By ADAM SHINDER
TOWN OF AMSTERDAM -- The Amsterdam Lady Rams will take the bumps and bruises from Wednesday night's Section II Class A girls basketball playoff game with the Mohonasen Mighty Warriors.
They'll have to ice them in the coming days, but that'll just be to make sure they're healed up enough to keep their sectional journey going.
There were no style points awarded, but the seventh-seeded Lady Rams muscled their way through a physical Mohonasen team, riding 17 points and 10 rebounds from freshman Nina Fedullo and playing a smothering zone defense to top the 10th-seeded Mighty Warriors, 33-23.
Still, the Lady Rams walked off their home floor for the final time this season with one lasting impression.
"We got beat up out there," said Amsterdam forward Brady Santiago.
Not that it wasn't anything the Lady Rams (10-9) weren't anticipating against a Mohonasen team that went 1-17 during the regular season and averaged just 32.4 points per game playing in the ultra-tough Suburban Council.
Amsterdam battled through the physicality, dominating the rebounding column and limiting Mohonasen leading scorer Saeeda Abdul-Aziz to just seven points before she fouled out early in the fourth quarter. If it weren't for Amsterdam finishing 11 of 29 from the free throw line, Lady Rams coach Eric Duemler said, the result would've been a bit more comfortable.
"Mohonasen doesn't score a lot of points, so they want to make it as ugly as they can and as low scoring as they can," Duemler said. "They did a good job of that, but if we could've made some foul shots, it would've been a little different."
"We got hit a lot," Fedullo added. "We just need to learn how to finish with the contact and knock down foul shots."
Amsterdam trailed just once in the game when Abdul-Aziz hit a short jumper to put Mohonasen up 8-7 early in the second quarter. That lead stood for more than five minutes -- and came during a stretch where the Lady Rams were held without a point for seven-plus minutes -- before an 8-0 run to close the half put Amsterdam up for good.
The Mighty Warriors never got closer than four points in the second half, and while the Lady Rams weren't able to pull away offensively, Mohonasen's offense stagnated for good when Abdul-Aziz fouled out with 6:07 to play.
With Abdul-Aziz out, Maddie Egan became Mohonasen's only true offensive option, and outside of a late 3-pointer, the junior guard couldn't do much without the threat of Abdul-Aziz.
"We really keyed on (Abdul-Aziz and Egan) in our defense," Duemler said. "Our girls did a nice job. They saw them on tape and knew what they had to do. We lost them once or twice, but that's high school basketball."
With Mohonasen struggling to move the ball and put up shots against Amsterdam's 3-2 zone that got remotely near the rim, the onus fell on the Lady Rams to deny second-chance opportunities. The frontcourt trio of Fedullo, Monica Rouse and Giuliana Pritchard responded, combining to collect 27 boards.
"We definitely played our best tonight on defense. It definitely showed, because we got most of the rebounds," Rouse said.
The 23 points were the second-fewest the Lady Rams have allowed this season, which made the team's fourth-worst offensive output of the season a bit easier to swallow.
"We'll definitely take it, no matter what. If we get the win, we get the win," Rouse said. "We also played as a team, and that really shows. If you play as a team, it's gonna work out in the end."
And while Amsterdam's next game is a difficult one -- a road game Saturday night against second-seeded Troy -- the Lady Rams aren't blinking heading into their third meeting this season with the defending New York State Class A champions.
After all, they're still playing.
"We pulled it out in the end," Santiago said. "As long as we're moving on in sectionals, that's all that matters."
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