Beating the defending state champions once in a season is considered an impressive feat. Doing it twice makes you a contender for the next title. That’s where the Amsterdam Running Rams varsity basketball team is now. The Running Rams turned in another outstanding defensive performance and got some clutch shooting from senior guard Kory Bergh to knock off the defending Class A champions Scotia-Glenville Tartans for the second time this season, 57-46 Tuesday night at Scotia-Glenville High School.
“It was a good defensive effort by everybody,” said Amsterdam coach Scott Beatty, who filled in as head coach for Tim Jones, who was with his wife for the birth of their third child. “We played loose, and like we always play.”
Amsterdam turned the corner in the third quarter holding the Tartans to only six points and got a well balanced scoring effort from the offense to post 18 of their own. Ben Rhodes got things started as he did in the first two quarters by scoring on the Rams’ first possession to expand on their lead at the half. Tysean Hanna followed Rhodes’ lead with a drive to the rim of his own and netted the free throw pushing the lead to eight. The Tartans chipped away at that lead getting back to back shots by Sean DeGraffenreid and Christian Corker to cut in to 28-24 but the Tartans would get no closer. Rhodes showed his toughness on the next drive blocking a shot by Dan Clune into the hands of Hanna who drove the length of the court to push the Rams advantage back to six, 30-24. Rhodes had opened the scoring in each of the first thee quarters of the game and was getting it done on the defensive end as well.
“Ben can hit the three,” Coach Beatty said of Rhodes who’s first two baskets came from beyond the arc. “He’s been working on following through on his shot in practice. He’s a tough player. We’re really happy with Ben.”
Rhodes wasn’t alone shooting the three, Bergh had six of the eight triples by the Running Rams for the game. None more important than a triple that followed Hanna’s shot putting AHS up 33-24 during an 8-0 run in the middle of the third quarter. Keenan Holloway capped the run with a drive to the rim and a free throw for a rare double digit lead over the Tartans 36-24. Amsterdam outscored Scotia-Glenville 13-2 over the last four minutes of the period to take a 41-26 lead in to the fourth quarter. The Running Rams were not about to let up.
The Tartans were up against the ropes in the fourth quarter but came out fighting like a champion. DeGraffenreid buried a long distance three to open the scoring for the Tartans. Anthony Aponte and Rhodes kept pace for the Rams extending the lead to 45-26, but a near capacity crowd on senior night at SGHS got a charge from Rhys TenEyck, the Tartans lone senior who drove home a shot keeping the home team within striking distance. TenEyck, who was honored before the game along with senior Tartan cheerleaders Caroline Cater, Stephanie Santilli, and Natalie Straut, scored all six of his points in a valiant fourth quarter effort. Tartans junior Dan Clune scored five straight points after another shot by Holloway to close the gap, but Bergh was waiting with an answer for the Running Rams. The senior guard, who led the Rams with 19 points buried a pair of threes on consecutive AHS possessions and ended any hopes of a Tartans comeback. AHS led 54-37.
“We came in needing to win,” Bergh said. “Those two shots just put the nail in the coffin.”
“Kory is Kory, he plays hard,” added Coach Beatty. “We need him and he steps up and takes care of it.”
Bergh hit his first pair of back to back threes in the first quarter to put Amsterdam ahead 13-11 after Scotia had taken the lead on an 9-2 run early in the game getting points from four of their starting five. Christian Corker scored seven of a team high 13 points in the opening frame, and DeGraffenreid, Clune and Taylor Thompson all contributed a pair to help tie the game up at 13-13 going into the second period.
DeGraffenreid, who also scored 13 for the Tartans, and Clune found the bottom of the net on consecutive trips down the floor giving Scotia-Glenville the lead for the last time at 20-18 in the closing minutes of a second quarter that was a defensive struggle as the teams’ combined for only 17 points. A lay up by Bergh and a three from Anthony Aponte put Amsterdam up 23-20 with 2:12 remaining in the half. Amsterdam’s defense tightened and denied the Tartans on their last three trips into the Amsterdam zone. The Rams got key rebounds from Rhodes, Matt Fedullo, and Brian Stanavich keeping the score in Amsterdam’s favor by three at halftime. The Rams never trailed the rest of the way.
“It feels good, we just have to move on,” Bergh said. “We still have to keep winning, and we have a big game next week. We’re ready and we want to be playing in that game at the civic center.”
Amsterdam’s win was their ninth in a row, and ties them for first place in the Foothills Council South division with the Tartans. Both teams are 10-2 in the league with one game left to play. The Rams will play the third place team in the division, the Broadalbin-Perth Patriots (8-3 Foothills) on Tuesday at Broadalbin-Perth High School. The Running Rams defeated the Patriots 81-75 last Wednesday at AHS, but BPHS came back in its next game to knock off Foothills Council North leader Glens Falls, a team that Amsterdam lost to earlier in the season. A win over BPHS on Tuesday would clinch the division for the Rams, who now hold the tiebreaker over the Tartans, and put them in the league title game at the Glens Falls Civic Center for a rematch with Glens Falls.
Tysean Hanna was next on the scoring charts for the Rams with 14 points and six rebounds. Rhodes finished the night with 10 points and four rebounds, Holloway scored seven points and added four rebounds, Aponte also chipped in with seven points, Matt Fedullo, Brian Stanavich, and Dale Stanavich each added rebounds in the Rams cause.
Clune helped the Tartans cause with 12 points and eight rebounds, TenEyck added four boards to his six points, and Martin also brought down six rebounds in the Scotia-Glenville effort. The Tartans will wrap up their Foothills Council schedule on Tuesday when they visit Johnstown High School.
Amsterdam and Scotia-Glenville could be on a collision course in the NYSPHSAA Section 2 Class A tournament where the Tartans have won titles on their way to back to back state championships. However, beating a defending state champion team three times in a season is never an easy task and the Rams are well aware of that.
“Winning the first two feels good,” Coach Beatty said. “It’s the third one that matters.”