Amsterdam’s Nina Fedullo (11) and Lansingburgh’s Britney Dolan (32) contest the opening tip-off of a Section II Class A girls basketball quarterfinal game Thursday, Feb. 23 at Amsterdam High School. (Adam Shinder/Recorder staff)
By ADAM SHINDER
TOWN OF AMSTERDAM — On a night where the shots weren’t falling, the Amsterdam Lady Rams did everything else to make sure their run in the Section II Class A girls basketball tournament wouldn’t end in one-and-done disappointment.
Despite going through long stretches of offensive struggles, second-seeded Amsterdam dominated the offensive glass and used an added wrinkle on defense to keep No. 7 seed Lansingburgh away as Giuliana Pritchard finished with 22 points and nine rebounds and Nina Fedullo posted 19 points, 12 boards and eight steals Thursday in the Lady Rams’ 61-46 quarterfinal win Thursday at Amsterdam High School.
“We didn’t shoot well, but we played super-hard,” Amsterdam coach Eric Duemler said. “We played pretty good defense, we dominated the boards. High school kids are gonna miss layups sometime, they’re gonna miss foul shots. We still scored in the 60s missing layups and foul shots.”
With the win, Amsterdam (17-4) advances to Tuesday’s semifinals at Colonie High School, where the Lady Rams will meet a sixth-seeded Queensbury team that pulled off a 59-56 upset of No. 3 seed Mohonasen in the first game of Thursday’s doubleheader at AHS.
Though Lansingburgh’s tenacious full-court defense forced Amsterdam into stretches of sloppy play, the Lady Rams took the lead for good when Fedullo made it 24-23 with 2:01 left in the second quarter. Amsterdam pushed the lead to double digits early in the third quarter and never let the Lady Knights get closer than four points the rest of the night.
“We definitely worked hard. Shots weren’t falling, so we had to find another way to make baskets,” Fedullo said.
Pritchard and Fedullo did the bulk of the scoring, but senior Grace Catena — who got the start ahead of sophomore Elena Fedullo in anticipation of Lansingburgh’s tough man-to-man defense — made a major contribution by scoring all 10 of her points in the second half.
“Grace works very hard down low,” Nina Fedullo said. “We all do. We work hard, share the ball. We played very well as a team tonight.”
Nylasia Sutton, coming off a 27-point performance on eight 3-pointers in Lansingburgh’s first-round win over South Glens Falls, scored 15 points Thursday before becoming one of three Knights (10-12) to foul out in the fourth quarter.
Cassandra Bessette added 10 points for Lansingburgh, but Amsterdam broke out a new defensive look — a 1-2-2 half-court trap with Nina Fedullo using her considerable wingspan to wreak havoc at the top of the key — that constantly keep the Knights’ backcourt off-balance.
“We’ve been saving that (defense) for sectionals,” Duemler said. “They’re guards are good, but they’re small, so we wanted to take them out of their rhythm.”
Amsterdam also controlled the glass, grabbing 44 rebounds — including 18 on the offensive end. Those offensive boards and putback opportunities were a major reason the Lady Rams were able to overcome a night where they knocked down just two shots from 3-point range.
“Once our shots weren’t falling, the fact that we didn’t give up and worked harder on the rebounds, driving, putbacks, that says a lot about us,” Pritchard said.
Now, the Lady Rams will prepare for Tuesday’s semifinal against Queensbury, with the winner advancing to the championship game against the winner of the other semi between Averill Park and Gloversville.
Amsterdam is hopeful of a second straight trip to the sectional final, but is wary of a young and improving Queensbury team that knocked off Mohonasen on Meghan O’Connor’s 3-pointer with five seconds left in regulation. The Lady Rams beat the Spartans 63-34 when the two teams met Dec. 19 at AHS.
“They definitely look better now than they did at the beginning of the season,” Pritchard said. “We can’t take any team lightly.”
Contact ADAM SHINDER at [email protected]