It felt like a scene from the movie “Groundhog Day.” Same place, same teams, same outcome as last season. The Amsterdam High School Lady Rams varsity basketball team trailed the Scotia-Glenville Lady Tartans by double digits in the fourth quarter at Scotia-Glenvile High School, and once again they came back and found a way to win. Amsterdam had three players turn in “double-double” performances and defeated their Foothills Council South division rivals Monday night, 56-53 in overtime.
“It’s great to come back in a game like this,” said AHS junior forward Nina Fedullo who led the Lady Rams with 18 points and 14 rebounds. “Leave it all on the court and give one hundred percent. That’s all that matters.”
Trailing 40-29 entering the fourth quarter, Amsterdam found themselves in a similar situation as their last trip to Scotia-Glenville back in December 2014 when they had to battle back from more than ten points down to defeat SGHS by three in regulation. Amsterdam and Scotia-Glenville again met on January30, 2015 at AHS with the Foothills Council South division title on the line and the Lady Rams prevailed 49-47 in overtime getting a 35 point effort from Fedullo and a last second shot by Autumn Duemler. The script was almost the same Monday night and as the game entered the overtime session, Duemler once again would have an impact on the final result.
Trailing 47-46 after a free throw by Mary Kate Palleschi in the opening minute of overtime, Amsterdam then took a lead for the first time since the opening minutes of the game on a pair of free throws by Fedullo. A basket by Alayana Landolfo put SGHS back on top, but a drive to the basket resulted in another pair from the line by Giuliana Pritchard, inching Amsterdam in front 50-49. Lucia Liverio came up with key rebound on the next play and fed Duemler who made the first free throw to put AHS up by two. The next trip down the floor for the Lady Tartans became the turning point for the game. Duemler stretched to stop a drive by SGHS’ Caitlin Estes and came away with the rebound. Estes fouled Duemler on the play and in the process fouled out having scored a game high 27 points. Duemler then buried both free throws for a 53-49 AHS lead. An errant pass gave Amsterdam the ball back and Fedullo took her turn at the line connecting for two more putting AHS up by two possessions 55-49. The Lady Rams had struggled from the foul line for much of the season, but on Monday they were 17 of 24 from the stripe, 10 for 12 in overtime.
“We work hard on free throws,” Amsterdam head coach Eric Duemler said. “All the credit to the girls, they were focused and relaxed tonight. I’m proud of them.”
Free throws had been the only part of Fedullo’s game that was a struggle. Monday night, the Lady Rams leading scorer was 6 for 7 from the line including making all four of her attempts in overtime. In the process, she picked up her seventh “double-double” of the season.
“We shoot hundreds of free throws in practice,” Fedullo said. “Tonight it really paid off.”
Less than a minute was left in the game and the Lady Tartans weren’t going down easy. Juliana Geniti stole the inbound pass and converted a lay up cutting the lead to 55-51. The sophomore finished with 10 points and four rebounds. Upon entering the game for the first time, eighth grader Jazmyne Corker picked off the next pass and cut the lead to 55-53 with 6.6 seconds left. The quickness of Lucia Liverio helped the Lady Rams get the ball in bounds on the next play and Liverio then scored her only point of the game converting a free throw and pushing the lead to three. It gave the Lady Tartans no choice but to shoot a three to tie. Only 0.4 seconds remained, but the ball never made it to the rim and instead wound up in Autumn Duemler’s hands. Duemler had the first “double-double” of her varsity career with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
“The last three or four games have been her best,” Coach Duemler said of his daughter. “I’m a little harder on her than the other girls, but she’s been getting rebounds for us consistently. Anything she produces on the court she’s earned. I’m proud of her.”
Duemler’s efforts complimented those of junior guard Brady Santiago, who sent the game into overtime with a three point goal to make it 46-46. Amsterdam had missed several attempts from beyond the arc in the first half and didn’t connect from long range until Santiago made her first to open the scoring in the fourth quarter. At that point AHS sliced the lead to 40-32. After a basket by Geniti, Santiago found the range again on a pass from Liverio and AHS moved closer at 42-35. Santiago’s three triples in the quarter were the only long distance makes for the game by AHS, and came just in time.
