AAU basketball ready to take the court

Area high school basketball teams may have tipped for the last time this season, but the game goes on as Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) teams get ready to take the floor for the Spring and Summer tournaments.

The Amsterdam-based non-profit Wishful Thinking Foundation is assembling eight teams to participate in tournaments from April through June with two tournaments scheduled for the Amsterdam area, and others scheduled as far away as Syracuse.

“There’s a lot of kids here,” said Wishful Thinking’s Matt Moller, who will be coaching three of the teams. “It’s nice that we’re building a name for ourselves.”

Moller was handing out jersey to players on three of the eight teams that practiced at the Bacon Recreation Center on Wednesday night. Moller estimated anywhere from 90 to 100 youths will be playing basketball on both boys and girls teams in six age groups.

Known as “The Fleet,” the Amsterdam AAU basketball teams will feature seven boys teams and one girls team that will play in tournaments across New York state. The Amsterdam boys will be 11-under, 12-under, two 13-under teams, 14-under, 15-under, and 18-Under, and the girls will field one 14-under squad. Many of the players have already completed a full season of basketball at the middle school or high school level, and have an opportunity to maintain a competitive edge, build their skills, and have fun in a season’s worth of AAU ball.

“We’ve had kids come out from other communities like Johnstown, Gloversville, and Duanesburg.” Moller said. “These are competitive teams, some with kids that have played for the successful Amsterdam seventh, eighth and ninth grade teams.”

The Amsterdam AAU teams will compete in weekend tournaments with multiple games on Saturdays, and at least one game on Sundays. Tournaments will be held in Lake George, Oneonta, Syracuse, Troy, and Albany.

Additionally, Amsterdam will be the site of the second annual Madness on the Mohawk Tournament that drew 62 teams to the area last year, playing at three locations: Amsterdam High School, Lynch Literacy Academy, and Fulton-Montgomery Community College in Johnstown. This year the event is scheduled for April 30 and May 1. According to Moller, Wishful Thinking will be using the same locations for the games, and he is expecting at least the same number of teams participating as well.

The interest in and success of the first tournament was so strong that Wishful Thinking has added a second tournament, called the Mohawk Valley Shootout Classic, which will be held in Amsterdam on May 21-22.

“Practices with the older kids have been fun to be a part of,” Moller said. “I’d like to see us win three or four tournaments this year. It’s finally our year to go out and compete. A lot of kids are excited to see new competition and new challenges.”

Coaches for the Amsterdam AAU teams are Jim Bartone and Tony Bottisti (11-Under boys), Damian Carella (12-under boys), Angel Lopez (13- under boys, green), John Sumpter (13-under boys, black), Matt Moller and Osvaldo DeJesus (14-under boys), Matt Moller and Angel Lopez (15-Under boys and 18-under boys), and Bobby Hoefs (14-Under girls).

The AAU tournament season will culminate with the Adidas Tournament in Lake George on June 4-5. But afterwards, players on the eight teams will only have a have little time to relax, as the start of the Wishful Thinking Summer League won’t be far away.

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.