By MICHAEL KELLY
Recorder Sports Staff
TOWN OF AMSTERDAM -- After watching 32 minutes of lifeless action from his club Tuesday night, Amsterdam Running Rams head coach Tony Orapello was subdued in the delivery of his post-game assessment -- but his words packed some punch.
"We didn't play very well, did we?" he started. "We had no emotion. No spirit. No hustle. It was like we were just going through the motions out there.
"We did not play with heart today," he added. "We didn't play hard."
Meanwhile, the Rams' Big 10 opponent showed up ready to avenge a loss from earlier this season, as Bishop Maginn received stand-out games from seniors Demere Hannah and Derrick Thomas in the Golden Griffins' 56-40 victory at Amsterdam High School.
The Rams' white knight from Tuesday? Non-existent, as no player scored in double figures in a game in which Amsterdam made only 14 of 71 field goals.
"I didn't see anything, anywhere," said Orapello. "We didn't get a spark at all."
The Griffins' (8-8, 7-7) energy came from Thomas. The 6-foot-5 senior was a menace in the paint, scoring 11 points, grabbing eight rebounds and blocking six shots.
"He's a phenomenal athlete," said Bishop Maginn head coach Rich Gilooly. "When he's in ... he can change the complexion of the game."
That was evident early, as half of Thomas' blocks came in the first four minutes of action. The overpowering start from Thomas -- who missed the first game between these two teams this season, a 71-66 Amsterdam win -- knocked the Rams (4-12, 3-11) back on their heels.
"He altered every shot that was in the paint," said AHS senior Robbie Sherlock. "He was on his game."
Thomas helped the Griffins jump out to an early advantage, but it was not until the end of the second quarter that the visitors created sizable separation for themselves. After a pair of made free throws from sophomore Marcus Pritchard brought the Rams to within six points on the scoreboard, Bishop Maginn ended the first half with a 10-0 run. Amsterdam never challenged in the second half, never drawing closer than a dozen points in the final 16 minutes of action.
"We didn't respond to their run," said Sherlock, who had eight points and eight rebounds. "Sometimes, we've been able to do that -- the other team will make a run, then we'll make a run -- but we didn't do that tonight."
Hannah was critical for the Griffins in the run to end the first half, as the senior had the first five points of the stretch. For the game, Hannah had 24 points, many of which seemed to come in spurts whenever Amsterdam put together any type of run.
"He is one of those players that his game gets better when the situations get more difficult," said Gilooly. "He always seems to hit the big shot in a crucial situation."
Meanwhile, the second half was unkind to the Amsterdam offense. With Thomas patrolling the paint, the Griffins' guards in the team's 3-2 zone were able to push out further to disrupt Amsterdam's shooters, like AJ Centi who offered five points on the night.
"When they creep out in the zone like that, it should've opened things up down low," said Centi. "But we just weren't hitting."
Both Centi and Sherlock said that Monday's practice had been a poor one for the team, and it looked Tuesday like Monday's malaise had spilled over into the game.
"We've just got to move on," Sherlock said of the performance.
That was Orapello's sentiment, too. All season, the coach has said that one of his team's better qualities was that it did not let an ugly game get in the way of preparing for its next one. With Friday's game against Big 10 power Troy looming, Orapello said he was hoping that trend continued for his club.
"So, we'll probably come out and play as hard as we can -- with heart -- like we normally do," he said. "I think they'll be ready. I'll make sure they're ready."