play and trailed the Lady Tartans by as many as 11 points after the first quarter. Determination and defense were deciding factors in their recovery against a Scotia Glenville (13-2) team that was also on a 13 game win streak.

“The girls don’t panic,” Amsterdam head coach Eric Duemler said of his team, that added Scotia Glenville to it’s list of comeback wins including Schalmont, Johnstown, and Queensbury. “They came back and took it one possession at a time. We used a bunch of different defenses tonight. That’s where it started with our defense.”

Trailing 16-5 after the first eight minutes, Fedullo connected on a three point shot from the corner on the Lady Rams first possession of the second quarter. The sophomore forward then intercepted a pass by SG’HS point guard Cassie Semerad and worked her way up the court. Attracting Lady Tartans defenders like a magnet, Fedullo found Caitlin Gannon open for another three cutting the lead in half.

After a Lady Tartans score boosted the lead back to seven, Giuliana Pritchard grabbed one of her 10 rebounds on the night and put it back for her only score of the game. Scotia-Glenville’s Nicole Conley (14 pts) responded with a three pushing the lead to 21-13, but steals by Gannon and Maria Lamonto were turned into points on the free throw line by Fedullo, who scored eight of the Lady Rams last nine points of the half as AHS closed on a 9-2 run. Autumn Duemler added a free throw after a key defensive rebound cutting the lead to only one, 23-22 at halftime. Fedullo scored all of Amsterdam’s points in the first quarter and 11 of AHS’ 17 points in the second. Nine of that point total were from the free throw line.

“She’s a great player,” AHS senior captain Caitlin Gannon said about Fedullo. “She knows how to draw fouls and put the ball up when we need it.”

Gannon had the task of guarding Scotia-Glenville’s leading scorer Caitlin Estes when the Lady Rams showed a “man to man” defense. Estes scored nine of her team high 17 points in the first quarter, but was held to only eight points for the rest of the game thanks to a persistent and intelligent defense by Gannon and her teammates. The senior AHS captain was one of only four Lady Rams to score on the night coming through with nine points, all on three point shots and at key moments of the game keeping the Lady Rams within striking distance. After Scotia-Glenville attempted to pull away in the third quarter opening on a 6-0 run, a triple by Gannon kept it a one possession game at 28-25. In the early stages of the fourth quarter and after a score by Semerad, Gannon’s last three cut the lead to one, 33-32. Gannon’s decision making on the court kept her team in the game, one that was for the top spot in the Foothills Council’s South division.

“This is the game we worked for all season,” Gannon said. “We pulled through and won. This was the game of the season.”

Scotia-Glenville tried to pull away and led by as many as five in the fourth quarter on clutch baskets from Conley, Estes, and a three point shot by Carle McNulty that had the Lady Tartans up 40-35. Fedullo scored the last nine points in the quarter for Amsterdam getting assists by Gannon, Lamonto, and Brady Santiago. Fedullo tied the game at 41-41 when the Lady Rams patiently worked the ball around the court and into her hands. The Lady Tartans fought back to take the lead 46-43 after Fedullo’s go ahead shot in overtime getting baskets from Estes and freshman Juliana Geniti, but Fedullo answered on a pair of free throws, and later on a strong move to the rim setting the stage for the final shot.

“This was the biggest game of the year,” Fedullo said. “We have to play 110 percent all of the time. We definitely have to execute and see whats there and make the best of it. Take it one game at a time, practice hard and focus on the next game.”

Autumn Duemler added five rebounds to her three points for AHS. Santiago grabbed four rebounds, and both Lamonto and Kaitlyn Devine chipped in with two rebounds and two assists. Semerad, McNulty, and Geniti each had three points, Mary Kate Palleschi added two points, and Alayna Landolfo added five points for the Lady Tartans cause.

Amsterdam (10-0 Foothills, 13-2 overall) will be in action next at Schuylerville on Tuesday before hosting the Lady Patriots of Broadalbin-Perth on Friday for ”Senior Night”. The Lady Rams came into the contest with Scotia-Glenville a spot behind the Lady Tartans at No.16 in the girls NYSHSPAA Class A poll and could move up when the next rankings are announced.

Rankings however, don’t always reflect the amount of effort a team shows during their games.

“What I care more about is the effort they showed tonight,” Coach Duemler said of his team.”We were impatient to start in our offense and had our backs against the wall, but they came back and pulled through. I’m proud of them.”

The Lady Rams captured the South Division title with the win and will play a crossover game against the winner of the North Division on February 13, at the Glens Falls Civic Center for the overall Foothills Council title.

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.