By MICHAEL KELLY
TOWN OF AMSTERDAM -- Big 10 boys basketball anarchy reigned Thursday night at Amsterdam High School, where the Running Rams stunned the Troy Flying Horses in overtime.
"We got 'em," Rams head coach Tony Orapello said.
Minutes after his team's 77-76 victory, AHS senior co-captain Andrew Rouse was still trying to wrap his mind around what had just happened.
"Amsterdam beating Troy, you don't hear about that -- but it happened today," he said.
Before AHS (5-9, 4-8) knocked off the Horses, Troy (11-2, 10-2) was riding a seven-game winning streak and was ranked No. 4 in the latest New York State Sportswriters Association poll for Class A teams. A season ago, Troy played in Class AA and was the Section II champion.
Leading the way in the upset was AHS sophomore guard Kory Bergh, who scorched the nets for a game-high 33 points. Bergh -- who had been in a shooting slump for the past few games -- made 8 of 13 3-point shots, converted a desperation trey at the regulation buzzer to send the game into overtime, and sank the game-winning free throw in the extra session.
"I just wanted to keep shooting," said Bergh, who was 10 of 15 from the field and 5 of 6 from the foul line.
Troy head coach Rich Hurley -- who previously coached at Bishop Maginn -- was effusive in his praise for Bergh.
"I've seen a lot of great players -- I've coached a ton of them, seen a ton of them in this awesome league we have, and that was one of the greatest performances I've ever seen," Hurley said of Bergh's night.
To Amsterdam junior forward Marcus Pritchard, Thursday's contest was Bergh's way of announcing himself as one of the Rams' leaders.
"You watched him change during that game," said Pritchard. "He became a new person."
But Bergh had a lot of help. Going against Troy's huge front line, the 6-foot-3-inch Pritchard compiled 10 points and nine rebounds; senior guard Alonzo Martin had 13 points and controlled tempo for the Rams; Rouse made two key late shots in a five-point night; and, sophomore guard Bryan Stanavich had six points, five rebounds and nine assists.
"Their kids wanted it," said Hurley. "They deserved to win. ... Hats off to Amsterdam. They were the better team tonight."
Amsterdam started quick. Trailing 11-9, the Rams put together a 15-3 run to end the first quarter. During that stretch, Bergh made four 3-pointers, and AHS took a 24-14 lead after one stanza.
After a relatively even second quarter sent the Rams into halftime with a nine-point lead, the Horses and star sophomore guard Dyaire Holt came to life in the third stanza. Holt -- who scored 30 points -- had nine points in the third quarter, as Troy took a 53-51 lead into the fourth.
There, the Rams looked ready to wilt. The Horses quickly stretched their lead to five points, forcing a timeout.
Orapello said his message in the huddle was simple.
"We can come back," he said he told his Rams. "Take your time, play good defense and get a good shot."
After trading baskets, Troy led 60-55. Martin made a basket to cut the deficit to three points and Bergh followed with a pair of made free throws on the Rams' next possession. Then, off a nice pass from Stanavich, Rouse drilled a 15-foot jump shot to give the Rams back the lead with a few minutes to play.
"All the sudden, we were right there," Orapello said.
Not discouraged, Troy came back to take a two-point lead in the final minute of regulation. With roughly 10 seconds to play, the ball found its way to Pritchard down low, but the junior's shot was blocked and Troy looked ready to escape with a victory as the Horses' Justice Walston went to the foul line.
That's when things got crazy.
Walston made the first free throw and missed the second, and Pritchard secured the rebound with 6.5 seconds to play. With no timeouts left, the ball found its way to Stanavich, who had his desperation 3-pointer blocked -- but the sophomore was alert enough to help tip the loose ball back to his teammate.
"I got it back and I knew Kory was there, and I threw it back to him," Stanavich said.
Receiving the ball with maybe a second left, Bergh let it fly -- and it swished through the basket, sending the game into overtime.
As AHS rejoiced -- a smattering of the game's crowd rushed the court to join the Rams' celebration -- Hurley tried to tell his team it was still in control.
"The end of the game was crazy," said Hurley. "And I told my kids that (shot) was one out of 100."
In overtime, Holt made a driving layup to put the Horses up 75-71 with two minutes to play. Not to be deterred, Martin rushed down the court and tossed in a wild layup of his own. After an AHS defensive stop, Bergh made his final trey of the night to put the Rams on top, 76-75.
"I don't think we made a mistake in the overtime," Orapello said.
Still, there was drama left to play out. After Troy missed a shot and Bergh made one of two free throws, Holt earned a trip to the line with a chance to tie the score. After making the first shot, he missed the second and the Horses sent Martin to the foul line. The AHS senior missed the front end of a one-and-one, but Troy's desperation heave at the buzzer missed.
The Rams had pulled it off.
"We all believed we could do it -- and this is what happens," said Rouse. "That's all teamwork right there."
AHS had brought a four-game losing streak into the contest and had lost to Troy back in December, 72-44.
But Martin said AHS had never lost faith in itself. After Tuesday's blowout loss -- a 72-48 setback against Catholic Central -- the club had returned to practice Wednesday and done its best to leave the past behind.
"This is what happens; this is the result," said Martin. "The hard works pays off."
NOTES: Bergh played a team-high 35 minutes, while Martin played 34. ... Bergh scored 16 points in the first half, 13 in the second half and four in the overtime session. ... Maurice Watson had 15 points and 12 rebounds for Troy. Walston had 14 points and Zach Radz added 13. ... The Rams received 10 points from its bench. Junior forward James Valentin had four points, while AHS received two points apiece from junior guard Anferny Aponte, and junior forwards Hector Rodriguez and Jemal Robinson.
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