TROY – The Amsterdam Lady Rams bid for their first sectional championship came up jut short Saturday at Hudson Valley Community College.
Facing two-time defending Class A champion and top-seeded Averill Park, Amsterdam gave the Lady Warriors a battle and gave themselves a chance to win the game late in the fourth quarter.
The Lady Rams held a 61-59 lead over Averill Park with just under three minutes to play before the Lady Warriors went on a 7-0 run to grab a 66-61 advantage.
Amsterdam wasn’t finished as Nina Fedullo connected with 38.7 seconds left to play to put the score at 66-63 and the Lady Rams got a golden opportunity when Averill Park turned the ball over with 35 seconds left.
The Lady Rams set up a play to tie the game and got to ball into the hands of Brady Santiago. The Averill Park defense collapsed around her as she put up a 3-point attempt that just missed. The Lady Warriors’ Samantha Laranjo got the rebound and quickly fired a outlet pass that wound up in the hands of Olivia Kelley to finish and lock up the 68-65 Averill Park victory.
“Brady is a great shooter. She is fearless and took the shot,” Amsterdam coach Eric Duemler said. “We probably could have gotten her a better look with a little more motion. We tried to get the foul but just couldn’t get it. It was a battle just to get here and face a tough Averill Park team. Their point guard [Laranjo] was phenomenal like we thought she would be. We geared up to stop her and she still hurt us.”
Second-seeded Amsterdam (17-6) got off to a slow start, going almost halfway through the opening quarter without putting a point on the board, but held Averill Park to a field goal and two free throws.
Then the Lady Rams got moving.
Giuliana Pritchard jump-started the Amsterdam offense with a put back and Fedullo followed with a driving basket.
Amsterdam kept rolling with Lucia Liverio hitting for five points in a 9-6 run late in the period to give Amsterdam a 13-12 lead at the end of the first eight minutes of play.
The Lady Rams kept the momentum going in the second quarter. Despite having Fedullo, their leading scorer, sit down midway through the quarter with three fouls, Amsterdam matched Averill Park’s intensity and with the help of a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Liverio, carried a 31-29 lead into the locker room at the break.
The Lady Warriors tied the game at 31 in the opening minute of the third quarter, however, Amsterdam responded with a 7-2 that included a 3-pointer from Santiago, to grab a 38-33 advantage.
Averill Park responded with eight unanswered points to take a 41-38 lead before Pritchard hit for a free throw and a basket to tie the game at 41 with 2:48 left in the third quarter.
Stephanie Jankovic and Mallory Wood traded baskets with the Lady Rams Autumn Duemler and Fedullo to tie the game at 46 before Jankovic and Kelsey Wood closed out the quarter with a pair of field goals in the final 30 seconds to give Averill Park a 50-46 lead heading into the final eight minutes of play.
The Lady Warriors built the lead to seven points, 54-47 before Amsterdam roared bay with Fedullo hitting for six points in a 10-4 run to close the gap to 58-57.
Kelsey Wood converted one of two free throws for Averill Park before Pritchard finished off a pass from Kaitlyn Devine to tie the game at 59 with 3:17 remaining.
Fedullo grabbed a defensive rebound and found Devine open with a long pass, which she laid in for a 61-59 lead before Laranjo responded with a field goal to tie the game at 61 apiece with 2:20 left on the clock.
Averill Park picked up its defensive pressure and forced the Lady Rams to turn the ball over but they could not capitalize on the turn overs until Kelsey Wood converted a pair of free throws and Jankovic finished off a steal with a layup for a 65-61 advantage with 59 seconds left on the clock.
Wood added another free throw to push the score to 66-61 before Fedullo hit a field goal to set up the dramatic finish.
“We had our opportunities,” coach Duemler said. “The girls played extremely hard and I can’t be more proud of their effort. Not only today but leading up to today; they left it all on the court. We had it tied and had a couple of good looks but didn’t get it to fall.”
Laranjo led Averill Park (15-8) with 18 points, while Kelsey Wood finished with 16 and Mallory Wood had 10.
Fedullo paced the Lady Rams with 18 points, while Pritchard had 13 and Liverio chipped in with 12.
“[Liverio] didn’t look like a 10th-grader tonight. Maybe that is a good sign of things to come for her,” Coach Duemler said. “Lucia and Katie [Devine] gave us a good two-headed monster tonight. We had a little bit of foul trouble. We only got to the line eight times tonight and we usually get there over 20 so that hurt us. We were still right there with under a minute to play with a chance to take the lead. It was right there for us. The girls have earned everything they achieved this year.”
Amsterdam will lose six seniors to graduation, Braelin Aldi, Devine, Duemler, Gabby Catena, Rayven Roach and Jailene Irizarry, but will return a solid core of players next season.
“This was a great experience,” Coach Duemler said “We are going to miss our six seniors but they will always be a part of our program and our family. We hope to be back here next year with a better outcome.”
Fedullo and Pritchard were selected to the Class A all-tournament team along with Troy’s Sabrina Wolfe, Hudson Falls’ Bri McKinney and Averill Park’s Jankovic. The Lady Warriors’ Laranjo was named tournament MVP.
Averill Park 68, Amsterdam 63
Amsterdam13 18 15 17 – 63
Averill Park12 17 21 18 – 68
Pritchard 6-1-13, Fedullo 8-1-18, Duemler 3-0-6, Liverio 5-1-12, Santiago 2-0-6, Devine 4-0-8. Totals: 28-3-63.
Laranjo 8-1-18, M. Wood 3-4-10, Stackrow 4-0-9, K. Wood 6-4-16, Kelley 2-2-6, Jankovic 4-0-9. Totals: 27-11-68.
3-point goals: Amsterdam 4 (Santiago 2, Fedullo, Liverio); Averill Park 3 (Laranjo, Stackrow, Jankovic).