Lady Rams basketball advance to semifinals, Pritchard reaches 500 for season

It’s not easy for any team to defeat a formidable opponent three times during a season, but that’s just what the Amsterdam Lady Rams had to do Thursday night to continue playing in the 2018 New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) Section 2 Class A basketball tournament. A strong defensive effort combined with a well balanced offensive output with four Lady Rams players scoring in double digits propelled Amsterdam past the South Glens Falls Lady Bulldogs for the third time this season, 66-50 at Amsterdam High School, sending them into the Class A semifinals.

“I thought our defense was solid throughout most of the game,” Amsterdam coach Eric Duemler said. “My kids were closing it. We made some good defensive plays.”

Amsterdam needed that strong defense to defeat South Glens Falls in the previous two meetings. The Lady Rams held the Lady Bulldogs to 23 points in the first half, nine in the first quarter in their 68-55 victory at home back on December 11, 2017. AHS was even better in the rematch on January 25, 2018 at SGFHS when Amsterdam’s defense gave up only three points in the first quarter, and 18 in the first half. Thursday’s effort was more of the same type of play.

Tied at 9-9 after the first quarter, the Lady Bulldogs continued to employ a “box and one” style of defense to contend with AHS’ leading scorer Giuliana Pritchard, keeping the senior forward off the scoreboard in the first eight minutes. But the Lady Rams have proven in the past, they are more than just one primary player.

AHS senior point guard Lucia Liverio took charge in the second quarter and made a strong move to the rim for a score completing the three-point play with a free-throw for a 12-9 lead. Liverio took some of the attention away from Pritchard, scoring five of Amsterdam’s nine points in the first quarter, and eight points total in the first half. Liverio’s three-point play sparked a 12-point AHS run to start the second quarter and gave the Lady Rams a lead they held until the final bell. Pritchard scored the first two of her team-high 22 points getting an assist by Liverio and a 14-9 lead. The Lady Rams “one-three-one” zone defense caused a pair of steals by freshmen Jackie Stanavich and Charli Beekman boosting the margin to 18-9. Senior guard Gianna DeRosa wrapped up the offensive outburst with a three point shot growing the led to 21-9. Pritchard worked free of the Lady Bulldogs defense and scored seven points in the quarter as the team headed into the break with AHS in front 28-15. Amsterdam’s defense was once again key, holding South Glens Falls to only six points in the second quarter.

“Our one-three-one zone definitely helped,” Pritchard said. “We were getting tips and deflections, and getting rebounds, and in the end it showed.”

The Lady Rams kept the pressure on in the second half and did a better job cleaning up on the offensive boards. Elena Fedullo earned two from the free throw stripe giving AHS its largest lead at 30-15, and Pritchard expanded that by two more after another steal by freshman Antonia May. South High responded with a basket by Ally Buser, and a three by Hannah Breen, but Amsterdam continued to break away scoring eight of the next ten points with Pritchard getting five of those including a long distance three that extended the lead to 40-22. Then, on the very next play Pritchard picked up her third foul on a three point attempt by Mackenzie Collier and headed to the bench. Collier’s shot fell through and the SGF senior guard netted the foul shot completing a rare four-point play. With Pritchard on the bench, Collier took matters into her own hands and scored the next four points slicing the lead to ten at 40-30. Collier scored 12 of her game high 26 points in the third quarter. A Liverio assisted, well timed three by May, and a free throw by Taylor Flint prevented the lead from being further diminished as AHS held a 44-37 advantage heading to the final eight minutes. That’s where defense and rebounding once again took center stage.

Lady Rams center Elena Fedullo maintained the Lady Rams presence in the paint with a solid move to the rim. Fedullo showed her game on the defensive end moments later when she lowered the hammer on a layup attempt by Buser. Stanavich gathered up the loose ball and finished with two on the other end, earning a trip to the foul line. The missed free throw was secured by Pritchard, who put it home for two more pushing the Lady Rams lead to 50-37. Collier dialed it back to ten with a three, but the Lady Bulldogs couldn’t stop a well balanced effort by the Lady Rams offense, and they couldn’t stop an historic moment in Lady Rams basketball.

