By MICHAEL KELLY
Recorder Sports Staff
TOWN OF AMSTERDAM -- Things get a bit easier tonight for the Amsterdam Running Rams.
Then, they will get a lot tougher.
Coming off their opening night loss this past Friday to LaSalle Institute, the Rams head to Catholic Central tonight for another Big 10 matchup. The Rams and the Crusaders split their two meetings from a year ago, with Amsterdam losing by six points on the road before recovering to win by three at home.
While Amsterdam was busy losing 68-44 this past Friday, the Crusaders were dealt a 90-51 loss against CBA. In that contest, Catholic Central's Anthony Mack scored a team-high 17 points, while Brian Brooks scored 14.
After tonight's game in Troy, the Rams continue their stretch of playing the Big 10's private schools, as Amsterdam will play host Friday night to CBA. The Brothers -- who have won seven of the last 10 Section II Class AA titles, including the most recent four championships -- breezed their way to an opening night victory on the strength of a 35-point second quarter.
Daniel Owens scored 18 points, Greg Stire had 17 and Tyrell Ramsey added 14 for the Brothers in that game, as CBA led by 32 points at halftime.
Last season, CBA swept Amsterdam, winning the teams' pair of games by a combined 78 points.
While the Rams' first result of the season was a disappointing one, the undersized Amsterdam cagers did manage to -- somehow -- outrebound the Cadets. Head coach Tony Orapello's squad collected 45 rebounds to the Cadets' 43, as Amsterdam outboarded LaSalle in the second half by six.
In general, the main positive coming out of Friday night's loss was that the Rams' lack of size did not seem to have too much of a direct affect on the game's outcome. Playing against a front line that included two players standing 6-feet-7-inches tall, Amsterdam's pressure zone defense only gave up a few baskets in the post.
Perhaps most surprising, though, was how the Rams attacked the Cadets on the offensive backboard. Amsterdam collected 22 of the 50 rebounds available on its offensive end of the court, or 44 percent; meanwhile, LaSalle grabbed 10 of the 33 rebounds available on their offensive end, or 30 percent.
The Rams' Billy Carr -- the team's starting point guard -- led the club with eight rebounds. Meanwhile, junior Juell Spring had five rebounds in eight minutes of action, while freshman Bryan Stanavich had four rebounds in the same number of minutes played.
So, what went wrong?
It was turnovers and 3-point shooting that did the Rams in, as Amsterdam missed 27 of the 31 3-point shots it attempted and turned the ball over 17 times.
In an opening night game, the Rams probably could have lived with that number of turnovers, but not coupled with the horrendous shooting from deep. If Amsterdam had shot a normal percentage from deep for a high school team -- roughly 30 percent -- the Rams would have made about 10 3-pointers, theoretically cutting 18 points from their 24-point margin of defeat.
The encouraging thing for Amsterdam was that the 3-point shots were mostly good ones, as the team's ball movement got better in the second half against LaSalle's zone defense, creating open looks for the Rams.