Amsterdam Recreation hoops hold championships

Where else can you watch six outstanding basketball games in one day? The answer to that question was the gymnasium at the Clara S. Bacon Recreation Center in Amsterdam, New York. The Amsterdam Recreation Basketball League held its 2015 championships on Saturday. Six teams, in both girls and boys divisions, all played like champions.

2nd and 3rd Grade Boys

MCT Federal Credit Union 24 – Neena Rao Foundation 18

Jude Flint and Julian Goris teamed up to score 18 points in the second half leading MCT Federal Credit Union to victory. Flint led all scorers with 16 points as the victors overcame an 8-6 deficit at halftime. MCT finished the season with only five players. All five dedicated to their teams’ success.

“We stress keeping them focused and helping them understand that the sport is a part of life,” MCT Federal Credit Union coach Dylan Wager said. “We have had only five kids on the team most of the season and they fought their way through that.”

Jacob Villanova, Elias Sanders, and Otto Wojick rounded out the “fab five” for MCT. The Neena Rao Foundation was led by Tafani Martin’s eight points. Kingston Dailey scored six points, Ed Harrison and Jose Cruz each had two points.

2nd – 4th Grade Girls

Senator Tkaczyk Girl Power 29 – Cappies 27

Jadiana Martinez earned a “double-double” with 18 points and 17 rebounds leading Girl Power to victory in one of the closest contests of the day. Martinez grabbed a rebound and put it back off a missed free throw with 37.5 seconds left for the game’s deciding basket.

“I don’t doubt it,” said Senator Tkaczyk Girl Power coach Tom Stanavich when told about Martinez’s feat. “She’s the best player in the league.”

Martinez scored 11 of her game high points in the first half as Girl Power pulled out to a 16-10 lead. Cappies had taken a 21-19 lead after a basket by Keegan Hoefs (8 pts), but Martinez answered to tie the game. Girl Powers’ Annie Stanavich and Cappies’ Natalee Agresta traded baskets keeping the score knotted at 25-25. Annie Stanavich’s next shot gave Girl Power the lead again, but Hoefs jump shot tied it once more. Martinez was fouled on her next drive to the basket and missed her first free throw, but followed the shot and put it back through the net. Moments later the celebration began.

“They learn the rules and they have fun,” said Coach Stanavich. “They all showed up for practice and are hard workers.”

That hard work paid off for Martinez, Annie Stanavich (9 pts), Alex Nordby (2 pts), Dana Stanavich, Anayiah Myers, Kylee Mead, and Ella Blanchard.

Helen Flint added eight points and some outstanding skills handling the basketball to the Cappies effort. Kayla Douglas scored three points.

3rd and 4th Grade Boys

CWA1118 Red Storm 33 – 518 Flag 25

The Red Storm held off a valiant effort by the 518 Flag team to take the 3rd and 4th Grade Boys title. Vincent and Marco Bottisti teamed up for 19 points, 12 in the second half that put CWA1118 in front for good.

Trailing 19-14 at halftime, 518 Flag charged back led by Jhai Vellon (14 pts). A jump shot by Vincent Bottisti (12 pts) gave CWA1118 a 21-19 lead, but Vellon put 518 Flag in front on his next drive to the basket. Marco Bottisti (7 pts) completed a three-point play putting CWA 1118 back on top, but Mark Schultz (5 pts) took his turn in the spotlight pulling 518 Flag to within one at 26-25. After that the stage belonged to Vincent Bottisti, who scored the last eight points of the game.

“They play and practice as a team,” said CWA1118 Red Storm coach Tony Bottisti on the reasons for his team’s success. “And they learn sportsmanship,” he added.

Victor Dueno (6 pts) and Leo Perez (8 pts) scored most of their totals in the first half to help put CWA 1118 in front. Darius Dainer, Jonah O’ Connor, Louis Gonzalez, Gio Gonzalez, and Anthony Reyes were standouts on defense for the champions who celebrated their win with a trip to Albany to play laser tag.

Vellon’s 14 points were a game high. Cesar Thompson added four points and Elyas Castro made one free throw for 518 Flag.

5th and 6th Grade Boys

Clear Image 51 – Amsterdam Mohawks 49

Treyvon Gifford had the second ‘double-double’ of the day scoring 16 points and bringing down 18 rebounds leading Clear Image to the victory over the Amsterdam Mohawks team. Gifford, who scored 23 points in Clear Image’s 67-29 win over Mohawk Valley Orthopedics in the semi finals had the team high once again, but Clear Image had to withstand a late surge by the Mohawks for the win.

Clear Image took a 24-17 into the break and stayed in front on the strength of Gifford’s efforts and the hot hand of Carlos Matos, who scored the majority of his 15 points in the second half. Tyrell Douglas (10 pts), Yandeel Volquez (8 pts), and Rafferty Clark (2 pts.) did their best to keep Clear Image in front.

