Lady Rams topple Rome Free Academy, earn tourney split

Tuesday night, the Amsterdam Lady Rams varsity basketball team came back with renewed energy after a loss on Monday at the the sixth annual Amsterdam Holiday College Showcase at Amsterdam High School. The team communicated and worked together as one on offense and defense to defeat the Lady Knights of Rome Free Academy 57-35.

“We didn’t have that energy yesterday against Baldwinsville, but tonight we had that energy and togetherness, we were picking up each other,” Amsterdam head coach Eric Duemler said. “Our attitude was different, our energy was better. We rallied together.”

The Lady Rams needed a rally after trailing against another Section 3 Class AA opponent at halftime. But, as the clock began ticking in the third quarter, Amsterdam’s press defense kicked it into light speed to create turnovers and put points on the board. Everyone on the Amsterdam team that took the court had at least one point or rebound led by a team high 26 from junior Nina Fedullo.

Down 22-21 at the break, Amsterdam began the third eight minute frame with a 7-0 run led by Fedullo and Autum Duemler with three of those points coming from the free throw line where the Lady Rams have struggled recently. Fedullo capped the run with a put back and a foul shot for a three point play and a 28-22 Amsterdam lead. All seven points courtesy of an Amsterdam press defense that trapped Lady Knights’ guards before they could get set on offense and then tipped the ball away. Amsterdam did to Rome Free Academy what Baldwinsville had done to them in Monday’s contest, they forced turnovers.

“Our communication was good and our press was good, and that comes with energy,” Coach Duemler said. “I’m proud of this team and how they responded.”

RFA’s Miranda Gifford connected for a pair of three point shots to pull the Lady Knights close at 30-28, but the Lady Rams defense tightened against her and she didn’t score again. Lucia Liverio answered Gifford’s last triple with one of her own, and after a block by teammate Rayven Roach, Liverio took the ball the length of the court for two more and a 43-28 AHS lead. Liverio then tacked on the free throw to close out the quarter with Amsterdam up by sixteen.

“Lucia has the ability and is doing a great job at point guard,” Coach Duemler said. “She’s a varsity basketball player. The future is bright for Lucia.”

Amsterdam left no doubt about the outcome as they went on a 11-0 run to start the fourth quarter. Fedullo scored the fist six points including a pair on an impressive baseline move against RFA center Tiana Pugh, who the Lady Rams held to only six points, all of which came in the first half. Fedullo put up yet another double-double with a game high 14 rebounds to go with her 26 points. A steal by Maria Lomanto led to Fedullo’s last points during the run. The junior guard then took over connecting for three and then two more on another steal at mid-court. Lomanto’s defensive efforts did not go unnoticed.

“Maria is typically an offense oriented player,” Coach Duemler said. “Tonight was a step in the right direction for her on defense. She did a great job tonight. “

Amsterdam needed to turn up the velocity on defense especially after a sluggish first half where they once again struggled from the foul line making only four of twelve shots. RFA got a more balanced effort in the first quarter getting points from Pugh, Emilee Finley, nd Sharifa Taylor to step out in front 7-3. Fedullo provided all of AHS’ offense in the first quarter with eight points. A three by Finley left the Lady Rams trailing 10-8 after one period of play. More Lady Rams got into the scoring column in the opening minutes of the second quarter with Giuliana Pritchard and Brady Santiago finding the net to put Amsterdam ahead 12-10. RFA responded and took the lead at 17-16 after a triple by Pugh, but those were her last points of the game. The senior center finished with only six points and five rebounds.

“Shutting down their big girl (Pugh) was important,” Fedullo said. “She was their play maker and the key for their team.”

Gifford followed Pugh’s three point make with the first of her team high nine points and a 20-16 RFA lead. A basket by Autumn Duemler followed by free throws from Lomanto, Fedullo, and Grace Catena inched AHS in front 21-20 before a jump shot by Selena Campos gave RFA the lead 22-21 at the break. That was the last lead for the Lady Knights. Amsterdam outscored Rome Free Academy 36-13 in the second half leading to the win.

