Lady Rams basketball team claims Foothills Council title

An opponent other than the Glens Falls Lady Indians in the Foothills Council title game would have been anti-climactic for the Amsterdam Lady Rams varsity basketball team. They were hoping for a rematch with the only team in the league that had defeated them this season. Thursday night the Lady Rams got their wish and executed a solid game plan getting every point from their starting five, and unlike a year ago, won the Foothills Council title game 59-56 over the Lady Indians at the Glens Falls Civic Center.

“It feels amazing, I was hoping we would play Glens Falls,” said Amsterdam sophomore Giuliana Pritchard. “Everyone was in the mindset that we could do this. It was a team effort. Nina (Fedullo) was awesome, Brady (Santiago) was on fire, having KD (Kaitlyn Devine ) back, Autumn (Duemler), and the girls off the bench Maria (Lomanto), Lucia (Liverio), Grace (Catena), and Rayven (Roach). Everyone was amazing. We played so well together.”

They trusted each other from the opening tip to the final bell. Everything they had learned about basketball from their early years to Thursdays’ game was put to the test and the Lady Rams were ready on both offense and defense, especially when Glens Falls attempted a rally in the closing minutes of the game.

Amsterdam led 45-36 in the fourth quarter when the Lady Indians began to chip away at the lead with Lucy Tougas scoring the next five points trimming the deficit to four. Pritchard answered with a drive to the rim for Amsterdam giving Glens Falls another AHS scoring option to be concerned about on a night that saw Lady Rams starters Brady Santiago and Nina Fedullo team up for 48 points. A three point shot by Emilie Moses and a free throw by Scarincio made it a two point game 47-45 with under five minutes to play, but Pritchard struck again taking a pass from Devine in for two more and drew a foul on Scarincio, her fourth. Moments later, Devine found Fedullo for another pair boosting the lead back to six before free throws by Sophie Tougas and Scarincio again made it a one possession game. Pritchard struck one last time on a pinpoint pass from Devine while the sophomore forward moved into the lane. Pritchard scored six of her seven points in the fourth quarter helping keep Glens Falls from capping any momentum to regain the lead, her last basket pushing the lead back to five, 53-48.

Caitlyn Hogan’s first three point shot of the quarter again cut the lead to a single possession, but Santiago responded for the Lady Rams drawing the fifth foul on Scarincio on a drive to the basket and netting a pair of free throws with 90 seconds left to play putting Amsterdam up 55-51. Prior to those two foul shots, every other point by Santiago was from beyond the three point arc. The points from the stripe couldn’t have come at a better time because Hogan’s second triple sliced the lead to a single point. Santiago answered on a drive to the rim on Amsterdam’s next trip down the floor with what proved to be the game winning basket and giving her 201 points for the season. Amsterdam led 57-54 with less than a minute to play. Santiago finished with a game high, career high 25 points, including seven three-point shots

“There’s a saying that when you miss shots in warm ups, you make them in the game,” Santiago said. “We wanted this win, and it feels so good to get it.”

The last minute of the game proved to be the most tense sixty seconds of the Lady Rams season. Glens Falls junior guard Lucy Tougas had trimmed the lead to one with a pair of free throws and grabbed a defensive rebound on the Lady Rams next trip down the floor with 33.5 second left in the game. However, Tougas turned the ball over when she stepped out of bounds while trying to pass around a “hands up” defense by the Lady Rams. Amsterdam had the ball with 23.8 seconds left, but failed to connect on a pass trying to get the ball inbound and turned it over to Glens Falls. Lucy Tougas then took the ball down the lane but her shot missed and Fedullo fought for position inside and secured the rebound, getting fouled with 11 seconds left to play. The next two free throws were the most important of the game and perhaps of her career, and she netted them both putting the Lady Rams up three, 59-56.

“I was going through the motions,” said Fedullo, who finished with 23 points leaving her only seven shy of 1,000 for her career. “I was going through my mind thinking that I’m going to make these shots.”

Glens Falls still had a chance to tie, but Amsterdam executed its best defense of the game on the last play of the game, and Hogan’s attempt from long distance went off the backboard and out of bounds giving the Lady Rams the chance to run out the clock and celebrate a long awaited win.

“We knew they would make a run,” Amsterdam head coach Eric Duemler said. “I told the girls this was one of those games where we put our hard hats on and play tough. That was great defense on the last possession. We gave them nothing.”

Amsterdam built a 28-24 lead at half time getting all but five of their points from Santiago and Fedullo. The Lady Rams led 10-2 after Santiago connected on her first two from three point range and Fedullo fought her way inside for five points, three from the foul stripe. But, it was Glens Falls that led 13-12 after the first quarter getting nine points from Lucy Tougas including five during a 7-0 run in the last two minutes of the period capped by a fancy under and over shot by sister Sophie Tougas for the lead.

