Following the Amsterdam Lady Rams sectional title game against Averill Park on Sunday, Section 2 athletics announced its 2018 Class A All-Tournament Team. The six student athletes selected represented five grade levels. Among them were seniors Giuliana Pritchard of Amsterdam, and Stephanie Jankovic of Averill Park, and junior Harmony Philo of Gloversville. All three have scored more than 1,000 points during outstanding careers on the hard court. The other three were all underclassmen including Academy of Holy Names sophomore Grace Field, Amsterdam freshman Jackie Stanavich, and Averill Park eighth grader Amelia Wood, each one making their first all-tournament team. Stanavich was one of three freshman on the Amsterdam roster to play the entire season at the varsity level, and along with Antonia May a starter in every game during the twenty win 2017-2018 campaign for he Lady Rams. Stanavich, May, and Charli Beekman made great strides in their first year at the varsity level, and made significant contributions to the success of the Lady Rams basketball program, giving reason for optimism in its future.
“That’s a good start for our younger kids,” Amsterdam coach Eric Duemler said after the Class A title game. “They are talented and they contributed. I don’t think they knew how big a game it was.”
The Lady Rams freshmen played in several big games during the Lady Rams ten game win streak leading up to Sunday’s championship game. Both Stanavich and May scored 14 points apiece in Amsterdam’s semi-final win against Holy Names last Tuesday, stepping up when the team needed them to provide offense as Holy Names focused on stopping leading scorer Giuliana Pritchard. Stanavich started all season at forward while May started, and Beekman came off the bench as guards. All three gained valuable experience playing alongside seniors Pritchard, Lucia Liverio, Gianna DeRosa, and Taylor Flint, and juniors Elena Fedullo, Madison Carmona, and Kim Lopez. The trio each came from different basketball backgrounds. May had already played in three varsity games after getting called up from the junior varsity team in the final weeks of the 2016-2017 season and benefited from playing with AHS standouts Nina Fedullo, Maria Lomanto, Brady Santiago, and Grace Catena. Beekman made the jump up from the AHS modified level to varsity this year, and Stanavich came from a modified level program at St. Mary’s Institute. Each came with the willingness to learn.
“I loved playing with them,” Pritchard said. “I’ve never looked at them as freshman. Jackie, Toni, and Charli proved they could play at the varsity level. I hope that they picked up a thing or two from us seniors when one day they’re playing in another game like this.”
Stanavich proved to be the perfect compliment to a front court that included Pritchard and Elena Fedullo, scoring over 270 points this season and was second on the team in that category behind only Pritchard, who put up a school record 542 points this season. May scored over 150 points with the majority coming from long range as she led the Lady Rams with 34 three point field goals. Beekman scored more than 60 points coming off the bench, and helped the team with her quickness and ability to score when the team ran in transition. She also participated in two varsity sports this winter, and arrived to hugs from her teammates, only minutes before the Lady Rams basketball team took the court. Beekman already had a work out that morning running in the 55 meter dash for the Amsterdam indoor track and field team at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) Indoor Track Championship’s at Staten Island’s Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex. The young Lady Rams also gained an understanding of the teams’ defensive concepts and made Amsterdam’s ‘one-three-one’ zone defense very effective.
The AHS freshmen had good role models to follow. May had the privilege of playing in the back court with her aunt Lucia Liverio, and with each passing game showed the same energy and skill development that Liverio showed since taking over the point guard position as a sophomore three years ago. Both May and Beekman learned from Liverio, who played three years on varsity and all three resulted in appearances in the Class A final.
“It means a lot,” Liverio said on playing with May after Amsterdam’s senior night game. “I grew up wanting to play on the same team as her. She’s one of my best friends.”
Stanavich meanwhile found a mentor in Pritchard beginning in the summer with the Amsterdam Xplosion AAU team, and as the high school season progressed continued to show similarities in the abilities of her senior teammate, who began her varsity career as an eighth grader.
“Definitely,” Stanavich said after the win against Holy Names when asked about comparing her game to Pritchard’s. “She’s a second coach. We connected from the start playing in the summer league, and learned passing the ball to each other. We learned how to win together.”
The Lady Rams season came to an end in Sunday’s loss to Averill Park, their third in as many tries. But, out of it came a renewed energy for the next Lady Rams team to take it a step further.
“It’s tough when you have to play Averill Park,” Coach Duemler said. “I said to the girls that we’ll just keep getting better in the off-season. They said to me ‘what off-season’? They were ready to go now.”
The goal of winning the school’s first girls sports team sectional title that began with the never wavering efforts of the last three Lady Rams basketball teams is now firmly embedded in the hearts and minds of the next generation. Joining the returning varsity members for next season will be several call ups from a junior varsity squad that finished 17-1 this season and earned a share of the Foothills Council JV title. That group includes sophomores Kayli Hoefs, Grace Patrei, and Francesca DeRosa, freshmen Andie Gannon, and Mianna Jackson, and eighth grader Sydney Hoefs, all were on the Lady Rams bench for Sunday’s game.
“Our kids care,” Coach Duemler said. “They want to represent their school and community. We want to hold up that first place plaque and won’t stop until we get one.”
A few years from now players like Stanavich, May, and Beekman could be leading a Lady Rams team on the court in yet another sectional title game. Should they achieve success in bringing home that first place plaque, it will be a journey that began Sunday when the four seniors passed the torch to their younger teammates.
“Jackie (Stanavich) promised we will get one before she’s done,” Coach Duemler said. “She has three more years.”
With younger student athletes getting valuable experience playing alongside seniors with a strong teamwork ethic, it has allowed Amsterdam to keep pace with perennial champions like Averill Park. The potential for Stanavich, May, Beekman, and their teammates to stand alongside outstanding athletes from other schools remains strong, as does the possibility of a long awaited sectional championship.