“After how we played yesterday we needed to play harder,” Fedullo said. “Defense is key for that. Coming off a win is good going into the next game.”

Fedullo’s 26 point effort was a highlight moment in the showcase. Lomanto was next on the Amsterdam scoring chart with nine points, five rebounds and two steals. Autumn Duemler and Liverio each had six points with Duemler also taking down seven rebounds, Santiago added five points and five rebounds, Pritchard contributed with four points and another nine rebound performance to give her 10 points and 18 rebounds in the Lady Rams two games. Grace Catena had one point and one rebound, and Rayven Roach, Gabriella Catena, and Victoria Barone Lopez each brought in a pair of rebounds.

“What I saw tonight was growth,” Coach Duemler said. “We have the ability to play for each other and the team aspect of ‘we not me’. They have to believe in it.”

Baldwinsville 53 Amsterdam 40 (Monday)

Baldwinsville’s Emily Pascale scored a game high 25 points including 13 in the first quarter leading the Lady Bee’s over the Lady Rams 53-40 on Monday evening. A poor shooting performance overall and 21 turnovers didn’t help the Amsterdam cause in their first contest in the 2015 Amsterdam Holiday College Showcase.

Amsterdam’s only lead of the game came at 4-2 on a basket by Maria Lomanto midway through the first period. Pascale then took control weaving through the Lady Rams defense going the length of the court to tie the game and then intercepted two consecutive inbounds passes to put Baldwinsville up 8-4. The senior scored 13 straight points in the first quarter capping off the run with a long distance three point shot and a 13-6 Lady Bills lead before a pair of free throws by AHS’ Grace Catena closed out the scoring in the first. Pascale scored all of the Lady Bee’s points in the first quarter and her performance was certainly an attention grabbing moment in the tournament.

“We knew going in she was their best player,” Amsterdam head coach Eric Duemler said. “She’s the type of guard who penetrates the defense. We didn’t match that energy.”

Amsterdam had difficulty dealing with the Baldwinsville press turning the ball over 21 times for the game with the majority leading to Baldwinsville scores. Compounding that was the fact the Lady Rams did not shoot well from the floor, making only 16 of 47 shots overall, and five of 19 free throws. The Lady Rams missed their first five shots of the game before Giuliana Pritchard tied the game at 2-2 with a layup and then assisted on Lomanto’s shot giving Amsterdam the lead. But, the Amsterdam offense struggled at the tart and didn’t find any rhythm until the second period.

Brady Santiago came off the bench and provided a spark for the AHS offense scoring the first time she touched the ball to cut the lead to 13-8, but Meghan Wilson converted a three point play and Pascale connected for another three after a steal to boost it back to 19-8. After a free throw by AHS’ Lucia Livero, Santiago made a triple of her own slicing the margin to seven points. The junior Lady Rams guard scored seven of her team high 12 points in the second quarter giving the Lady Rams some momentum. Pritchard kept the game withing reach on a put pack at 23-16 and assisted on a lay up by Autumn Duemler at 26-18. The sophomore was the only Lady Ram to score in every quarter finishing with six points, nine rebounds and three assists. However, Pascale and her teammates wouldn’t allow Amsterdam to go on a run and when a pair of steals led to baskets by sophomore Carolyn Brussel , the Lady Bee’s led 30-20 at halftime and never let up.

“You would think we were the team that traveled two hours to play,” Coach Duemler said. “We practiced against their press, but we were sloppy with the ball today. Baldwinsville was quicker to the ball and overall we just didn’t play well. That’s not us. No excuses, we need to play better.”