“That was too close,” said Clear Image coach Bill Naish. “We stress teamwork, and we play good team defense.”

Clear Image needed every bit of that defense to hold off a determined Mohawks squad led by Marcus Jackson, who scored a game high (and championship Saturday high) 24 points. Jackson scored 17 of his total in the second half with many of them coming off drives to the rim. James Shatas (12 pts) scored six in the second half and pulled the Mohawks to within 51-49 with less than 10 seconds to play. Clear Image took control and ran out the clock.

“We play as a team,” said coach Naish, who’s team finished at 11-1 on the season. “There’s no individuality, and we play good team defense.”

Joshua Alicea, Ryan Hotaling, Derek Carella, Brady Naish, and Joseph Polanco were part of the winning effort for Clear Image.

Jacob Gomez (5 pts), Nathaniel Zwack (2pts), Giordan Bonnano (2 pts), Mekhi Curry (2 pts), and Evan Iannuzzi (1 pt), Andrew Spagnola, Donavan Colon, and Anthony Reyes, all helped the Amsterdam Mohawks cause.

5th – 8th Grade Girls

Rich Post Photography 40 – Horrigan, Horrigan and Lombardo PC 31

Maddie Carmona led six players in scoring with 11points, and Sydney Szczepanik nearly had the third ‘double-double’ of the day collecting nine points and 13 rebounds to lead Rich Post Photography to the title.

“The girls took the skills they learned and applied them,” Rich Post Photography coach Denise Fiet said on her team’s success. “We teach them good court awareness, the proper way to shoot, and the proper way to play defense.”

That awareness was seen particularly in Szczepanik who boxed out underneath the basket and twice rebounded a free throw miss and put it back for a score. Carmona put what she learned to use making shots from several different places on the floor. Rich Post Photography also featured the teamwork of sisters Jackie and Gabby Stanavich, who teamed up for 15 points, most of them coming in the second half.

“A lot of credit goes to Gabby and Jackie,” said Coach Fiet. “They are dream team MVP’s. They gave up a weekend with family to be here.”

The Stanavich sisters were key in a35-30 semi-final win over Lazarou Insurance three nights earlier. Trailing 30-28 late in the second half, Rich Post Photography scored the last seven points of the game with four of them coming from Jackie Stanavich, who had a game high 15 points. Yarlyn Toro led nine Lazarou Insurance players in scoring with nine points. Jamie Corcoran tallied six points, and Andie Gannon contributed two points, three rebounds and three assists.

In the final, Jessliana Gracia scored three points for the winners. Isabella Agresta scored two points, and Megan Close, Julia Fiet, Natalie Flint, Heavan Lamboy, and Emma Johnson were outstanding on defense.

Horrigan, Horrigan, and Lombardo PC was led by Anonia May’s 14 points. Megan Lamont scored six points, Shelby Lamont scored five points, and Francesca Derosa, and Mimi Jackson scored three points each for their teams’ cause.

7th and 8th Grade Boys

Cotugno Dental 67 – St. Mary’s Healthcare 57

The day wouldn’t be complete without a comeback. Cotugno Dental had four players in double digits and overcame a 12 point deficit at halftime to earn the win over St. Mary’s Healthcare. Melvin Fernandez led all players in scoring with 22 points.

Trailing 35-23 at the break, Cotugno Dental opened the second half with an 18-0 run to take the lead.. Richard Gannon’s three-point shot made it a one possession game at 35-33, and was followed by the first of two triples by Jon Schultz. Jose Merced’s basket made it four straight three-point goals and a 44- 35 lead for Cotugno Dental. Devin Valles and Andrew Giamo rallied St. Mary’s Healthcare to tie the game at 44, but Schultz’s next shot put Cotugno Dental in front to stay. Schultz, Merced, and Caydan Gravely each scored 13 points for the winners. Gravely, and Fernandez put the finishing touches on the win teaming up to convert eight consecutive free throws.

“It definitely came down to free throws,” Cotugno Dental coach Damian Carella said. “We knew it would be a battle and we hit some big free throws.”

Gannon’s three-point basket were his only points of the game. He also had a couple of big blocks just before the end of the first half. Tyler Loucks added a pair of points for a team that also included fine efforts from Elijah Perierich, Antonio Thomas, Noah Tatun, and Xavier Santos..

“Learning to play together is the most important thing,” Coach Carella said. “They share the ball and they trust in each other.”

Peyton Ausfeld dominated the first half scoring 19 of his 20 points for St. Mary’s Healthcare during the period. Valles also finished with 20 points, most of them in the second half. Giamo (12 pts), Spencer Flint (4 pts), and Tremain Lovelace (1 pt) rounded out the scoring for St. Mary’s Healthcare.

The Amsterdam Recreation Basketball League still has more action to come with the High School Boys division still to be decided. The playoffs will begin next week, and the title contest is slated for March 11th at Bacon Recreation Center. Tip time is set for 6:30pm.

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.