Lady Rams basketball win battle of top teams, stop Hudson Falls

Thursday night’s game between the Amsterdam Lady Rams varsity basketball team and the Hudson Falls Lady Tigers posed the question: what happens when the unstoppable force meets the immovable object? Coming into the game, the Lady Rams offense had averaged better than 50 points per game on the season, while the Lady Tigers defense had averaged giving up less than 40 points per game. Something had to give, and it did. Amsterdam broke through and moved that immovable object getting a balanced scoring effort from seven players and an effective defense in a decisive third quarter handing Hudson Falls its first Foothills Council loss of the season 49-44 at Amsterdam High School.

“They were tough,” Amsterdam sophomore point guard Lucia Liverio said. “We knew we had to come out strong against them as we’re pushing toward a title.”

The Lady Rams did reach one title with the win, they wrapped up first place in the Foothills Council South division. Amsterdam came into the game with an overall league record of 9-1 and led second place Scotia-Glenville (6-4 Foothills) by three games with three left to play. Hudson Falls entered the game at 10-0 and leaders of the North division. The Lady Tigers led Glens Falls (9-1 Foothills) by one game, and will play Glens Falls once more in the last two weeks likely to decide the division crown. Amsterdam will meet the North division winner at the Glens Falls Civic Center in a cross over game of first place teams to decide the league title on a date that will be announced at the end of the season. The Foothills Council has consistently featured some of the most competitive basketball in Section 2. There are no easy wins in the Foothills Council, and Thursdays’ game was no exception. The Lady Rams turned the tide in their favor in a key third quarter surge.

Trailing 26-22 at the end of the first half, Amsterdam tightened its defense, and as they’ve done so any times in the past turned it into offense. Brady Santiago got things started for AHS dialing long distance for a three point play cutting the Hudson Falls lead to one. The Lady Tigers leading scorer Brie McKinney (15 points) netted a pair of free throws to give Hudson Falls a little room but Santiago wasn’t finished and connected on her next attempt closing the gap once again. Moments later, the energetic Lady Rams press defense made its presence felt when Liverio intercepted a pass near mid-court and found Santiago wide open behind the arc. The soft spoken junior guard could be heard loud and clear when her next triple gave the Lady Rams the lead 30-28. It was the beginning of an 11-2 run to open the second half giving Amsterdam a lead it would not relinquish. A slight adjustment in the Lady Rams defense kept Hudson Falls from getting entry passes close to the basket and forced turnovers on three straight possessions in the third quarter, just enough of a window for Amsterdam to take advantage.

“We adjusted our press,” Amsterdam coach Eric Duemler said. “We moved our second line a little deeper in the second half.”

Jailene Irizarry hauled down a rebound and was fouled on the next Lady Rams drive. Irizarry’s free throw inched them ahead 31-28, and was followed by a steal in the Hudson Falls end by Nina Fedullo, who drove the length of the court and avoided a pair of quick Hudson Falls defenders giving AHS its biggest led since the first quarter. Sophie Lebrum ended the run with a lay up, but Giuliana Pritchard and Fedullo got another one started fighting their way to the rim. Fedullo’s put back of a miss close to the net gave Amsterdam a 37-30 lead, and after a three by Lady Tigers; Madison Akins ended that run, Fedullo started another one driving to the basket and drawing foul on a rebound attempt. Fedullo’s free throw closed out the quarter with AHS in front 38-33. Amsterdam kept pounding their way inside picking up fouls along the way. The Lady Rams shot 21 for 26 from the free throw line, a season best, and always made at least one of two attempts from the stripe. Amsterdam played smart defense, particularly in the second half where Hudson Falls attempted only four foul shots, making three. Amsterdam continued to play smart and determined in the fourth quarter sensing they had what it takes to knock off an unbeaten league opponent.

“That team (Hudson Falls) is physical and tough,” Coach Duemler said. “We had to put our hard hats on as we came out in the second half. Our girls had the guts and the heart and played with all they had in the second half.”

Amsterdam did not stop attacking the rim, hammering away at that wall of defenders. A steal and a drive by Fedullo got things started as AHS became only the second team to score 40 points against the Hudson Falls defense this year. Autumn Duemler fought off three Lady Tigers for a rebound and two more points and then swatted away a pass on the next Hudson Falls attempt. McKinney scored back to back threes trimming the lead to 42-39, but Amsterdam’s defense tightened denying her a chance to set up for another. Again, they kept coming. Amsterdam’s Pritchard and Grace Catena fought their way through the defense and made good on their foul shots boosting the lead back to seven, 46-39, and on each possession the Lady Rams took as much time as they could off the game clock. Autumn Duemler and Hudson Falls’ Naesha Kelly traded free throws making it a 47-40 Amsterdam advantage with less than a minute to play. Lebrum and McKinney cut the lead to 47-44, but on McKinney’s next drive an offensive foul call with 19.6 seconds left sent Fedullo to the line where she made it a two possession game 48-44. Hudson Falls put up a flurry of shots late but did not find the mark, and when Liverio corralled a miss by Kierra McCarthy, she helped seal the win with one last free throw.

