Things are looking up for the Amsterdam varsity boys basketball team. After losing their season opener against Gloversville, the Running Rams have won five of their last six Foothills Council games, including a hard-fought 46-43 victory at Scotia-Glenville on Friday, December 21.
“It’s a big win for us,” said senior guard Jeffrey Brennan, who sank the game-clinching free throws with 13.9 seconds left in the fourth quarter. “The Foothills is up for grabs. To beat a team on the road is important to us.”
Having Tristan Green back in the lineup has only boosted Amsterdam’s level of play. After sitting out the first five games for what head coach Tim Jones said was “an internal matter,” Green netted a team-high 19 points in a 58-49 victory over Hudson Falls Tuesday, Decenber 18 and followed it up with a 10-point performance against Scotia-Glenville Friday that also included forcing several Tartan turnovers at the defensive end.
“It’s really important because even if you don’t [have] offense, you still have to work hard every play,” said Green.
Friday’s game was rough around the edges for Amsterdam (5-2). The Running Rams had a difficult time making shots against Scotia-Glenville’s 3-2 zone defense, and two players – Green and Kevin Perez – got into foul trouble in the second half.
The one thing that saved Amsterdam was its defense. The Running Rams employed a high-energy full-court press that created havoc for Scotia-Glenville’s ball handlers. Even when the Tartans got the ball across the half-court line, they couldn’t create high-quality shots. On three occasions, Amsterdam forced Scotia-Glenville into shot clock violations – twice in the fourth quarter.
“I thought defensively, we were swarming [the ball],” said Jones. “Our kids coming off the bench did a great job, too.”
The difference in the game was that Amsterdam’s offense worked when it needed to the most. When Scotia-Glenville built a 23-11 lead in the second quarter, junior guard Damian Colon came off the bench and scored 10 points to pull the Running Rams within striking distance. Then, Amsterdam opened the third quarter on an 11-0 run to pull ahead 33-27.
“We’ve struggled with playing well coming out of the locker room at halftime,” said Jones. “[Tonight], we were able to do some things collectively.”
Scotia-Glenville (3-4) rallied to take a 39-37 lead on Maurice Dupree’s buzzer-beating three-pointer at the end of the third quarter, but Green made a pair of baskets to open the fourth quarter and then followed a missed Amsterdam free throw with a lay-up to give the Running Rams a 44-39 advantage.
Once again, Scotia-Glenville pieced together a rally to trim Amsterdam’s lead to a single point, but the Running Rams made several key defensive stops down the stretch to maintain their slim advantage. Brennan then sealed the victory by making both ends of a one-and-one.
“My first thought was, ‘Uh-oh, please don’t miss,’” said Brennan, recalling his time at the free-throw line, “but I was able to step up, clear my head and make both of them.”
Amsterdam is off until Thursday, December 27, when it faces Christian Brothers Academy in Colonie in the first half of a home-and-home series. The back-end of the series will be played Saturday, December 29, at Amsterdam.