Amsterdam boys’ basketball outruns Columbia 60-45, advances to Section II Class A semifinals

Basketball with ball goes toward hoop, one defender visible

Amsterdam’s JeShean Vann drives toward the basket against Columbia during the Section II Class A quarterfinals Sunday at UHY Center in Loudonville.

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LOUDONVILLE — Columbia was persistent against Amsterdam in Sunday’s Section II Class A quarterfinal, but that will to compete never turned the tide as the Rams won 60-45.

Amsterdam’s ball pressure proved to be the difference maker for the victors. They forced 15 turnovers. They created five in the first five minutes of the opening quarter, when they held Columbia off the scoreboard until 2:08 of the frame. Then, they forced several more at the end of the third quarter to push their lead from eight to 14 heading to the fourth.

“I felt like we were able to cause a lot of disruption in the backcourt, which I think made them uncomfortable with their sets and getting to their spots,” said Rams head coach Tim Jones. “They’re a very good team about getting to spots and being able to hit shots.”

Neither team shot well from behind the 3-point line, Columbia shot 1 for 12, while Amsterdam shot 1 for 13. The Blue Devils grabbed 18 offensive rebounds but second and third chances rarely turned into points — they shot 29% overall — as Amsterdam showed equal aggression inside on both ends of the floor.

The Rams’ Alec Bartone led his team down low with 16 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks, despite playing a majority of the second half in foul trouble.

He defended well and was often an outlet for two points, finding pockets of space in the defense and remaining ready to execute shots.

“He did a great job all year of doing that,” Jones said. “I just thought the guys found him in a lot of different spots, but [also] gave him the ball in places where he could actually do something with the ball. Sometimes, that’s not always the case.…They gave him a good opportunity to be successful.”

Evan Rainville was Columbia’s most consistent scoring option throughout the contest, finishing with 25 points and eight rebounds. When the Rams turned up the pressure in the backcourt again down the stretch, the Blue Devils’ scoring came almost solely from the sophomore.

Amsterdam’s Ceasar Thompson began to turn defense into offense regularly to lead the resurgence, scoring eight of his 15 in the second half.

“A lot of it was just stopping them and keeping them to the perimeter because once they get in it’s a little harder to defend,” Bartone said. “But, we were really trying to focus on getting the rebounds towards the end and really just keeping the ball out of their hands.”

The Rams continued to retrieve the ball and reached the double bonus, which meant more and more trips to the line. Amsterdam knocked down 7 of 10 free throws in the fourth quarter, including 5 of 6 from Jhai Vellon, to close out the game.

Jones thought his team’s defensive prowess in the second half was key to its success.

“I think it was crucial,” he said. “They were comfortable, and you could tell when they get comfortable they can shoot it. So, by being able to disrupt that, that led to some opportunities for us.”

Amsterdam advances to the Class A semifinals Wednesday at the Cool Insuring Arena in Glens Falls. The Rams will face Lansingburgh at 6:30 p.m.

Columbia 8 12 11 14 — 45

Amsterdam 15 15 15 15 — 60

Columbia scoring: Walters 5-2-12, Rainville 9-6-25, Fisher-Layton 2-0-4, Thorpe 0-2-2, Blake 1-0-2. Amsterdam scoring: Vann 5-4-14, Dueno 1-0-2, Thompson 7-0-15, Vellon 4-5-13, Bartone 8-0-16. Totals: Columbia 17-10-45. Amsterdam 25-9-60.

By Andrew Pugliese

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