“I make the same arm angle every time when I shoot threes,” said Santiago, who finished with 11 points and six rebounds. “We practice them every day. This is a great feeling to win this game. All a team effort.”
Santiago was presented with another daunting task for the game in guarding Scotia-Glenville’s leading scorer Caitlin Estes. The junior forward did most of her scoring in the first three quarters, but was held to only two points in the fourth and scoreless in the extra period thanks to a ‘box and one’ defense by the Lady Rams with Santiago sticking right with Estes step for step.
“Brady loves a challenge,” Coach Duemler said. “We let her shadow Caitlin Estes with the other four girls controlling the box. She did a nice job defending Caitlin Estes.”
Estes’ last points put SGHS up 44-37, and came after a jump shot from Pritchard that helped ignite a 14-4 AHS run to end the fourth quarter. Fedullo followed that score with a full court lay up that cut the lead to five. Amsterdam’s defense showed its toughness on the next SGHS possession forcing the second shot clock violation of the game by the Lady Tartans, who didn’t get a shot off before the horn sounded. Fedullo then made a pair of free throws to make it a three point game, and was followed by a steal by Liverio leading to another jump shot by Pritchard who frustrated a SGHS defense anticipating a drive to the rim.
“It felt good to shoot a jump shot,” said Pritchard who became the third AHS player in the game with a “double-double” collecting 14 points and 12 rebounds. “That’s how this team shows its strength. We can all play different roles and push through in game like this.”
Pritchard’s shot cut the Lady Tartans lead to one at 44-43. A bank shot by Geniti boosted it back up to three before Santiago calmly drained her last triple to tie the game and send it into OT. Amsterdam’s defense accented its suddenly consistent offense gathering rebounds and forcing turnovers that were key as the Lady Rams outscored Scotia-Glenville 17-6 in the fourth quarter. The Lady Rams hauled in 53 rebounds for the game.
“Pressure is a big piece of our style on defense and offense,” Coach Duemler said. “We like to make it an up tempo game.”
The game was nearly a mirror image of recent games between the two teams. SGHS built a big lead at the end of three quarters led by Estes, who scored 13 in the third quarter alone, and made a pair of three point goals in each the first and second quarters to keep the Lady Tartans on top. Estes connected for a three to put SGHS up 12-4 at the end of one, and later scored eight consecutive points in the second quarter after AHS had cut the lead to 15-12 during an 8-0 run led by Fedullo, Pritchard, and Duemler. Scotia-Glenville led 25-20 at the half with the Lady Rams putting only three players in the scoring column. SGHS led by 11 at the end of the third quarter, but the determination of the Lady Rams, and a bit of history on their side, meant the game was never out of reach.
“Unbelievable,” Coach Duemler said. “Two years, down double digits in the fourth quarter and we come back and win. We clawed our way back in and battled back possession by possession. Give credit to the Scotia-Glenville girls for the game they played, but we never surrender.”
Every player that touched the floor for both teams contributed to an exciting game in front of a partially raucous crowd that came to see two of the better teams in Section 2 Class A girls basketball.
Alayana Landolfo and Mary Kate Palleschi each scored six points for the Lady Tartans. Palleschi led SGHS with six rebounds. Corker and Asia Winney each scored two points in the Scotia-Glenville cause.
Lucia Liverio added four rebounds and six assists to the Amsterdam cause. Rayven Roach collected five rebounds, Grace Catena added one rebound and one steal, and Maria Lomanto contributed two steals to the Amsterdam cause.
“It’s amazing,” Pritchard said. “This makes us feel more confident. We kept pushing to get the win and worked together as a team to persevere. This was our best win of the season.”
The win leaves Amsterdam (8-3 overall, 7-1 Foothills Council) alone in first place in the Foothills Council South division. The Lady Rams are now 5-0 in the division with the other four teams all having at least two losses. Amsterdam picked up their fourth straight win, and third in a row on the road. The Lady Rams return home on Thursday to take on Schuylerville. Tip time for varsity is 7pm.
(Photos by Scott Mulford)