AMSTERDAM — A solid defensive performance and a big scoring game from a sophomore newcomer were part of the Amsterdam boys’ basketball team’s season debut Wednesday night, yet Rams coach Tim Jones afterward was looking at a bigger picture.
“We’re very grateful that Montgomery County, the superintendents, athletic directors and trainers made this possible,” Jones said in a phone interview after his Rams topped Fort Plain
62-42 in their first game since March 1 of last year. “The biggest win in all these games is the kids playing.”
Neither team played great, but both showed flashes of what the future might hold, in the non-league contest.
Amsterdam, a Class A school and member of the Foothills Council, was facing Fort Plain, a Class C school from the Western Athletic Conference, as Montgomery County’s five schools are currently only allowed to play “high” risk sports against each other due to the county’s coronavirus infection rate.
“We’re asking them to play after six practices. How are you doing on a job six days in?” Jones said after the game that prohibited fans as well as reporters and was shown on a live stream. “I’m smiling right now. I told them I’m going to be laid back. We’ve got six weeks to enjoy it. We’re going to use this time together as a learning process and keep it positive.”
Fort Plain, like Amsterdam, is quite happy to be playing when not too long ago its season was in limbo.
“A lot of counties are not playing. We’re thankful to be playing,” Hilltoppers coach Casey Russom said by phone. “The kids need it. They need it so bad, just like the band kids and drama kids need their thing.”
Amsterdam’s thing court-wise is tough man-to-man defense, and the Rams did that well. During one stretch in the fourth quarter they turned a trio of steals into six quick points at the other end as their advantage grew to an insurmountable 54-32.
“We like to turn it over and go,” Jones said.
“Amsterdam put enough pressure on us where we coughed it up and that was a big part of the game,” said Russom, who guided his team to the Section II Class C semifinals last season before their last game on March 3. “We knew that was coming, and we didn’t handle it very well. It’s something we’ve got to work on.”
Sophomore forward Ceasar Thompson led Amsterdam with 20 points in his first varsity start, including 13 in the opening half when the Rams raced to a 31-26 advantage. Thompson’s first-half effort included three 3-point baskets in the second quarter.
Tyrell Douglas scored 11 points for Amsterdam, and JaShean Vann contributed 10.
“With this team, I believe anyone can lead us in scoring,” Jones said. “I’ve got a well-balanced group.”
Jones was pleased with the ball movement that created plenty of open looks at the basket.
“I love it,” Jones said of his team’s sharing of the ball. “They did a good job. They really did that well.”
Robert Jordan paced Fort Plain with 16 points.
Fort Plain 9 7 16 11 — 42
Amsterdam 8 13 12 19 — 62
Fort Plain scoring: Nemecek 1-0-2, Jordan 6-4-16, Thomas 2-2-6, Welch 0-1-1, Landry 3-2-8, Vangorder 1-0-3, Smith 2-0-5, Lemoine 0-1-1. Amsterdam scoring: Vann 4-2-10, Douglas 5-0-11, Thopson 7-2-20, Vazquez 2-0-5, Vellon 2-2-6, Ziskin 1-1-4, McHeard 1-2-4, Shatas 1-0-2. Scoring totals: Fort Plain 15-10-42. Amsterdam 23-9-62.