By ADAM SHINDER
Recorder Sports Staff
TOWN OF AMSTERDAM -- One bad minute sent everything spiraling downhill for the Amsterdam High School girls basketball team.
Through the first 15 minutes Friday evening against Bishop Maginn, the Lady Rams had cruised to an 11-point lead with an efficient, motion-heavy offense and an aggressive, trapping defense. Then, in the last 60 seconds before heading to the locker room for halftime, the wheels started to come off.
Rushed shots on offense and a couple of missteps on defense allowed the Lady Griffins to reel off six straight points before, with the clock expiring, Courtney Lane banked in a lunging 3-pointer to cut what had been a double-digit lead just moments before to two points at intermission.
Coming out of the locker room, Bishop Maginn seized control and Amsterdam never found its footing again, falling 53-45 in a result that left Amsterdam head coach Eric Duemler frustrated with how quickly a game his team had completely controlled through the early stages slipped away.
"Next thing you know, they go on a run and we have some mental breakdowns and lapses defensively. Instead of being up 13 or more, we're up two," Duemler said. "Instead of having Bishop Maginn in a position where they're not gonna come out with as much energy in the third quarter, they come out ready to fight and feel like they're in it because we let them in it. Unacceptable for an experienced team to have that happen -- I hope we can learn from it."
Shiann Coons scored 14 of her game-high 22 points after halftime for Bishop Maginn as the Griffins outscored Amsterdam (2-4, 1-3 Big 10) 41-22 over the game's final 17 minutes. Lane chipped in 16 points, and it was her desperation heave at the end of the half that Maginn head coach Julie Reilly acknowledged as her team's turning point.
"That last minute, that's (nine) points in a matter of seconds," Reilly said. "Instead of a 10-point lead, now you're within two."
Kelly Paris scored 12 points and Cristiana Johnson added 10 for Amsterdam, but after the Lady Rams attacked Bishop Maginn early with quick cuts and drives to the basket, those lanes shut down in the second half and AHS was never able to adjust offensively.
Bishop Maginn took its first lead of the game at 29-27 on a pair of free throws from Lane three minutes into the second half, and after a few back-and-forth minutes, Lane buried a 3-pointer late in the third quarter that put the Griffins up 34-31. That was as close as Amsterdam would get the rest of the contest.
"We had a good gameplan going in, and I'd say that for the majority of the first half we executed it and took them out of some things they wanted to do," Duemler said. "We didn't have the energy in the second half after we gave up that big of a lead."
Though the Lady Rams had several chances to cut into the lead in the fourth quarter, Bishop Maginn continually edged away -- thanks heavily to a major advantage at the free throw line, where the Griffins finished 13-of-15 as opposed to Amsterdam's 7-of-13 effort. That's been a frustrating trend all season for Duemler, who has watched his team shoot just 55.1 percent from the charity stripe through six games.
"They made foul shots and we didn't. That's the story of the season," he said.
Duemler admitted Friday's loss was a "tough one to swallow," considering how well the Lady Rams played in opening up their double-digit lead in the first half. He said the team now must refocus over the weekend to get ready to take both Kingston and Geneva as Amsterdam hosts the Manor Glass Holiday Showcase on Thursday and Friday.
"We've got Kingston and Geneva in the tournament. There should be a ton of college coaches here -- we've got eight undefeated teams in our showcase, a lot of great players and a lot of great teams," Duemler said. "Hopefully, we can forget this by midnight and go back to work on Sunday."