By MICHAEL KELLY
Recorder Sports Staff
TOWN OF AMSTERDAM -- In a little more than 10 days, Amsterdam High School will play host to the Big 10-Suburban Council Exceptional Seniors boys and girls basketball games.
Thursday afternoon, Amsterdam boys basketball head coach Tony Orapello was excited to spill the news.
"This is a chance for us to do something we've never done before," said Orapello. "This is a big thing for us."
The pair of games will take place March 12, with the boys' game following the girls' game, which will start at 6 p.m.
"It's exciting. I'm glad that the powers-that-be decided that Amsterdam should host," said AHS girls head coach Eric Duemler. "We've got great locker rooms and facilities, plenty of seating and parking, so we should be able to host this every few years."
But as far as either Duemler or Orapello could remember, this was the first time Amsterdam had received the chance to play host to the game.
AHS athletic director Randy Hutto said the district welcomed the opportunity.
"This is one of those things that gives us an opportunity to show off the school and our facilities," said Hutto. "It also gives us an opportunity to showcase some of these kids who've done great things this year in the Big 10 and the Suburban Council. Having that level of skill here makes it a very exciting game -- and we're hoping people will come out to support it."
Local fans will have at least three players to root for in the games. Amsterdam's Luis Laboy will play for the Big 10 boys, while Cristiana Johnson and Ashlee McDonald will suit up for the girls. It is possible more Amsterdam seniors could make their way onto the rosters before the games, as some players will drop out if their respective teams are still alive in the state tournaments.
Orapello said bringing the game to AHS could help both of the school's basketball programs moving forward.
"It's a great asset for basketball here, to bring this game here and let our local people see it," said Orapello. "I don't think people always understand how good the Big 10 and the Suburban Council are. It's the best talent around."
While the full roster was only available at press time for the Big 10 boys, the talent level Orapello alluded to was on full display with that group of players.
"People that love basketball should come and watch this game," said Orapello. "This lineup is going to be awesome; the Big 10 has a lineup that is unbelievable this year."
Besides Amsterdam's Laboy, the Big 10 roster includes four players 6-foot-5 or taller -- Bishop Maginn's Derrick Thomas, Schenectady's Darius Macon, and Troy's Jerrell Reid and Javion Ogunyemi -- plus high-scoring guards like Bishop Maginn's Demere Hannah, La Salle Institute's Ralph Erickson and Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons' Dwayne Freeman.
"I told Luis: You better make sure you get them the ball," Orapello said, laughing.
Big 10 boys representative Paul Reinisch, the athletic director at Troy, could not be reached for comment Thursday night, nor could Jim Obermayer, a Suburban Council representative from Columbia.