Lady Rams four game win streak snapped by Glens Falls

The level of competition at Friday night’s Amsterdam varsity girls basketball game against the Glens Falls Lady Indians lived up to expectations. The Lady Rams faced about as much adversity as any team could handle, including the absence of starting forward Giuliana Pritchard due to illness. Amsterdam came close to coming away with a win despite all they had to overcome, but in the end, Glens Falls sophomore Sophie Tougas scored a game high 23 points including 11 in a decisive fourth quarter helping the Lady Indians snap Amsterdam’s four game win streak 63-56, in front of an enthusiastic crowd at Amsterdam High School.

“Both schools bring their best game,” Sophie Tougas said. “We look forward to this game because both teams play their hardest.”

Amsterdam recovered from a 12 point deficit to tie the game at 33-33 late in the third quarter on a pair of free throws from Nina Fedullo and continued to stay within striking distance due to a 15 point outburst in the third by senior guard Maria Lomanto. However, a 12-2 run keyed by Sophie Tougas and her sister Lucy stretching from late in the third quarter to the opening minutes of the fourth quarter once again put Glens Falls in front by double digits and made it too much for Amsterdam to overcome.

Sophie Tougas answered Fedullo’s game tying measure with a deep three-point shot for a 36-33 Glens Falls lead. Lomanto’s last points of the game cut the lead to one, but Sophie Tougas responded again to put the lead back to three. Grace Catena’s drive to the rim on an assist by Lucia Liverio kept AHS close, but Sophie Tougas scored the last three points of the quarter and Glens Falls was up four 41-37 headed to the last eight minutes.

“We clawed back in and played better defense,” Amsterdam coach Eric Duemler said. “Every time we got close, then Sophie Tougas hit a twenty-five footer.”

Sophie Tougas picked up where she left off to open the fourth quarter connecting for a three-point basket from the left wing. The Lady Rams turned the ball over on their next possession and Lucy Tougas took the ball to the rim giving Glens Falls a nine-point cushion at 46-37, a lead that increased to ten at 49-39 when Felicity Williams connected for one of Glens Falls six three-point makes. Williams was the only player off the bench to score for the Lady Indians, but her nine points proved to be valuable as well.

“Felicity Williams was exceptional coming off the bench,” Glens Falls coach Mark Girard said. “Her defense was good as well, and we gave her minutes guarding Nina (Fedullo).”

Still, the Lady Rams proved they had plenty of fight left in them. Nina Fedullo took charge of the Lady Rams chances and scored the next seven points with three coming from the foul line slicing the Glens Falls advantage to three once again at 49-46. But, just when it looked as if Amsterdam had reached the end of its uphill climb, Sophie Tougas rained in another three pushing the lead back to six. Time continued to fade, but the Lady Rams continued to fight. The next Amsterdam possession appeared headed for another turnover, but was rescued by a three-point shot from junior Taylor Flint, who saw significant playing time throughout the game. Amsterdam had it back to a one possession game at 52-49 and called a time out.

“We caught a break with Taylor’s three,” Coach Duemler said. “It looked like it was going to be a bad possession. We called the time out just to get us where we needed to be mentally. We were not as comfortable as we could have been.”

Nina Fedullo traded points with Glens Falls’ Taylor Scarincio keeping the margin at three before Scarincio and Lucy Tougas opened it up to seven, 58-51 on consecutive trips down the floor. A pair of free throws by Catena cut into that lead before Sophie Tougas’ third three-point shot of the quarter stretched it to eight. Catena struck once more on a put back and one, but Sophie Tougas buried her final two points from the free throw line with 18 seconds left and the Lady Rams ran out of chances.

“We could have folded when they tied it,” Coach Girard said. “The girls stepped up. Sophie (Tougas) said it’s time to play. It’s time to step up, and we did.”

“My sister (Lucy Tougas) brought us together,” Sophie Tougas said. “She calmed everyone down. She’s like the general and said it was time to step up.”

Amsterdam tied it up despite a near disastrous first quarter where they managed their lowest point total of any quarter this season, only two points to Glens Falls 14. Amsterdam turned the ball over several times in the first quarter and didn’t score until the 2:16 mark on a lay up by Nina Fedullo. Glens Falls benefited from its supporting cast getting on the board as Scarincio, Williams, Emilie Moses and Caitlin Hogan all scored before Sophie Tougas netted her first points of the game. Neither team scored until over two minutes were gone in the opening quarter with Scarincio providing the first points followed by Moses. Hogan’s only three-point shot came after Nina Fedullo’s first points and gave Glens Falls a 9-2 lead. Lucy Tougas scored with a pair of free throws making it 14-2 Glens Falls after one.

“We dug ourselves a deep hole after the first quarter and couldn’t get out,” Nina Fedullo said. “We had to settle down with the ball and get into our rhythm.”

