TOWN OF AMSTERDAM -- A home-and-home series against the highly-touted Green Tech Eagles didn't produce a win for the Amsterdam High School boys basketball team, but a pair of tight games against a Section II power have the Running Rams feeling they're on the right path with Foothills Council play set to open next week.
A week after a 10-point road loss to the Eagles in Albany, the Rams opened up their home schedule Friday with a rematch against Green Tech and matched their foes stride-for-stride most of the night, but a quick burst by the Eagles right out of halftime proved to be the difference as Green Tech opened up a gap and never let it close in a 69-61 win.
Marcus Friend scored 24 points to lead three Green Tech players in double figures. The Eagles trailed by as many as eight in the first half, but took a one-point lead into halftime and scored nine points in the first 85 seconds of the third quarter to take control of the game for good. Amsterdam never got closer than six points down the stretch.
"They came out hot at the start of the second half and we couldn't match it," Amsterdam coach Tim Jones said. "The same thing happened down there (last week). We talk about how good teams make that run. But, we were right there again. We're in the process of doing what we do, trying to get better."
Anthony Aponte scored 17 points to lead Amsterdam (0-2). Dale Stanavich and Willie Brown chipped in 13 points apiece and Robbie Spagnola scored 10 for the Rams, but foul trouble mounted in the second half and when center Louis Fedullo fouled out early in the fourth quarter, the Rams were forced to play an extremely small lineup against the lanky Eagles and ended up forcing rushed shots in traffic that hindered their comeback attempt.
"We had to try something to get it going," Aponte said.
Green Tech led by as many as 14 points in the fourth quarter before Amsterdam made a brief 11-3 run to make things interesting, closing within 64-58 when Stanavich hit a pair of free throws with 1:22 to play. But, Green Tech's Jair Currie answered with a 3-point play eight seconds later and the Rams were unable to respond down the stretch.
The Eagles were aided by a 15-of-17 performance from the free throw line that helped seal the win in the fourth quarter. In addition to Friend's 24 points, Amil Rodriguez chipped in a dozen points and Tyler Dobbs scored 11, including a trio of 3-pointers that helped Green Tech rebound from a sluggish start that saw Amsterdam open up an early 14-6 lead.
"I told them, 'Fellas, you play a team twice in one week, they're gonna play you even tougher (the second time),'" Green Tech coach Jamil Hood Sr. said. "Amsterdam's a really good program, they came out and fought both games. You can't overlook any team. They were really solid today."
Amsterdam held tough despite playing long stretches with a small-ball lineup that saw Spagnola as the only forward surrounded by Aponte, Stanavich and varsity newcomers Brown and Tristan Green.
Lacking experience heading into the season, Jones said these two games against Green Tech were valuable lessons for the team heading forward.
"Everything's a process, and we're trying to work our way through the process. You can look at wins and losses too much," he said. "We have some inexperience, and it's gonna be hands-on training. Sometimes that will be great, sometimes it's not gonna be great."
Amsterdam will open its Foothills slate Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. with a home game against Gloversville.
"We know where we stand. We know we've got to work a lot harder," Aponte said. "This was good for us."
NOTES: The Amsterdam JV team closed the game with a big run to notch a 69-60 win over Green Tech, completing a sweep of the JV version of the home-and-home between the two teams. Ozzy DeJesus scored 21 points, Peyton Ausfeld scored 20, eighth grader Marcus Jackson had 15 points and Jeffrey Brennan chipped in seven points in the win.
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Alex Cooper / Recorder staff Amsterdam's Dale Stanavich (2) looks to pass the ball to a teammate during the game against Green Tech High on Friday, December 09, at Amsterdam High School.
Alex Cooper / Recorder staff Amsterdam's Anthony Aponte (4) moves the ball to the net during the game against Green Tech High on Friday, December 09, at Amsterdam High School.
Alex Cooper / Recorder staff Amsterdam's Robbie Spagnola (5) dribble the ball against a defender during the game against Green Tech High on Friday, December 09, at Amsterdam High School.
Alex Cooper / Recorder staff Amsterdam's Tristan Green (14) gets fouled a layup during the game against Green Tech High on Friday, December 09, at Amsterdam High School.