Coming into the quarterfinal match up with the Lady Bulldogs, Giuliana Pritchard needed only 18 points to reach the 500 mark for the season. That number had reduced to two in the early minutes of the fourth when Pritchard drew a foul on a drive into the Lady Bulldogs defense. She netted both free throws and became the first player in Lady Rams history to score 500 points in a season.

“I never really thought about it,” Pritchard said after the game. “I have such a great team. I couldn’t have done any of this without my teammates.”

Following a three by Breen, Amsterdam went on a 9-0 run keyed in typical Lady Rams fashion with tips, deflections, and rebounds. Turnovers created by Liverio and May, and offensive rebounds from Pritchard and Fedullo sparked the late run that put the game away. Amsterdam also went seven of eight from the foul line capping off the night and punching Amsterdam’s ticket into the next round.

“South High did a better job with passing,” Coach Duemler said. “We still got a lot of turnovers. We want to run, and get out in transition.”

Stanavich was next on the AHS chart with 13 points. Fedullo followed with 11 points, Liverio finished with ten, May, DeRosa and Beekman each had three, and Taylor Flint added one for Amsterdam (19-2).

Collier led South Glens Falls with 26 points. Breen was next with nine, Buser had seven, Jordan Palmer and Emma Bovair each had three, and Celyna Shaw had two. Collier, Buser, Palmer, Shaw, Madyson Ruby, and Emily Joss all seniors, played in their last game for South Glens Falls.

The Lady Rams will need another well-rounded effort when they take on the Academy of Holy Names in the first Class A semifinal on Tuesday at Colonie High School. Holy Names was a 40-27 winner over the Queensbury Lady Spartans, who were held to a season low point total by the Colonial Council champions. Holy Names improved to 20-1 with the win, and were led by Keira Cohen and Grace Field with nine points each. Haliey Ballard and Hope Sullivan each had nine for Queensbury.

“It will be a great defensive battle,” Coach Duemler said. “We’ll prep, get back to work in practice and be ready to go on Tuesday.”

Tip time for the Amsterdam game against Holy Names is set for 6pm. That game will be followed by Gloversville taking on defending champion Averill Park. The Lady Warriors defeated Hudson Falls 68-31 for their place in the semifinals. Gloversville was a 62-47 winner over Scotia-Glenville earning a second straight semifinal trip. The Gloversville and Averill Park game is scheduled for 7:45pm.

Authors Notes; Thursday’s quarterfinal game with South Glens Falls marked the second time in four years that Amsterdam has had to play an opponent three times in a season. Back in the 2014-2015 campaign, Amsterdam defeated Scotia- Glenville twice in the regular season, but fell short in the Class A quarterfinals.

The Foothills Council placed six teams in the NYSPHSAA Section 2 Class A quarterfinals. Queensbury, South Glens Falls, Gloversville, Scotia- Glenville, and Hudson Falls all won their opening round games, and joined second seed Amsterdam in the quarterfinals. The Lady Rams received a first round bye. And, for the second second straight year both Amsterdam and Gloversville advanced to the Class A semifinals.

Amsterdam freshman Antonia May now has a team best 33 three point goals. She is only seven away from adding her name to the Section 2 record book that lists players with 40 or more three point goals in a season. If May reaches the mark she will be the first Lady Rams freshman to accomplish the feat.

Amsterdam has three players not in the starting lineup with more than 60 points scored. Seniors Gianna DeRosa (66pts), and Taylor Flint (65pts), and freshman Charli Beekman (67pts) have all made significant contributions off the bench.

Amsterdam senior Giuliana Pritchard also scored career point 1,000 against South Glens Falls back in January. With four more points, Pritchard (1,218pts) will pass her uncle Mike Sollecito (1,221pts) on the all time basketball scoring list at AHS. When she does, the Lady Rams will have two of the top three scorers in school history. Nina Fedullo (1,500pts) and Todd Cetnar (1,621pts) hold the top two spots.

Amsterdam expanded its roster with several junior varsity call ups including sophomores Kayli Hoefs, Francesca DeRosa, and Grace Patrei, freshmen Andie Gannon and Mianna Jackson, and eighth grader Sydney Hoefs.

The Lady Rams currently are on a nine game win streak, their longest this season.

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.