They’ve met three times as Foothills Council rivals, once for the league championship, and all three times for best record in the league. Thursday night the Amsterdam Lady Rams varsity basketball team and the Glens Falls Lady Indians varsity team will meet again at the Glens Falls Civic Center for the second straight year to decide the league title.
Wednesday afternoon the Lady Rams practiced one final time before taking on an opponent that has become their nemesis, and the only team in the Foothills Council to beat them twice. Glens Falls won the title at the Civic Center in February 2015 with a 49-40 victory over Amsterdam, and handed the Lady Rams their only league loss this year back on December 14, 2015 putting up a 65-43 win at Glens Falls High School. But, the Lady Rams were not at full strength for both of those games. That will change on Thursday as Kaitlyn Devine has returned from an early season injury, and Nina Fedullo has had no ill effects from an injury suffered in the meeting between the teams in December when she left the game in the first quarter to have stitches above her right eye. Both Fedullo and Devine will be on the court for Amsterdam for Thursday’s game.
“It’s a big court and having Kaitlyn (Devine) gives us a speed advantage,” said Amsterdam coach Eric Duemer, who picked up his 200th win on Monday against Broadalbin-Perth, the same night Fedullo broke the school scoring record. “The trip to New York City was good for Kaitlyn and helped her get back in the flow. We had an up tempo game on Saturday, and it was a good experience for her.”
The season has also been a learning experience for Amsterdam sophomore Lucia Liverio, who started at point guard for the Lady Rams in the first 14 games during Devine’s absence. Liverio helped guide the Lady Rams on a nine game win streak that included two wins over division rival Scotia-Glenville. Having both Liverio and Devne available for the game gives the Lady Rams flexibility and quickness at the point guard position.
“Having Kaitlyn and Lucia helps us both offensively and defensively,” Coach Duemler said. They may not be on the court at the same time, but they bring energy and feed off each other.”
Devine and Liverio are only the beginning of the roster full of experienced players that appeared relaxed and confident, having fun at Wednesday’s practice. Among the players who have enjoyed an outstanding season is junior Brady Santiago, who is second on the team in scoring behind Fedullo and counted on to make her presence known from beyond the three point arc.
“Brady is a very good shooter,” Coach Duemler said. “She has good form.”
Santiago has been known to make the big shots when her team needs her. At last years’ Amsterdam Holiday College Showcase the Lady Rams trailed Schalmont by 18 points in the second half before they rallied to win. The Lady Sabres didn’t see Santiago as a scoring threat, but Santiago showed she could make the big play, and scored the go ahead basket that gave Amsterdam the lead for good. Her confidence has grown ever since, and making key shots has become normal for the junior guard, who also showed she could make shots against the big teams as well.
“Brady kept us in the game against Truman High School in New York City,” said Coach Duemler of Santiago, who scored 14 against Truman. “Both Brady and Maria (Lomanto) can knock down shots.”
Maria Lomanto has also been having a breakout season joining Fedullo, Santiago, and sophomore forward Giuliana Pritchard as Lady Rams players that have scored over 100 points this season. Amsterdam will need that variety of options on Thursday against a Glens Falls team that also has several players who can put up big numbers.
Glens Falls is led by the Tougas sisters, junior Lucy and her freshman sister Sophie, who have led the Lady Indians in scoring in all three of the previous meetings with the Lady Rams. They have a strong supporting cast including forwards Caitlyn Hogan and Nora Borgos, and guards Taylor Scarincio, Emilie Moses, Maggie Girard, and Emma Bayle. Lucy and Sophie Tougas will likely provide most of the scoring for Glens Falls and challenge the Amsterdam height up front that includes forwards Pritchard and Autumn Duemler.
“We have strength with Giuliana and Autumn, who are tough inside and can rebound,” Coach Duemler said. Grace Catena and Rayven can come off the bench and provide us with depth, and Nina can take over a game. We’re better when Nina trusts her teammates, and we’ve talked about that, and she does.”
Fedullo’s role as the primary scorer is accented by her ability to pass the ball to her teammates. Her number of assists has increased this year, as have those of her teammates which is evident in the point totals of the team. Four members of the Lady Rams have scored more than 100 points and one more could join them on Thursday. The versatility the Lady Rams have will help them Thursday night at the Civic Center. Amsterdam has a game plan in place and knows what they need to do to bring about a different outcome from the previous two meetings.
“We need to take care of the ball on offense,” Coach Duemler said. “We need to pass the ball well and make good decisions with our shots. Defensively, we can’t have mental breakdowns.”
Amsterdam has plenty of players to turn to who can give them good minutes off the bench as they have done all season. Rayven Roach, Grace Catena, Jailene Irizarry, Victoria Barone-Lopez, and Gabriella Catena have all contributed to the Lady Rams success this season. An Amsterdam team at full strength has the only win over Glens Falls in the first game they met.
The Lady Rams defeated Glens Falls 64-52 in January 2015 at Amsterdam High School. AHS had eight players in the scoring column in that game, none more important than Braelin Aldi, who the Lady Indians sent to the free throw line often in the second half of that game. Aldi made 12 out of 13 free throws helping Amsterdam stay in control and in the lead. Her 12 points were the margin of victory. The Lady Rams did well on free throws in practice Wednesday, and it has paid off in recent games. Amsterdam hit 13 of 18 free throws against Saratoga Springs, and 20 out of 26 in a win over Hudson Falls. Making free throws will again be important, and the Lady Rams will be playing Thursday at a venue where only the number of seats for the fans has changed, but not the dimensions of the court.
“The depth perception will be different,” Coach Duemler said. “The crowd is further away. We’ve practiced at larger courts at Fulton Montgomery Community College and at Broadalbin-Perth. They have to hear my voice. It’s the same for both teams. We’re looking forward to the game.”
A victory for Amsterdam could have a bearing on where they will be seeded for the Section 2 playoffs that begin in less than two weeks. Potential opponents for the Lady Rams include South Glens Falls, who the Lady Rams defeated 70-51 in their third game of the season. Also, Lansingburgh, Hudson Falls, the Academy of Holy Names, Scotia-Glenville, Troy and Averill Park could be a possible opponent. Tip time for Thursday’s game at the Glens Falls Civic Center is scheduled for 6pm.
(Photos by Scott Mulford)