Amsterdam played even with the Lady Indians in the second quarter. Scarnicio started the second quarter as she did the first and Glens Falls had its largest lead of the game at 16-2. Nina Fedullo scored again and was the only Lady Ram to score in each quarter, slicing it to 16-4, but she started to get plenty of help as Amsterdam placed both Maria Lomanto and Brady Santiago in the game together and it paid off. Glens Falls was aware of the capability of the three-point hurling duo, but found them more difficult to stop.

Santiago struck for her first triple after a pair by Lucy Tougas to make it 18-7. Glens Falls went on a 6-0 run midway through the second keyed by Lucy Tougas, Williams, and Sophie Tougas’ first points of the game to create some space, but after a pair of free throws by Lucia Liverio, Santiago dialed in again with her second three cutting the lead back to 24-12. Moments later Nina Fedullo was fouled on another three point attempt and converted two of three from the line helping Amsterdam take some momentum into the locker room down only 26-14 at halftime.

“After the horrendous first quarter, we played under control,” Coach Duemler said. “We tried to do too much and had too many turnovers and mental mistakes. A couple of kids fouled out and we had kids playing minutes they weren’t accustomed to. I’m proud of the girls for clawing their way back.”

Lomanto picked up where Santiago left off and had a game similar to Santiago’s when the teams last faced each other almost a year ago in the Foothills Council title game. Lomanto’s first three came in the opening minute of the third quarter to cut the lead to nine. Lucy Tougas answered with a drive to the rim, and one, followed by Elena Fedullo’s only points of the game on yet another assist by Liverio. Scarincio’s put back made it 31-19 before Lomanto went on an impressive nine-point run.

The next three trips down the floor all resulted in a Lomanto three giving the Amsterdam faithful reason to cheer and hope. One of those baskets assisted by Santiago showed that it was difficult for a team to cover both her and Santiago when in the game together. The last of Lomanto’s long distance shots resulted in a foul and when netting the free throw, the Glens Falls lead was only two, 31-29.

“Number one (Lomanto) was amazing,” Sophie Tougas said. “She shot lights out. She (Lomanto) and Nina (Fedullo) played incredible, and they came back.”

“Once Maria hit one we knew we could run more plays through her,” Coach Duemler said. “Then they put a smaller girl on Nina and we started to do more through her.”

Lomanto scored all 15 of her points in the third quarter, and between her and Santiago, had six of Amsterdam’s seven three pointers, but neither scored in the fourth quarter. Sophie Tougas answered Lomanto’s last three with a ten foot jump shot to put the lead back to four. Nina Fedullo then scored on the next two trips by the Lady Rams to knot the score at 33-33, but Amsterdam never had the lead.

“Once we get going we really can’t stop,” said Nina Fedullo, who led Amsterdam with 19 points and 14 rebounds. “Maria was knocking down shots and we were going.”

“I was thinking we have to pick up momentum and play,” Sophie Tougas said. “They played phenomenal defense in the first half and we had to pick up our game.”

If a poor first quarter, facing a league rival and one of the top Section 2 schools wasn’t enough of a challenge, the Lady Rams learned before the game that they would be without the talents of junior starting forward Giuliana Pritchard, who averages better than 12 points and 10 rebounds per game. Pritchard missed the game due to illness.

“We found out before the game that Giuliana (Pritchard) couldn’t play,” Nina Fedullo said. “We showed that we had people who could come off the bench and step up.”

Grace Catena followed Nina Fedullo (nine FT’s) and Lomanto with nine points, seven in the fourth quarter for Amsterdam (10-2 overall, 7-1 Foothills Council). Brady Santiago’s six points and Taylor Flint’s three points matched the production of the Glens Falls bench. Lucia Liverio had two points, two rebounds and four assists, Elena Fedullo contributed two points, and Gianna Derosa came away with one rebound and one assist for the Lady Rams, who made 17 free throws to GFHS’ 13.

Felicity Williams provided all of Glens Falls scoring from its bench with nine points and three rebounds. Lucy Tougas complimented her sisters’ totals with 12 points and seven rebounds. Taylor Scarincio’s 12 points, Caitlin Hogan’s five points, and Emilie Moses’ two points were all an important factor in the win for Glens Falls (12-2 overall, 8-0 Foothills Council). Williams, Scarincio, Hogan, and Moses teamed up to score 19 of the Lady Indians 26 first half points.

Amsterdam begins another three game road trip with a game at Rome Free Academy on Saturday followed by games at Niskayuna on Tuesday, and at Johnstown on Thursday. Despite the loss, Amsterdam still leads the Foothills Council South division.

“We have to continue to work hard and execute,” Nina Fedullo said. “We want to get back to the Civic Center.”

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.