Amsterdam played better in the second half. Junior forward Nina Fedullo, who was held to two points in the first half scored four points in the third quarter, and along with a basket from Santiago helped the Lady Rams go on a 6-0 run to cut the Lady Bee’s lead to single digits at 32-26, but Baldwinsville senior center Riley Carlucci took control under the boards scoring the first of her 10 points in the second half, and that followed by a three by Kaylee Lammers put the lead back in double digits at 37-26. Lammers, Pascale and Carlucci all scored during a 6-0 Lady Bee’s run to close the quarter with Baldwinsville up 43-29. Carlucci added a team high seven rebounds to her ten points. Lammers finished with five points and two boards. Brussel tallied six points and four rebounds, and Rachel Foertch added four points and three rebounds.

The Lady Rams outscored Baldwinsville 11-10 in the fourth quarter with points from Fedullo, Santiago, Pritchard, and Duemler. Fedullo picked up her fourth double-double of the season with an 11 point 15 rebound effort. Autumn Duemler finished with six points and four rebounds, and senior Gabriella Catena added two rebounds in the Amsterdam effort.

“The good news is we play tomorrow,” Coach Duemler said. “We can show that we are better than we were tonight.”

The 2015 Amsterdam Holiday College Showcase brings in some of the finest high school girls basketball teams in the area. Amsterdam was joined by Foothills Council rival Scotia-Glenville, and Suburban Council teams: Shenedehowa, Guilderland, Mohonasen, and Schenectady, and Section 3 teams from Baldwinsville, Rome Free Academy, and Syracuse Corcoran, as well as downstate’s Kingston, Cooperstown, and a team from Mansfield, Massachusetts. In addition to the teams, the showcase is attended by college coaches and recruiters from across the northeast. Among those attending the showcase were: Colgate, Canisius, Hartwick, the Sage Colleges, and Schenectady Community College.

More 2015 Amsterdam Showcase moments

Amsterdam junior Nina Fedullo scored a total of 37 points and 29 rebounds in the Lady Rams two games against Section 3 teams Baldwinsville and Rome Free Academy. The two “double- double” performances were her fourth and fifth this year. Sophomore Giuliana Pritchard recorded 10 points and 18 rebounds, senior Autumn Duemler poured in 12 points and 11 rebounds, and Brady Santiago scored 17 points over the two game stretch for the Lady Rams.

Shenendehowa senior Carly Boland scored a game high 21 points in the Lady Plainsmen’s 87-25 win over Rome Free Academy, and the next day added another 17 points leading her team to a 69-33 win over Mansfield, MA. The two wins helped Shenendehowa remain unbeaten on the season at 8-0. Sydney Brown contributed 22 points over the two games for the Lady Plainsmen, and cross country and track and field standout Julia Zachgo added basketball to her resume scoring five points against RFA.

The Baldwinsville Lady Bee’s picked up a pair of wins defeating Section 2 teams Amsterdam and Guilderland. The Section 3 Class AA squad was powered by 25 points from senior guard Emily Pascale in the 53-40 win over Amsterdam, and 19 points from senior center Riley Carlucci in a 49-47 win over Guilderland. Pacale led the Bee’s with 32 points in the showcase. Carlucci was next with 29 points. Baldwinsville joined Shenedehowa as the only teams to win two games in the showcase.

Alayna Landolfo led the Scotia-Glenville Lady Tartans with a 27 point effort during the showcase including 17 in a 60-45 win over Corcoran. Caitlin Estes had 25 points over the two game span, and Juliana Geniti chipped in with 22 for Scotia-Glenville.

Other notable big game performances included: Mohonasen’s Saeeda Abdul Aziz’s 23 point effort in a 58-36 loss to Kingston. Cooperstown’s Maria Noto poured on 22 points in a 70-35 victory over Scotia-Glenville in the final game on Tuesday. Rome Free Academy’s Tiana Pugh scored 23 points over two games including 17 of her team’s 25 total against Shendehowa. Skye Lindsay led Guilderland with 14 points against Baldwinsville, and Erica Prindle poured in 16 points against Mohonasen.

The Lady Rams return to action on Monday when they travel to Johnstown for a 7pm contest.

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.