Lady Rams basketball fall to Saratoga in non-league contest

You win as a team, and you lose as a team. Every good team knows that.

“It was a good battle, a good test,” said Amsterdam head coach Eric Duemler  in regards to the AHS girls basketball team’s first loss of the season. “Our girls need to learn how to deal with adversity and lose as a team. Losing as a team the right way. If we’re going down it will be battling together. ”

During the first three games of the 2015-2016 season, the Amsterdam Lady Rams varsity basketball team learned how to win as a team, coming back to defeat a talented young Gloversville team in their season opener, fighting off a slow start to top Johnstown in their home opener, and earlier this week overpowering an unbeaten South Glens Fall team to earn a 3-0 record. But Saturday afternoon, the Saratoga Springs Lady Blue Streaks started a freshman and an eighth grader at the two guard positions, and got a big game off the bench from a junior sharpshooter. Saratoga came away with the win, 60-48.

Amsterdam was locked in a tight struggle with the Suburban Council’s Lady Blue Streaks, and for much of the third quarter the Lady Rams were able to stay within striking distance trying to keep it a one possession game. Midway through the third period, Amsterdam appeared ready to overcome adversity and take the lead after going on a 7-2 run. Hardworking baskets by Giuliana Pritchard and Nina Fedullo and a heart pumping three from the top of the key by sophomore point guard Lucia Liverio had cut the Saratoga lead to 32-30, but the Lady Blue Streaks responded with Charlotte Reilly’s only two points of the game and a three from eighth grade point guard Catherine Caims to push the lead back to seven at 37-30. Caims, along with freshman Kerry Flaherty were instrumental in the Lady Blue Streaks effort, handling the Amsterdam pressure defense and finding open teammates who made good on their shots.

“Our two young girls are a freshman (Flaherty) and an eighth grader (Caims),” Saratoga Springs head coach Robin Chudy said. “They handled the pressure and they can really shoot. We have the luxury of having five guards who can really shoot the ball.”

Amsterdam fought back again with Fedullo, who battled foul trouble most of the game, scoring the next four points including the last three on a steal at half court that turned into a three point play on a free throw cutting the lead to three once again at 37-34, but the most focused girl on the court, Saratoga Springs junior guard Devin Davidson made her presence felt with a three boosting the Lady Blue Streaks lead back to six as the horn sounded to end the third quarter. It was an omen of things to come.

“We knew about their guards going in,” Coach Duemler said. “We kept them to 10 and 11 points, but number 23 (Davidson) hurt us.”

The Lady Rams got up off the mat again to start the fourth quarter getting baskets from Liverio and Pritchard, who finished with a team high 15 points, to cut the lead to a single possession once again at 41-38. But, Davidson was waiting to strike again, and she connected for a pair of triples as part of her eight points during a 12-0 run that helped seal the win for Saratoga Springs. Davidson finished with a game high 19 points.

“She’s an awesome shooter,” Coach Chudy said of Davidson. “We have a bunch of guards who can shoot. Depending on who’s on. She stepped up for us tonight. I was thrilled.”

Amsterdam still had fight left in them and made one final attempt to overcome adversity. Pritchard, Fedullo and Autumn Duemler all scored to get it to an eight point deficit at 53-45, but Davidson’s last three put it back in double digits with less than two minutes to play.

“Every time we got close, she made a shot for three,” Coach Duemler said. “Good for her. Saratoga earned it.”

It appeared to be business as usual for the Lady Rams, who got off to a good start leading 12-6 after one quarter. Pritchard picked up six points in the period complimenting three point baskets from Brady Santiago (7 points, four rebounds), and Maria Lomanto (9 points, three rebounds). However foul trouble started to plague the Lady Rams in the second period putting four of the five Lady Rams starters on the bench including Fedullo the teams’ leading scorer, who sat with three fouls and didn’t score in the first half. A three point basket by Lomanto to start the second frame that boosted Amsterdam’s lead to 15-6, and a basket Santiago that gave the Lady Rams their last lead at 17-14 were the only points in the period as Saratoga Springs outscored Amsterdam 14-5 and led by three at the half 20-17.

“Nina (Fedullo) is a big part of our offense,” Coach Duemler said. “Her going out stunted our progress.”

Pritchard added four rebounds to her season high 15 points. Fedullo poured in 11 points in the second half and grabbed six rebounds, Liverio finished with five points, one rebound and six assists, Autumn Duemler hauled in three rebounds, and Grace Catena, Rayven Roach, and Jailene Irizarry each had one rebound for Amsterdam.

Catherine Camis’ 11 points and Kerry Flaherty’s 10 points complimented Davidson’s season high 19 points. Madeline Chudy had six points, Kara Varnvalis had five points, Nakaela Elliott tallied four points, Briann Barringer put in three and Charlotte Reilly had two points for the Lady Blue Streaks. Elliott and Flaherty each had four rebounds for Saratoga Springs.

Amsterdam (3-0 Foothills Council, 3-1 overall) will be back in action on Monday when they travel to Glens Falls to take on the Lady Indians. Amsterdam split two meetings with Glens Falls last season, defeating them by twelve points at home before falling 59-50 in a match up of the leagues’ top two teams at the Glens Falls Civic Center leading up to sectionals.

“The girls are excited about Glens Falls,” Coach Duemler said. “We will be ready and we will play well.”

Tip time for the varsity game at Glens Falls High School is scheduled for 7pm. The Amsterdam Lady Rams return home on Thursday, December 17 to face Gloversville. The Lady Rams defeated the Lady Dragons in their first game of the year 67-55 at Gloversville High School back on December 3rd. Tip time for the varsity rematch is also set for 7pm.

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.