By MICHAEL KELLY
Recorder Sports Staff
ALBANY -- Receiving the pass from Billy Carr at the 3-point line of the Bishop Maginn Golden Griffins with 20 seconds to play and a defender at his back, Amsterdam's Luis Laboy whipped the basketball backwards over his head.
Waiting was Robbie Sherlock, who snatched the perfect pass out of the air and dropped it in for the final Running Rams basket of Amsterdam's scintillating 71-66 Big 10 boys basketball victory Friday night.
"That was a great play, a great play just to even know I was there," said Sherlock. "I was glad I was in the right place at the right time, but Luis just made a great pass."
"When Billy passed me the ball, I saw Robbie out of the side of my eye," said Laboy. "So, I knew he was there for me to throw it back to."
The flashy play was the perfect ending for the Rams' (2-4, 2-4) best game of the season. While Amsterdam languished through the first half and was outscored in the final quarter, the Rams' third quarter was the best eight minutes of basketball the team has played this season.
In the third quarter, Amsterdam scored 28 points, six more than it had scored in the first half. The output was the Rams' most in a single quarter this season, as the team's previous best tally was a 20-point quarter against Albany.
Amsterdam head coach Tony Orapello said his halftime message to his team -- which trailed Bishop Maginn (2-4, 2-4) by five points at the half -- was a simple one.
"I went in there and basically talked about being confident and hustling," he said. "I told them, 'Clearly, we're the better team and we need to play like it.'"
The Rams did just that, as Amsterdam quickly tightened the score before trading baskets for a while with the Griffins. Then, after a Bishop Maginn basket put the score at 40-38 with the Rams on top, Amsterdam took over.
After a Zach Dufel made free throw, Laboy converted a three-point play; next, Sherlock connected on a pair of free throws; then, after a Bishop Maginn basket, Laboy hit a short floater; finally, Amsterdam finished off the quarter with an out-of-bounds play that resulted in a Sherlock layup at the buzzer, giving the Rams a 10-point lead.
"We got a little tired, we missed a couple rebounds and they got some offensive rebounds that led to extra possessions and baskets, so they were able to get some separation," said Bishop Maginn head coach Rich Gilooly. "But credit Amsterdam -- they made the baskets."
In the third quarter, Laboy led the way with 10 of his game-high 24 points. Also in that stanza, Dufel had seven of his 13 points and Sherlock had six of his 18 points.
In the decisive quarter, Amsterdam outscored Bishop Maginn, 28-13. The Rams made 10 of 16 field goals -- including shooting 4 of 8 from behind the 3-point line -- in the third stanza, as well as 4 of 6 free throws.
"They came out and they were confident," said Orapello. "My guys were confident."
"We were just clicking," said Sherlock. "There's nothing more to say. ... We were just playing our game and we kept going."
While it was the team's underclassmen that carried Amsterdam to its first win, Friday belonged to the seniors. Every point in Amsterdam's big third quarter was scored by a senior.
"The seniors, we've been playing together for a very long time," said senior John Hardies. "We have good chemistry."
For Bishop Maginn, Demere Hannah had 21 points, while JaQuan Jones had 18 points and 10 rebounds. Sherlock led Amsterdam in rebounding, grabbing nine boards.
The trick now for the Rams is to capitalize on its present momentum. After a 0-3 start to the season in which the team lost its games by a combined 88 points, the Rams went 2-1 in their next three games and head to Gloversville next week for a holiday tournament that features two very winnable games.
"But we're still in the growth stage," cautioned Hardies, who played the entire second half, as did Laboy and Sherlock.
"We need to catapult off of this and keep growing," Hardies finished.
That is the Rams' plan and if the team can bottle up and reapply the intensity it showed in Friday's third quarter, Amsterdam could be a dangerous team in the Big 10 in 2013.
"We have so much confidence right now -- so much confidence," said Laboy. "We're together now as a team and we're getting wins."