Lady Rams clinch Foothills title, Pritchard sets new season scoring mark

It was a night to celebrate for the Amsterdam Lady Rams basketball program. After a thrilling one-shot win by the junior varsity team, the Lady Rams varsity came out with a strong 30 point third quarter against the Queensbury Lady Spartans, winning 66-61 and clinching their second Foothills Council title in three seasons.  On top of that, another record fell as Amsterdam senior Giuliana Pritchard set a new single season scoring record with her 26 point effort Thursday night at Amsterdam High School.

The Lady Rams came into Thursday’s contest needing to win their last two games, or one win and a loss by Scotia- Glenville to wrap up their second Foothills Council title since the 2015-2016 season. A young and talented Queensbury team boasting a roster of nine sophomores wasn’t about to make things easy for the Lady Rams and came out firing. Led by Hailey Ballard, Abby Doin, and Hope Sullivan, the Lady Spartans held a 28-26 lead at halftime marking only the second time this season that the Lady Rams trailed in a game at the break. But, the third quarter has often been a rallying point for the Lady Rams, and they got things going with an aggressive defense and an energized offense.

“In the third quarter we played well defensively,” Amsterdam coach Eric Duemler. “Tips and deflections got us going in the third.”

Freshman Jackie Stanavich wasted no time in tying things up with a pair of free throws, and moments later was a beneficiary of one of those deflections when her teammate Lucia Liverio took away a pass by Meghan O’Connor and found Stanavich driving to the rim giving AHS a 30-28 lead. Queensbury continued looking for gaps in the Lady Rams zone defensive schemes and managed to get the ball in the hands of Ballard who put the game back in Queensbury’s favor. However, Ballard had battled foul trouble since the first half, and the Lady Spartans best post up player gave enough space for AHS to take advantage. The result was back to back lay ups by Elena Fedullo pushing Amsterdam in front again. Lexi Downs knotted the score at 34-34 in front of a drive by Stanavich who was fouled on the play. Stanavich missed the free throw, but Pritchard was right there to grab the rebound and after another Queensbury foul took her turn at the line. The Lady Rams dominated under the boards especially on the offensive end and finished the night with 47 rebounds.

“We had a lot of rebounds tonight,” Coach Duemler said “Forty seven is a good total.”

Ballard answered one more time for the Lady Spartans cutting the gap to one at 37-36, but someone left a door open and it was more than enough room for AHS freshman Antonia May to rain in a three from way downtown giving Amsterdam its largest lead of the game. Stanavich took another pass from Liverio in for two more, drew a foul on Ballard, collected a free throw miss and dished off to Pritchard, who powered in for another two and suddenly the Lady Rams lead had doubled. Queensbury called time out at 3:18 in the third quarter. The Lady Rams were not about to let the momentum they had going slip away.

“Our intensity was better in the second half,” Pritchard said. “We had wasted possessions in the first half, but we realized we could be better. We wanted that banner.”

Pritchard gathered in a defensive rebound out of the time out, and Fedullo took one in on the ensuing offensive trip putting it home as the lead grew to ten, 46-36. Queensbury tried to respond getting a free throw from O’Connor and a three-point basket from Sullivan, but Amsterdam closed the third quarter with a 10-4 run getting points from Liverio, Fedullo, and Stanavich, and outscored Queensbury 30-16 heading to the fourth. Amsterdam’s defensive pressure created the scoring outburst in Thursday’s game, just as it had a week earlier when the Lady Rams outscored Queensbury 20-3 in the fourth quarter of their win on the Lady Spartans home court. The fourth quarter was a fight to the finish, and one the Lady Rams weren’t about to lose.

Leading 56-44, Liverio buried a pair of free throws and made like a quarterback on the next play when she scooped up a deflected ball by Pritchard, raced down court and sent a one hopper to Stanavich for a 60-44 lead. Ballard and Sullivan returned to the floor and helped Queensbury cut into the lead eventually narrowing the margin to seven, 64-57 after a pair of baskets by Fiona Hunt. Ballard, who led the Lady Spartans with 19 points fouled out with 1:40 left to play on a drive by Stanavich. A free throw by Stanavich made it 65-57, but Queensbury continued to fight with a pair of baskets by Kaleigh Hunt sandwiched around a free throw by Liverio, and a key defensive rebound by Pritchard. The Lady Rams held off the late rally, and time ran out on the Lady Spartans.

“We’re improving,” Coach Duemler said. “The team is working hard. I’m proud of them. Now we can focus on sectionals.”

The Lady Rams learned after the game that Scotia-Glenville lost their game with South Glens Falls giving the Lady Tartans four losses in the Foothills Council. Amsterdam’s win combined with the Scotia- Glenville loss gave the Lady Rams the Foothills Council crown. Amsterdam has one more game left on heir schedule before the Section 2 playoffs. Monday night’s contest wth Schuylerville is also ‘senior night’ and the Lady Rams basketball program will honor seniors Liverio, Taylor Flint, Gianna DeRosa, and Pritchard, who gave the Lady Rams another reason to celebrate on Thursday by setting a new single season scoring record.

