Amsterdam girls basketball tops Johnstown in home opener

The Amsterdam Lady Rams varsity basketball team found themselves in a familiar place Monday night. They were once again tied with their opponent after one quarter of play. But, unlike their game against Gloversville less than a week ago, Amsterdam left no doubt who was the stronger team. The Lady Rams outscored the Johnstown Lady Bills 19-1 in the second quarter, and did a better job defensively lifting them to a 55-33 victory in their home opener at Amsterdam High School.

The game was the second on the season for Amsterdam against a Foothills Council south division rival. It appeared at first that it might be a replay of Thursday’s game especially when Johnstown’s Claire Guzielek connected for a three point shot and got fouled. Guzielek converted the free throw putting the Lady Bills up 6-3, but the comparison to the season opener at Gloversville where the Lady Dragons stayed with the Lady Rams for three quarters, ended there. Johnstown’s next trip down the floor came to an abrupt halt. Amsterdam sophomore forward Giuliana Pritchard blocked Guzielek’s next shot attempt that led to a turnover and a basket by Amsterdam’s Nina Fedullo. Pritchard had two blocks and half of Amsterdam’s point total in the first quarter including two on a drive to the basket with the additional foul shot on AHS’ next possession. Pritchard, Fedullo, and senior Rayven Roach teamed up for seven rebounds in the opening frame giving the Lady Rams a distinct advantage on the boards. Roach’s put back tied the game at 10-10 to end the period, and with the defense providing the spark, the fuse was lit for the Lady Rams offense to take control.

“That’s two games in a row where we’ve controlled the boards,” Amsterdam head coach Eric Duemler said. “Way better job on defense with our main core, we did a better job finding the open shooter.”

Amsterdam took command in the second quarter with Fedullo (14 rebounds) and Roach (12 rebounds) collecting most of their totals. After Johnstown’s Kalia Fisher made a free throw giving the Lady Bills an 11-10 lead, the Lady Rams scored the next 19 points to end the half with Amsterdam up 29-11, and overall the Lady Rams went on a 22-0 run into the third quarter before a pair of free throws by Jordan Rose ended the streak. Rose led Johnstown with eight points. The second quarter was a highlight reel for Amsterdam guards Maria Lomanto and Brady Santiago, who connected on three point baskets during the run. Lomanto’s triple gave Amsterdam the lead for good at 13-11, and Santiago’s gave AHS its biggest lead at 27-11. And when they weren’t making shots, they were preventing them. Lomanto had two steals that turned into part of her nine points for the quarter. Lomanto, Santiago, and point guard Lucia Liverio helped work a trap defense that limited Johntown’s scoring and created points for the Lady Rams.

“We did a better job on our traps,” Coach Duemler said. “They had maybe one split which is an improvement from the Gloversville game.”

The efforts of Lomanto and Santiago also made up for Amsterdam’s inconsistency from the free throw line where the Lady Rams made only half of their free throws (12 for 24).

“Maria’s really a starter playing the sixth man,” Coach Duemler siad of Lomanto, who along with Pritchard had a game high 13 points. “Maria is a clutch shooter and Brady is good as well.”

Amsterdam continued their dominance on the boards in the second half. Pritchard kept the offense full speed ahead with a put back at the end of the 22-0 run, and after a pair of free thows by Rose, she outran everyone down the court and was on the receiving end of a long pass by Santiago boosting Amsterdam’s lead to 34-13. Pritchard finished the night with 13 points, 10 rebounds (five in the third quarter), and two blocks.

“We definitely dominated them on boards,” Pritchard said. “We did a better job tonight playing defense and getting out on their shooters.”

Pritchard’s 10 boards were part of a 55-29 advantage for Amsterdam. The high number was also an indicator that the Lady Rams needed second and third chance opportunities to convert their shot attempts. That’s a statistic that didn’t go unnoticed.

“We need to work on finishing our shots and work on our free throws,” Pritchard added.

Amsterdam’s Grace Catena capped off the third quarter for the Lady Rams with a jump shot to give them a 45-19 lead. Lomanto and Fedullo helped open the fourth quarter teaming up for the first six points and a huge 51-20 lead. Comfortably ahead, Amsterdam cleared its bench giving everyone a chance to play. Every Amsterdam player had at least one rebound in the contest.

“We played really well as a team tonight,” Pritchard said. “We pulled through.”

Fedullo finished the night with her second double-double in as many games, gathering 12 points to go with her 14 boards. Santiago finished with nine points, Liverio had two points, three rebounds and five assists. Roach ended with four points. Autumn Duemler and Jailene Irizarry had four rebounds each, and Victoria Barone-Lopez and Gabriella Catena each had a pair of rebounds in the Amsterdam effort.

Rose led Johnstown with eight points and five rebounds. Guzielek was next with seven points and five boards, followed by Allison Morey with five points, Mallory Baldwin and Jess Van Nostrand with four points each, Kalia Fisher with three points and a team high six rebounds, and Lexus Williams with two points and five rebounds.

Next up for Amsterdam is Thursday’s nights home game with Foothills Council north division foe South Glens Falls, a team that is no stranger to winning league titles. Coach Duemler pointed out that aspects of the Lady Rams game need to improve against the stronger Foothills Council teams.

“We need to make our foul shots to beat the better Foothills Council teams,” Coach Duemler said. ”South Glens Falls has a lot of kids back from last years’ team, and they’re a tough, physical team.”

Varsity game time at Amsterdam High School is scheduled for 7pm. Amsterdam will play a third straight home game this week on Saturday when they challenge the Suburban Council’s Saratoga Springs. Saturday’s varsity tip time at AHS is set for 4pm.

(Photos by Scott Mulford)

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.