Amsterdam’s Nina Fedullo (11) drives past Johnstown’s Jordan Rose, right, during a Dec. 15, 2016 game at Johnstown High School. Fedullo is The Recorder’s 2016-17 Girls Basketball Player of the Year, earning the award for a second consecutive season.
By ADAM SHINDER
Another girls basketball season has come and gone, and for the second straight year the Amsterdam Lady Rams dominated the local conversation.
Led by a strong returning group that reached the Section II Class A final in 2016, the Lady Rams stormed through the Foothills Council South Division once again and powered to a pair of sectional playoff wins before running into a tough-to-beat Averill Park team that ended Amsterdam’s season in the sectional title game for a second straight year.
It’s no surprise, then, that the Lady Rams are cleaning up in The Recorder’s 2016-17 All-Area girls basketball honors. Senior Nina Fedullo has earned her second straight Player of the Year award, Eric Duemler has been named Coach of the Year and both junior Giuliana Pritchard and senior Maria Lomanto earned spots on the All-Area Team.
Joining them as All-Area selections are Fonda-Fultonville’s Julianna Taylor, Mayfield’s Sydney Sheldon and Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville’s Merari Freeman.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Nina Fedullo, Sr., Amsterdam — How good was Fedullo’s career at Amsterdam?
Let’s put it this way: Before she arrived on the scene, the most points any Lady Ram had scored in a career were the 954 put up by Amy Jo Stewart in the late 1980s. Fedullo eclipsed that as a junior, became the first AHS girl to score 1,000 career points later that season and wrapped up her career this year with an even 1,500 points for her career.
Oh, and the 5-foot-11 College of Saint Rose-bound wing player also put up a double-double more often than not throughout her career and led the Lady Rams to back-to-back Section II Class A championship game appearances after the program went 22 years without appearing in a sectional final.
This season was Fedullo’s finest all-around performance, averaging 19.1 points, 10 rebounds and three steals per game. She shot 49.4 percent from the field and 71 percent (92-of-128) at the free throw line on her way to finishing as the Foothills Council’s second-leading scorer behind Gloversville’s Harmony Philo.
One of only two area players to reach double figures in scoring in every game she played this season, Fedullo had nine games of 20 points or more — topped by a 30-point performance in a Jan. 30 win over Gloversville — and was named a first-team all-star in the Foothills Council.
COACH OF THE YEAR
Eric Duemler, Amsterdam — Since joining the Foothills Council three seasons ago, Duemler has led the Lady Rams to three straight South Division titles and three straight appearances in the league championship game. During that span, the only Foothills team to beat the Lady Rams during the regular season has been Glens Falls, which has won back-to-back Section II Class B championships. In South Division play, the Lady Rams have not lost a regular season game in 24 tries, and they’ve won 16 straight games over division opponents since a 2015 sectional quarterfinal loss to Scotia-Glenville.
This season, Duemler led a veteran Lady Rams team to an 18-5 record, a 12-1 regular-season mark in the Foothills Council, a third straight division title and a second straight trip to the Section II Class A final. Mixing defenses that left opponents constantly confused, the Lady Rams averaged a dozen steals per night, outrebounded their opponents 798-691, dished out nearly 13 assists per game, shot 40 percent from the field and 68 percent from the free throw line.
Julianna Taylor, Sr., Fonda-Fultonville — A four-year starter for the Lady Braves, Taylor is an all-area first-team selection for the third consecutive season. The dynamic point guard led both the area and the Western Athletic Conference in scoring at 20.8 points per game, finishing as one of just six girls in Section II to average at least 20 points along with Lake George’s GraceAnnn Bennett, North Warren’s Madasyn Bush, Gloversville’s Harmony Philo, Niskayuna’s Olivia Owens and Columbia’s Selena Lott.
A first-team large-school all-star in the WAC, Taylor added 5.7 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 2.45 steals per game for Fonda-Fultonville while hitting a team-high 42 3-pointers. Along with Fedullo, Taylor was the only area player to score in double figures in every game she played this season, putting up 20 or more points on 15 occasions — including a 30-point game Dec. 16 against Fort Plain and a 31-point night Jan. 4 against OESJ. The only area girl to pass 1,000 career points this season, Taylor wrapped up her career with 1,209 points.
Giuliana Pritchard, Jr., Amsterdam — A presence in the Lady Rams’ starting lineup since she was in eighth grade, Pritchard took her game to another level this season in earning a second straight all-area nod. Starting out with a bang by putting up 18 points in a season-opening win against Niskayuna and 20 against Gloversville, Pritchard kept grinding out consistent performances all season to earn first-team all-star honors in the Foothills Council South Division. The 5-foot-10 junior extended her shooting range into 3-point territory, knocking down 13 shots from beyond the arc, including three as part of a career-high 24-point performance Jan. 30 against Gloversville.
On the year, Pritchard averaged 13.1 points and seven rebounds per night while also leading the Lady Rams in blocked shots and finishing second in assists.
Sydney Sheldon, Jr., Mayfield — Stepping into the role of leading scorer that had previously been held by 1,000-point scorer Julie Hampton, Sheldon took the reins for the Lady Panthers with a flourish. The junior point guard put up huge all-around numbers, finishing third in the area in scoring at 18.6 points per game, grabbing 5.8 rebounds per game and averaging an absurd 5.3 steals per night.
Sheldon finished third in the WAC in scoring behind Taylor and Middleburgh’s Lyndsey McCoy, and reached double figures in all but one game. Among her season highlights included a 27-point night against Greenwich in a game where she scored all but seven of Mayfield’s points, and a career-high 32 points in a Jan. 27 win over Canajoharie.
Merari Freeman, Sr., OESJ — Freeman and the Lady Wolves were short on depth all season, but the senior forward came up in big spots over and over again. The 5-foot-11 Freeman was a force in the post, averaging 14.7 points per game en route to being named a first-team WAC all-star in the small-school division.
Freeman was extremely consistent throughout the season, scoring in double figures on 15 occasions — including three games of 20 or more points. She also proved to be adept at getting to the free throw line with 140 attempts at the charity stripe, and connected on 72.1 percent of her free throws.
Maria Lomanto, Sr., Amsterdam — The third scoring option in Amsterdam’s starting lineup behind Fedullo and Pritchard, Lomanto was a deadly shooter from the wing, knocking down a team-high 40 3-pointers on her way to averaging 7.7 points per night. Lomanto split time almost 50/50 with fellow senior Brady Santiago — a 2016 All-Area selection and an honorable mention choice this year — and the duo combined to put up 15.2 points and five rebounds per game.
A second-team Foothills Council South Division all-star, Lomanto reached double figures in scoring on 10 occasions, including 15-point efforts Jan. 19 against Glens Falls and Jan. 30 against Gloversville, when she knocked down a season-high five 3-pointers. The 5-foot-6 guard was also often responsible for guarding the other team’s top scoring threat when the Lady Rams played in their box-and-one or triangle-and-two defenses.