Pritchard entered Thursday’s game needing 16 points to break the single season record of 445 points set by Nina Fedullo during the 2015-2016 season. Amsterdam trailed 24-20 in the early minutes of the second quarter when Pritchard took a pass from Liverio, and from behind the three-point arc netted her only three of the game, and a new Lady Rams record.

“It’s an accomplishment,” Pritchard said. “I didn’t know about it until just recently. I loved playing with Nina (Fedullo) and we pushed each other and it’s an accomplishment to know that I could push myself to be that good too. I have such a great team, and I couldn’t have done it without my teammates.”

Pritchard scored 17 of her game high 26 points in the first half with ten coming in the opening period as the Lady Rams fought of an early challenge by the Lady Spartans. Pritchard’s three-point shot was the only Amsterdam triple of the first half. Doin and Sullivan accounted for three Queensbury long distance baskets in the first half, but the Lady Rams defensive pressure held the Lady Spartans sharpshooters to only one triple in the second half, and never allowed QHS to gain more than a six point lead during the game. Teams have learned throughout the season, a lead that size is not safe against a confident Lady Rams squad.

Pritchard secured yet another “double-double” adding 16 rebounds to her game high 26 points. Stanavich complimented that performance with 17 points and 12 rebounds, and Fedullo made it three solid efforts from the AHS front court with 10 points and six rebounds. Liverio added seven points and five rebounds, and with her first basket of the game coming in the first quarter and AHS trailing 12-6, gave the Lady Rams five players with 100 or more points this season. Antonia May netted four points and four rebounds, and Taylor Flint scored two points for Amsterdam (17-2, 15-2 Foothills Council).

Ballard scored 12 of her team high 19 points in the first half for Queensbury (12-5 Foothills Council). Doin and Sullivan each scored ten points, O’Connor and Kaleigh Hunt chipped in with five points each, Fiona Hunt, and Olivia Nassivera added four points each, and Lexi Downs and Mackenzie Kinney scored two points apiece for the Lady Spartans. Overall, nine of the ten Lady Spartans to take the floor scored in a well-balanced effort.

AHS JV wins in closing minutes 49-47

The Amsterdam Lady Rams junior varsity earned a hard-fought 49-47 win over the Queensbury JV in the early game Thursday night. The Lady Rams had lost their first game of the season at the hands of the young Lady Spartans only a week earlier, but got a little payback by handing the QHS JV their first loss. Sophomore Kayli Hoefs made what proved to be the game winning shot with 13.2 seconds left.

Amsterdam trailed 37-32 entering the fourth quarter, but got a solid effort from freshman Andie Gannon and sophomore Emily Schaufelberg as the two of them boxed out, rebounded and scored cutting the lead to 45-44. Schaufelberg scored all four of her points in the final eight minutes, and Gannon recorded five of her nine points in the period setting up Hoefs game clinching heroics.

Hoefs took the ball to the basket and scored with the shot clock winding down and was fouled on the play. The AHS JV’s top scorer throughout the season calmly netted the free throw putting AHS up by two, 49-47. Queensbury’s Cassidy Ray, who had given her team the lead on an earlier possession attempted a shot that ricocheted off the front of the rim. Several players tried to gain control with a resulting jump ball called, and the possession arrow favoring Amsterdam with 7.2 seconds left. Following the official time out, the Lady Rams had six players on the floor, but the AHS fans noticed and shouted to the players until they realized the error. Had the ball been put in play with AHS having six players on the floor it could have been costly for the Lady Rams. A technical foul may have been called. Queensbury gained possession in the closing seconds but did not manage to get a shot off as the clock expired.

Kayli Hoefs led AHS with 14 points, her younger sister Sydney added six points. Yariana Toro scored six points, Mianna Jackson added five, and Natlie Flint and Grace Patrei scored two points apiece for the Amsterdam JV (18-1, 16-1 Foothills).

Ray led the Lady Spartans JV with 16 points. Kelsey Zehr scored 15 points, Ali Wallace added seven points, Katie MacEachron scored four points, Brigid Duffy added three, and Mirabelle Ross scored two points for the Queensbury JV (16-1 Foothills).

Authors notes: Giuliana Pritchard has scored 456 points this season passing her former teammate Nina Fedullo’s record of 445 points set in the 2015-2016 season. Prior to Fedullo’s efforts, the single season scoring record belonged to Amy Jo Stewart, who totaled 400 points in her senior year (1988-1989). Neither Stewart’s 400 point season or 41 point game (vs. Stillwater in 1989) are listed in the NYSPHSAA Section 2 record book, and should be. Pritchard has now written her name in the record book three times (1,000 plus career points, 400 plus season points, and 40 plus game points), and is the first Lady Rams player to do that. What’s more remarkable is that with at least two games left on Amsterdam’s schedule, she could become the first Lady Ram to score 500 points in a season. But, despite all the records that have fallen in recent years, setting records has never been her goal. Pritchard said at the start of the season, “It’s not about one of us, it’s about all of us.” A sectional title has always been the goal.

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.