The lead was short lived however, and when Autumn Duemler scored her only points of the game, she joined Fedullo, Santiago, Pritchard, and Maria Lomanto in the Lady Rams 100 point club. The lay up in the first minute of the second frame gave her 101 points for the season. Santiago’s third three of the game and a free throw by Pritchard put AHS up 18-13 in front of a three by Hogan and a pair by Lucy Tougas that tied it up. But, it was the last tie as Santiago again connected from long range giving Amsterdam a lead it never gave back. Santiago connected on her first six attempts from beyond the arc with her fifth make giving AHS its biggest lead 28-20 late in the first half.

“Brady (Santiago) was on fire,” Coach Duemler said. “And Nina (Fedullo) was unbelievable on how she shot the ball.”

Fedullo scored 10 of her 23 points in the third quarter where she and Santiago were responsible for all of the Lady Rams 16 points. Santiago’s final three expanded the AHS lead to 11 points at 40-29, and Fedullo took a pass from Pritchard to keep the momentum flowing at 42-31. Fedullo also connected on free throws answering a pair of scores by Sophie Tougas to keep Amsterdam in front heading to the fourth quarter where the Lady Rams played better on both ends of the floor.

“It’s great to come out with a win,” Fedullo said. “On the bus ride it was like a business trip and we knew we had to play hard, play tough, and be the more aggressive team. When we were on defense we had to stop the ball. Defense wins championships.”

The win was an important step for Amsterdam (15-5 overall, 13-1 Foothills Council), who now await their opponent in the Section 2 Class A playoffs. The meeting to determine the seeds is Wednesday. The win opens up the possibility that the Lady Rams could play a quarterfinal game at home, and it redeemed an Amsterdam loss to Glens Falls back in December at Glens Falls High School.

“We played hard from the beginning to end,” Coach Duemler said. “We had a solid game plan and executed it, and we were composed. Now we just have to continue to work hard and get better.”

Fedullo added 11 rebounds to her 23 points for her eighth “double-double” of the season. Santiago’s 25 points, including seven three pointers was a career high. Pritchard added five rebounds to her seven points as she passed 150 points for the season. Autumn Duemler also added five rebounds to her two points. The other two points for the Lady Rams belonged to senior Kaitlyn Devine, who scored on a length of the court drive in the second quarter after receiving a pass on a steal by Grace Catena to put AHS up 25-19. Devine had five assists in the game with three coming in the crucial fourth quarter. Grace Catena added a rebound to her steal and assist, and Maria Lomanto, Lucia Liverio, and Rayven Roach each had an assist or a rebound in the Lady Rams win.

Glens Falls (12-2 Foothills Council) was led by Lucy Tougas’ 23 points. Her sister Sophie finished with 13 points and a team high nine rebounds. Hogan was next with nine points followed by Scarincio with eight points. Emile Moses scored all her points with a three in the fourth quarter that kept her team in the game at 47-44 with four minutes to play. Moses also added six rebounds to the Glens Falls effort. Emma Bayle also had one rebound for the Lady Indians. Maggie Girard and Nora Borgos had one assist each.

Amsterdam now prepares for sectionals and will help have some help from four players called up from the Lady Rams junior varsity team. Sophomores Gianna Derosa, Taylor Flint and Karly Power, and freshman Elena Fedullo have joined the varsity squad to help strengthen a bench that includes Jailene Irizarry, and Victoria Barone-Lopez, as well as Gabriella Catena and Braelin Aldi, who are recovering from injuries.

Amsterdam will scrimmage Foothills Council South division rival Johnstown on Wednesday at 4pm at Amsterdam High School.

Authors notes:

I attended the Lady Ram practice Wednesday afternoon before the game and saw a confident, focused team ready for the challenge of playing a league rival. Brady Santiago was a definition of that focus during practice and later in the game. Going through my stats I noticed Brady was only 24 points shy of 200 for the season. Before the game, I had wondered if  Santiago could reach 200 points this season, and if she could reach that milestone on Thursday. Late in the fourth quarter of Thursday’s game, I got my answer. Last year, during an incredible comeback where the Lady Rams trailed Schalmont by 18 points in the second half, Santiago took a shot that some thought she should not have. She believed in herself and made it, and has continued to shine ever since. That’s what confidence can do for a career.

It was discovered after Monday’s Lady Rams game against Broadalbin-Perth that Lady Rams junior Nina Fedullo has 970 career points. Monday’s game was still the record breaker, and with Fedullo’s 23 points on Thursday, she is now only seven points shy of 1,000 for her career. She could accomplish that feat in the Lady Rams first sectional game, and would be the first Amsterdam girls’ basketball player to reach the milestone mark. Amsterdam boys basketball players Mike Sollecito and Todd Cetnar both scored over 1,000 points in their careers.

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.