AHS Lady Rams basketball top Schuylerville for fifth straight win

It happens in every team sport. A player who some might not expect to have an impact on a game comes through for their team. Thursday night, Amsterdam junior guard Grace Catena got her first start of the season and did a little bit of everything on an otherwise uncharacteristic off night for the Lady Rams, and helped Amsterdam pick up its fifth straight win 49-27 at Amsterdam High School.

“It felt great to get a start,” Catena said. “Sometimes you have to step up for your team and that’s what I did tonight.”

Catena got the start in place of the teams’ leading scorer, Nina Fedullo, who had to miss a team practice during the week due to a school function. Fedullo entered the game during the first quarter and along with Catena were the only Lady Rams to score in every quarter. In fact, the team was most effective with the pair both on the court where they teamed up for 27 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and three steals.

“Grace got the start,” Amsterdam head coach Eric Duemler said. “She had a great practice. There’s a lot of potential in Grace to help us down the stretch of the last weeks of the season. She’s a hard worker and a good shooter.”

Catena’s determination was most evident in the second quarter when the Lady Rams were searching for some consistency against a Schuylerville team that had cut Amsterdam’s lead to four at 16-12 after a basket by Kiai Thomas. Catena’s pass to Rayven Roach was on the mark on the Lady Rams next trip down the court, and the tallest girl on the floor helped Amsterdam’s inside game with a basket to boost the lead back to six. Moments later, Catena took matters into her own hands and hit a pull up jumper to make it an eight point margin once again, and after Thomas scored her last points of the game, Catena fed Roach in close to the rim once more ending the half with AHS in front 22-14. Through the first 11 games of the season, Grace Catena had scored only 28 points. Her 10 points, four rebounds, and a lot of hustle provided a bright spot on a night when the Lady Rams tried to force a lot of passes and committed 29 turnovers. Coach Duemler shuffled the lineup on the floor throughout the game looking for some way to bring some flow to the Lady Rams offense.

“I was tying to find a spark,” Coach Duemler said. “Grace played hard. Rayven competed, and Jailene (Irizarry) gave us a spark.”

Amsterdam’s margin increased by only two at the end of the third quarter. Brady Santiago started the period with a three point shot near the top of the key giving AHS its first double digit lead at 25-14. The Lady Black Horses chipped away with back to back shots from Carlee Irish (8 points) and Kaitlyn Congdon (4 points) to cut the lead back to 25-18. A drive by Fedullo broke the run, but Irish answered for Schuylerville with a three making it a two possession game, 27-21. However unlike an earlier Amsterdam game against Saratoga Springs where the Lady Blue Streaks consistently put the ball in the net and made 10 three points shots, Schuylerville shot for a low percentage on their first shot attempts giving the Lady Rams a chance to get the rebound. The Lady Ram denied second chance baskets and held a 37 to 25 advantage under the boards. That was more than enough for Catena and Fedullo who turned offensive rebounds into points on Amsterdam’s last two possessions keeping them in front 31-21 after three. The Lady Rams found some rhythm late and Schuylerville wouldn’t get any closer.

Catena started the scoring in the fourth and best quarter for the Lady Rams taking an assist from Fedullo to the rim and in for two more. Fedullo then scored eight of her game high 17 points in the quarter including a three point make that gave Amsterdam its biggest lead 38-23 with less than five minutes to play. Fedullo, Catena, Lucia Liverio, and Jailene Irizarry all scored during an 11-0 run to end the game complimented by three assists from sophomore Giuliana Pritchard. Amsterdam broke open the game late outscoring the Lady Black Horses 18-6 in the fourth quarter.

“We try to do our best every game,” Grace Catena said. “We just had to get our heads in the game and stay focused.”

Amsterdam started the game slow scoring only on free throws from Autumn Duemler and Fedullo for a 4-0 lead before Catena made the first field goal for AHS. Amsterdam ended the opening period with a 12-2 lead getting points from Fedullo and Liverio on a late 6-0 run, but struggled to keep that momentum shooting only 7 for 16 from the free throw line along with not making the best decisions in passing the ball. The Lady Rams had 29 turnovers against the Foothills Council North division fifth place Lady Black Horses but never trailed in the contest. Consensus after the game was that the effort certainly could have been better.

“Our main talk in the pre-game was don’t overlook this team,” Coach Duemler said. “The Schuylerville kids competed. This was an ugly basketball game. We were lethargic and showed no energy. It’s up to us to make our own energy no matter who the opponent is.”

Fedullo led Amsterdam under the boards with nine rebounds. Lucia Liverio was next on the AHS charts with seven points and three rebounds. Brady Santiago added six points to the Lady Rams cause, Rayven Roach had four points and six rebounds, Autumn Duemler contributed three points and seven rebounds and Jailene Irizarry collected two points and one rebound. Giuliana Pritchard had four rebounds to go with her three assists and one steal for the Lady Rams and is only two points shy of 100 points for the season. Her next basket and she will join Fedullo (197 points), and Santiago (115 points) as Lady Rams reaching the 100 point mark. Maria Lomanto, Gabriella Catena, and Victoria Barone-Lopez contributed a rebound or an assist in the Lady Rams effort.

Emily Vallee led Schuylerville with 11 points most of which came in the third quarter. Callie Beck collected a team high seven rebounds followed by Kaitlyn Congdon with six rebounds, and Caitlyn Kelleher collected a pair of boards for the Lady Black Horses.

Amsterdam improved to 9-3 on the season (8-1 Foothills Council) and remains atop the South division with four league games left to play. The Lady Rams return to action Monday night when they travel to Broadalbin-Perth High School to take on the Lady Patriots. A victory will put them within one win of clinching the Foothills Council South division. Amsterdam returns home on Thursday, January 21st to face the Foothills Council North division leading Hudson Falls Lady Tigers and a battle for overall best record in the league. Varsity tip time for both games is scheduled for 7pm.

The Lady Rams will hold the first of two free basketball clinics on Sunday at Amsterdam High School from 11am to 1pm. The clinic, in its 16th season is open for girls in grades 2 through 8. Coaches and players of the Amsterdam varsity, junior varsity, and modified teams will be present to help teach the fundamentals of the game. Another clinic will follow on January 24th.

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.