By ADAM SHINDER
TOWN OF AMSTERDAM -- A day after a heart-pounding overtime victory over Corcoran, the Amsterdam High School girls basketball team was plenty content to deal with a whole lot less drama Saturday in the closing game of the Amsterdam Holiday College Showcase.
The shorthanded Mekeel Christian Academy Lions provided the Lady Rams that very opportunity.
Nina Fedullo scored 19 points in less than 14 minutes of action, six different Amsterdam players scored at least six points and the Lady Rams opened up a 20-point lead by early in the second quarter and led by as many as 43 points in a 65-36 rout.
"We had a good two days," Amsterdam head coach Eric Duemler said. "Getting past Corcoran -- a big, physical, tough team from Syracuse -- was a good win for us, and then following it up and beating Mekeel, who put up almost 60 points yesterday against Johnstown. It was a good defensive effort, and then once we increased the lead, we weren't sloppy. There's lessons learned with how to play with a lead like that."
By the fourth quarter, Amsterdam's starters had long since been relegated to cheering on their teammates from the bench and the only drama left was whether senior guard Gabby Mitchell would score her first career points -- which she did on a short jumper with 38 seconds to play that earned a roar of applause from her teammates.
Prior to that, the Lady Rams (3-4) played smothering defense -- MCA was just 2 of 24 from the field in the first half and 10 of 50 for the game, including 3 of 23 from 3-point range -- in limiting the Lions to just eight points in the first half.
"Coach (Duemler) told us before we went out there to guard the 3-point line and make sure it was one shot and out," junior guard Caitlin Gannon said. "We did good with that."
The Lady Rams sprinted to a 22-4 lead after the first quarter and rode a wave of open layups and easy putbacks on their way to a season-high 65 points -- 17 points better than their previous season high set in Friday's 48-47 overtime win against Corcoran.
"They played good defense, but we just worked the ball around and were able to take those open shots," Gannon said.
In addition to Fedullo, who scored 39 points over the two days of the tournament, Brady Santiago chipped in 10 points, Keely Santiago and Gannon had seven points apiece and both Kaitlyn Devine and Guiliana Pritchard chipped in six points. When Mitchell's short jumper fell in the closing minute, that capped off an effort in which all 10 Amsterdam players in uniform Saturday scored at least two points.
"It was better, because I felt like today we all worked together, the people off the bench came in and we worked as a team still," Keely Santiago said. "Even the people off the bench are still athletic."
The weekend sweep of Corcoran and Mekeel Christian gives the Lady Rams a chance to get back to .500 overall -- and improve to 2-3 in the Big 10 -- when they return to Big 10 play Friday at 6 p.m. with a home game against Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons. After the Lady Rams were put through the wringer with a tough schedule to open the season that included Albany, Catholic Central, Troy, Johnstown and Corcoran, Duemler said that his young team -- which currently features a starting five of an eighth grader, a freshman, two sophomores and a junior -- is starting to build some momentum and confidence.
"We've just got to stay focused and keep getting better," Duemler said. "The next game we play is our most important game, and we just want to keep improving."
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