Dave Wojeski / For The Recorder Amsterdam fans cheer on their team during Thursday's Section II semifinal game against Scotia-Glenville at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
By MICHAEL KELLY
GLENS FALLS -- Minutes after suffering a blowout loss in his final basketball game as a member of the Amsterdam High School Running Rams, senior guard Alonzo Martin had this to say about his team getting the chance Thursday to play at the Glens Falls Civic Center in the Section II Class A semifinals.
"Today was awesome," he said. "Being able to play at Hudson Valley Sunday and win, and then getting to play here, it was awesome."
While the Rams were no match for the Scotia-Glenville Tartans in a 71-45 decision, the club's players left GFCC with mostly dry eyes. The final game did not go as they had hoped, but the Rams could take solace in winning five of their last seven games and earning a trip to the semifinals for the first time since 2005 for the program.
"We've never been here," said AHS head coach Tony Orapello. "This is a big move for us, a big step forward."
While the club relied on its juniors and sophomores for lots of minutes and production, Orapello said the club's five seniors -- Martin, guards Andrew Rouse and Keny Ribot-Diaz, and forwards Eric Robertshaw and Juell Springs -- were at the heart of this year's Rams.
"The seniors did a great job," said Orapello. "I'll never forget them because they helped us get back here."
Though his final game did not go the way he had hoped, Rouse -- who made a last-second, game-tying 3-pointer in the team's quarterfinal win -- said the past week had been a great experience.
"We won at Hudson Valley and got to Glens Falls," said Rouse. "It's huge that Amsterdam got back here. Now, we need to keep pushing."
The final week of action left Martin with only one regret.
"I just wish I had one more season," he said.
CREMO OF THE CROP
Going against one of the top players in Section II, the Rams did one of the more respectable jobs this season against S-G junior forward Joe Cremo.
The junior scored a game-high 21 points on 7-of-13 shooting, but the AHS defenders made Cremo work hard for his points. In something of a surprise, Amsterdam abandoned its customary 1-3-1 zone defense for the entirety of the game to match up man to man with the Tartans.
Rams sophomore guard Bryan Stanavich -- giving up several inches to Cremo -- drew the assignment of defending the Tartans' top player. Stanavich fouled out early in the fourth quarter, but was a constant pest to Cremo; the Tartans junior committed two offensive fouls when Stanavich defended him, and he shot 3 of 8 when the sophomore defended him.
Cremo sat out most of the game's third quarter because of foul trouble. Orapello had wanted his club to try to send Cremo to the bench with fouls, but the Rams were unable to mount a serious run when the junior hit the pine.
"By then, we were down a lot," Orapello said.
Rams junior forward James Valentin -- who also took turns defending Cremo -- said the AHS players knew they were going to have their hands full with Cremo. At times, the Tartan dominated Thursday's action.
"That's what we expected from him," Valentin said.
SEE YA NEXT YEAR
With the Rams likely to be playing next year in the Foothills Council, AHS and S-G will see each other at least twice next season.
That's something both clubs are looking forward to for next season.
"We'll be ready for them," Orapello said.
S-G head coach James Giammattei said he was excited to get another quality Class A program in his team's league.
"We welcome their level of competition, their toughness," he said. "It's great for our league."
The Foothills Council appears to be very strong for the 2014-15 season. Besides AHS and S-G making it to the Section II Class A semifinals, so did another Foothills Council school: Gloversville.
The Dragons lost to Troy Thursday at the GFCC.
AHS brought a large contingent of student fans to Thursday's game at the GFCC -- and they were a memorable bunch.
Most of the rambunctious collection of more than 100 students were decked out in costumes, ranging from Halloween get-ups to superheroes to -- of course -- a Ram.
Follow MICHAEL KELLY on Twitter at twitter.com/RecorderMK