“Just stay calm and make the shot,” Liverio said on her focus at the line. “We beat them under the boards by ten in the second half.”

Amsterdam did in fact hold a 17-7 rebounding advantage in the second half, and along with a good night shooting fouls shots, helped key the win. The second half play by the Lady Rams was notably different from the first half where they gave up 18 points in the first quarter and trailed 18-14 after one period. Liverio scored the first points of the game off the opening tip and Santiago drilled her first three helping AHS build a 5-2 lead. Baskets by Pritchard and Fedullo boosted it to 11-5 before Hudson Falls went on a 9-0 run getting points from Kylie Goodbred, Akins, Regan Collier-Hogan, and LeBrum to take the lead 14-11. Irizarry tied it up briefly at 14-14 before Collier -Hogan and McKinney put HFHS up by four heading to the second quarter. The two teams matched each other with eight points each in the second frame. Fedullo scored five of her team high 15 in the period for Amsterdam. Pritchard and Grace Catena also scored for the Lady Rams. Kelly scored six of her seven points in the period for Hudson falls, who led at the break 26-22.

Santiago was next on the charts after Fedullo with 11 points including all three of her teams’ long distance shots. Seven of Fedullo’s team high 15 came from the foul line. Pritchard followed up Fedullo’s effort with nine points and eight rebounds with five points coming from the line. Irizarry and Grace Catena each had four points for the Lady Rams. Liverio and Autumn Duemler scored three apiece for Amsterdam, and Liverio’s six rebounds were a personal best this season. Maria Lomanto also had one rebound and one assist for the Lady Rams.

Hudson Falls was led by McKinney with 15 points. Akins was next with nine followed by Kelly with seven. Lebrum added six points and three rebounds, and Collier- Hogan scored five points with four rebounds. Kylie Goodbred had two points and one rebound, and Kierra McCarthy gathered in two rebounds in the Lady Tigers effort.

The win was the seventh in a row for an Amsterdam team that has not lost since December 28, 2015 against Baldwinsville in their opening game of the Amsterdam Holiday College Showcase. It was also the Lady Rams seventh win against a Class A opponent where they are a perfect 7-0 in those contests. Amsterdam has lost to only one class B team, Glens Falls, back on December 14th, perhaps leading some to think that the Lady Rams wouldn’t stand a chance against Hudson Falls, who defeated Glens Falls 34-33 earlier in the year.

“Knowing that they were an undefeated team made us want to beat them,” Giuliana Pritchard said. “There was a lot of talk in the newspapers about Glens Falls, but no one was giving us a chance to beat them. They thought it was going to be an easy win. We showed them we could beat them. We showed them we could win.”

Amsterdam (11-3 overall, 10-1 Foothills Council) returns to action on Monday when they welcome the Scotia-Glenville Lady Tartans to AHS. The two teams took overtime to decide a game won by Amsterdam 56-53 at Scotia-Glenville on January 11. The Lady Rams will travel to Saratoga Springs High School on Wednesday for a rematch with the Lady Blue Streaks who handed the Lady Rams their first loss 60-48 at AHS back on December 12. Amsterdam will then head to the Gauchos Tournament in New York City on Janiuary 30-31. Tip times for the games on Monday and Wednesday are set for 7pm.

The Amsterdam Girls Basketball Program is hosting their second basketball clinic on Sunday at Amsterdam High School from 11am-1pm. The free clinic is open for girls in grades 2-8 who must be singed in by a parent or guardian. Coaches and players of the Amsterdam varsity and junior varsity teams will be on hand to teach girls the fundamentals of the game. Over 40 girls participated in last weeks clinic.

Authors note: According to the latest poll released by the New York State Sportswriters Association (NYSSWA), the Amsterdam High School Lady Rams basketball team is not ranked in the top 25 teams in Class A. Ranked teams from Section 2 include Hudson Falls (22), Averill Park (20), and Academy of Holy Names (14). Glens Falls is ranked 14th in Class B.

Flint keys JV Lady Rams win 46-37

Taylor Flint scored a game high 18 points leading the junior varsity Lady Rams over Hudson Falls 46-37 Thursday night at Amsterdam High School. Flint scored from everywhere on the court with driving lay ups, free throws and tossed in three triples to post her personal best. Gianna Derosa followed Flint’s efforts with 11 points and five assists for AHS. Mady Carmona matched Derosa with 11 points, Karly Power and Natalie Fernandez each scored two points, and Yarlyn Toro and Lilian Orengo scored one each for the Lady Rams. Jana Depalo led Hudson Falls with 16 points. Danielle Kitchner was next with nine points.

(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.