The Amsterdam Running Rams varsity basketball team had five players score in double digits, including a 15 point, 17 rebound effort from senior Keenan Holloway, and used a late first half run to surge past Bishop Maginn in a first round New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) Section 2 Class A tournament game Wednesday night at Amsterdam High School.
It was the second time in nine days that the Rams and Griffins met on the AHS court. Amsterdam defeated Bishop Maginn 92-67 in its last regular season contest on senior night back on February 9. This time however, the game was a matter of win and move on, and unlike the rout nine days ago, the Griffins came out like a team with something to prove, and the Rams showed signs of a team that hadn’t played in week, and had to pick up speed.
“It took us a while,” Amsterdam head coach Tim Jones said. “Brian (Stanavich) led like a senior should lead.”
It was a strange twist of fate before the game even started when Brian Stanavich was announced in the AHS starting lineup. The Running Rams actually went with their starting five of seniors Keenan Holloway, Ben Rhodes, Kory Bergh, Matt Fedullo, and junior Tysean Hanna, but when the older Stanavich brother did enter the game, he had an immediate impact.
The Griffins had battled their way to a 6-1 lead early in the first quarter on drives to the rim and free throws by Taylor Blue Clarke and Dominique Threatt when Brian Stanavich made his first appearance. Stanavich took a pass from Rhodes and weaved around a pair of Bishop Maginn defenders all the way to the net. He did it twice more, after a steal at mid court, and then again on a pass from Bergh giving Amsterdam a 7-6 lead.
“We were doing the run and jump,” said Stanavich on the Rams style of offense. “We started going to the basket more and it worked.”
Maginn held a 16-12 lead after one quarter after going on a 10-2 run with points coming from Threatt, Joey Ward, and Ayyub Ward to close out the first eight minutes. However, the Running Rams quickness in getting to the rim eventually gave them the lead for good. Stanavich got plenty of help from his friends, most notably the front court duo of Keenan Holloway and Matt Fedullo.
The Griffins played tough in the opening minutes of the second quarter and worked their way out to a seven point advantage, 20-13 via a three point shot by Blue Clarke and a free throw by Joey Ward. A jump shot by Bergh and a put back by Holloway cut it to three in front of a basket by Tyshane Vastion, who totaled 27 points in the Griffins first meeting with the Rams, but was held to two points in the first half Wednesday night. The Running Rams were then true to their name and went on a 16-2 run to end the first half. Tysean Hanna hit two free throws and on the next AHS possession Brian Stanavich cut it to one with another drive to the rim. That effort was then followed by a pair of free throws from Rhodes that gave Amsterdam the lead it never gave back. Matt Fedullo scored on a one handed lay up, and Bergh added another pair of free throws putting AHS up 27-22. Stanavich took an assist from Rhodes that was later accented by a steal and a hoop from Keenan Holloway. Matt Fedullo scored after yet another steal, and by the time Vastion scored again for the Griffins, AHS had a 33-24 halftime lead. Six Amsterdam players scored during the game changing run. Stanavich and Fedullo scored five points apiece, and Holloway, who at times had to battle at least three Griffins defenders, came away with six big, second quarter rebounds.
“Keenan’s (Holloway) fifteen points and seventeen rebounds was a difference maker,” Coach Jones said. “Keenan (Holloway) played great and so did Matt (Fedullo).”
“I was just playing my game,” added Holloway. “Grab the rebounds and play tough. We came out slow but picked it up. We know we have to play well out of the gate.”
The Griffins tried to keep pace with the AHS offense and cut the lead to single digits in the third quarter with a basket by Threatt making the score 37-30, but the Rams persistence and efficiency in getting inside and scoring never let their opponent back in the game. A three by Rhodes pushed the AHS advantage back to double digits and later a drive by Matt Fedullo on an assist by Bergh kept it there at 42-33. Whenever Bishop Maginn tried to get close, the Amsterdam fast break offense made it look like the game was getting a lot further away.
Keenan Holloway answered a three by the Griffins’ Taevon Wallace for a 48-37 AHS lead, and then Rhodes, Dale Stanavich, and Louis Fedullo all answered Bishop Maginn scores’ giving the Running Rams a 55-42 cushion heading into the fourth quarter. Rhodes’ basket came on an “alley oop” pass to the rim by Bergh. It was plenty of offense in motion for the Running Rams.
“We picked it up and pushed the ball more in the second quarter,” said Matt Fedullo, who led the Running Rams with 16 points. “Our offense came out of that. I think we are one of the fastest teams in the section. We can run with anybody.”
“Our energy was there when we were on the break,” Coach Jones said.
The Griffins wouldn’t go away and continued to make a game of it in the fourth quarter cutting the lead to 55-45 on a three by Blue Clarke, but a pair of acrobatic layups by Hanna boosted the AHS lead to 59-45. A triple by Bergh answered a deuce by Vastion and AHS had its biggest lead at 62-47. The Griffins kept fighting and narrowed the margin to 62-53 on back to back threes by Vastion and Wallace, and later cut it to eight at 64-56 with four minutes left on a three point play by Joey Ward. Keenan Holloway, Matt Fedullo, and Rhodes scored on consecutive trips down the floor and that ended the Griffins run, and proved to be too much for the Griffins to overcome as the lead never went under ten points after that. The Running Rams front court teamed up for 27 rebounds and out- muscled the Griffins in the paint. That type of effort is something the Rams know they will have to continue in order to advance among the battle tested teams in Class A.
“We need to rebound, play defense and stay confident,” said Keenan Holloway, who along with Kory Bergh scored 15 points in the winning effort. “We can’t let the little things bother us.”
Amsterdam (15-6 overall) advances to play in the 1pm contest at Hudson Valley Community College against the fifth seed, Averill Park. The Rams have had a history of overtime games in the quarter-final round the last two seasons against Averill Park and Queensbury. Amsterdam knows they have to be ready for anything.
“We know we have to play better,” Coach Jones said. “In the sectionals you have to keep moving on. We can’t sleepwalk through a team like Averill Park.”
“I’m excited to play Averill Park,” added Matt Fedullo. “If we keep playing upbeat I don’t think anyone can stop us.”
Rhodes and Brian Stanavich were next on the Amsterdam scoring chart with 11 points each giving the Running Rams five players with more than ten points. Hanna scored six points, Dale Stanavich scored four points, and Louis Fedullo added two points. Anthony Aponte picked up a pair of steals and dealt out a pair of assists in the winning cause.
Blue -Clarke was the leading scorer for the Griffins with 15 points. Vastion and Threatt each chipped in with 12 points, Joey Ward added 11, Wallace was next with eight points including an air of threes, Ayyub Ward added six points, and Bobby Frazier scored one point for Bishop Maginn.
On the horizon for the Running Rams is a trip to the semi-finals at the Glens Falls Civic Center, but they first must get past a battle tested Averill Park squad that has already played a tough Suburban Council schedule packed with Class AA teams. Amsterdam knows it will need plenty of support on Sunday afternoon.
“It will be a great game,” said Brian Stanavich. “I think we will have a lot of people to support us on Sunday. It will be the best game of the weekend.”