Lady Rams scrimmage Shenendehowa, prepare for sectionals

The Amsterdam Lady Rams varsity basketball team and their hosts, the Shenendehowa Lady Plainsmen varsity basketball team, were training partners last Friday morning at the Clifton Park campus giving the two teams a chance to scrimmage before their quest for titles in the 2015 Section 2 New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) girls high school basketball tournament.

“We’re looking for small victories,” Amsterdam head coach Eric Duemler said following the workout session. “Executing, making good passes, getting steals, and the small things that help our game.”

The two teams practiced together before playing three periods of ten minutes each in a controlled scrimmage. Both teams showed the other drills they work on in practice sessions to prepare for games. The Lady Rams featured their “20 layups in two minutes” drill where players in groups of three rotate on and off the court trying to make 20 layups in two minutes, using both ends of the floor. According to Coach Duemler the most layups the Lady Rams have converted using the drill is 22. Shenendehowa showed their “2 on 1” drill involving two offensive players and one defensive player trying to stop them from scoring. The two squads then broke up into groups working together in half court contests in intervals of four minutes each. The teams were able to draw on the experience of playing a team from St. Laurent Canada. The Lady Rams played a pair of games in Montreal to start their season, and the Lady Plainsmen faced one of those same teams at the Amsterdam Holiday College Showcase at AHS in December. The scrimmage was a chance for two of the top ranked schools in Section 2 to learn from each other.

“This was an opportunity for us to play a good quality team in Amsterdam from Class A’s,” Shenendehowa head coach Joe Murphy said. “We try for something that will be beneficial for both teams.”

Amsterdam had played in a full scrimmage on Wednesday against the Colonie High School Lady Raiders team also out of the Suburban Council prior to the controlled scrimmage with the Lady Plainsmen.

“We scrimmaged at Colonie on Wednesday and played well,” Coach Duemler said. “We won most of the quarters. We appreciate Shenedehowa taking the time to help us prepare for sectionals.”

The Lady Rams and Lady Plainsmen faced off for 30 minutes to close the scrimmage with Shenendehowa coming out ahead in the three periods. But, the workout was more about the details the teams can reflect on when they begin sectional play next week.

“It’s more about the little victories,” Duemler emphasized. “This will only help us with Scotia next week.”

Another benefit to the Lady Rams will be the return of the teams’ point guards. Both Kaitlyn Devine and Braelin Aldi were not on the court for the Lady Rams at the Glens Falls Civic Center when the Lady Rams lost their only Section 2 contest this season in a 49-40 playoff setback to the Glens Falls Lady Indians. Aldi has returned from a mid-season injury and participated in the scrimmage.

“Braelin is back and she will be ready to play on Friday,” Coach Duemler said. “Kaitlyn Devine will be ready too.”

Despite a 3-1 record head to head with Glens Falls and Scotia-Glenville, the Lady Rams were given the fourth seed behind third seeded Glens Falls and just ahead of the Lady Tartans in the Class A sectionals. The Lady Indians and Lady Tartans were both 1-2 head to head and with Amsterdam. The Lady Rams won the Foothills Council South Division title defeating the Lady Tartans twice. Amsterdam was victorious 45-42 at Scotia Glenville for their first Foothills Council win, and then bested the Lady Tartans in overtime 49-47 at Amsterdam High School on January 30th. Nina Fedullo scored a season high 35 points in the later win and assisted on Autumn Duemler’s game winning basket with 0.6 seconds left.

Amsterdam (15-1 Section 2, 16-3 overall) will play Scotia-Glenville (17-2) in the quarterfinal round to be held at Troy High School on Friday, February 27. Game time is scheduled for 6pm. Top seeded Troy will play the winner of a first round game between South Glens Falls and Holy Names Academy in the 7:30pm contest.

Amsterdam finished with a league best unbeaten 13-0 regular season in their first year in the Foothills Council. The Lady Rams (No.21) are one of five New York State Sportswriters Association (NYSSWA) ranked teams from Section 2 in the girls Class A basketball poll. The Lady Tartans (No.22), and Lady Indians (No.17)are also among the top 25 teams in the state. Troy (No.16) with a 13-6 record, and Averill Park (No.20) with a 12-7 record are the top seeded teams in Section 2.

Amsterdam’s tournament resume’ includes eight wins over Class A teams and a 63-29 win over Class AA Syracuse Corcoran out of Section 3 back in December also at the Amsterdam Holiday Showcase event.

The Amsterdam Lady Rams have a 3-1 record against top 25 NYSSWA ranked teams. The only Section 2 teams with better records against ranked opponents among Class A and AA teams are Bethlehem (4-1), and the Lady Rams training partner, Shenendehowa (4-1). The Lady Plainsmen earned the top seed in the Class AA sectional playoffs, and will face the winner of an opening round game between Ballston Spa and Guilderland in a quarterfinal contest on March 2nd at Shenendehowa East High School. The Lady Plainsmen (18-1) will be pursuing back to back titles, something unheard of at AHS.

Walking into the gymnasium at Shenendehowa East High School and looking at all the sports team banners, one can’t help feel at awe at the number of championships the school has won. Each sports team has at least one Suburban Council, Section 2, or New York State title. Walking through the gymnasium at Amsterdam High School, it’s easy to point out the Big 10 titles for most of the AHS sports teams. There are are banners for two state champion football teams from 1995 and 2005, and a regional title by the 1995 boys basketball team. AHS boys teams have won Section 2 titles. To my recollection, a girls team has not done this in recent history. The closest an AHS girls team came that I can remember was the 1982 softball team that made it to the sectional final before falling to Niskayuna. The journey for the 2015 Lady Rams basketball team continues on Friday.

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.