AMSTERDAM — Tommy Ziskin waited a long time to get his junior boys’ basketball season going at Amsterdam. His return to the court, plus a few others, have a once-depleted Running Rams roster gearing up for the stretch drive.
Ziskin, a 5-foot-11 forward, missed the first month-plus of the season while recuperating from injuries that shortened his football season.
“I had two concussions in the course of about a month,” Ziskin said following Amsterdam’s 74-56 loss to Gloversville on Tuesday.
Ziskin, a quarterback and defensive back on Amsterdam’s football team, suffered the first injury in Week 4 of the season against Albany. That kept him out of the lineup until he returned for the first round of the Section II Class A playoffs against Ballston Spa. Amsterdam lost that game, and Ziskin ended up getting hurt again in the Rams’ Week 9 crossover game against Scotia-Glenville.
“Just a broken play, got wrapped up and hit on the side when the guy came off the edge,” Ziskin said. “It happens. It’s football.”
Basketball practice started about a week after that second injury, but Ziskin — projected to be an important piece in Amsterdam coach Tim Jones’ rotation this season — was watching from the sidelines.
It’s only in the last few weeks that Ziskin has gotten back on the floor, making his first contributions of the year when he scored eight points in Amsterdam’s Jan. 17 win over Johnstown. He’s quickly established himself as one of the first players off the bench for the Rams, and was playing crucial minutes in the second half Tuesday as Amsterdam tried to come back from a double-digit deficit against Gloversville.
“The past few games, it’s been great to be back to normal,” Ziskin said. “I wouldn’t be able to be here right now if it weren’t for our coach, our athletic trainer Carla [Pasquarelli] and all their patience with me. It feels great.”
Ziskin’s return to health is one of several boosts for an Amsterdam roster that was depleted during the team’s four-game losing streak, at one point having only eight healthy players available. In addition to Ziskin, senior Tyler Safran — out since suffering an ankle injury Dec. 10 at Gloversville — is also making his way back into the lineup.
Jones also called up sophomore Tyrell Douglas two weeks ago, and he’s immediately provided an offensive spark off the bench. The mid-season JV call-up is a move that’s worked well for Jones multiple times in the past. Yandeel Vazquez was brought up to the varsity squad in January 2019 and became the team’s best offensive player in the stretch run, while Ozzy DeJesus — now a senior at Mekeel Christian Academy — was brought up midway through the 2016-17 season.
“We got through all our hurdles,” Jones said. “Now, we’ve just got to be able to get through our biggest one, which is being able to play 32 minutes.”
Reach Adam Shinder at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @Adam_Shinder.