JOHNSTOWN – Coming off a COVID pause, the Amsterdam girls’ basketball team did just enough to post a 54-53 overtime victory over Johnstown in a Foothills Council contest at Johnstown High School on Wednesday.
“The kids were running on fumes tonight,” Amsterdam coach Eric Duemler said. “We’ve only been on the court once in the last eight days. It was tough. We were lucky to get out of here with a win.”
Sydney Hoefs scored 15 points to lead the Lady Rams, while Brianna Francisco added nine points. Natalee Agresta finished with eight points for Amsterdam, and Sha Sha Cooper and Ashley DiCarlo each had seven points.
Jaden Wilson scored 21 points to lead Johnstown, while Jaidyn Chest had 17 points. Abby Chest added nine points for the Lady Bills. Both Abby and Jaidyn Chest each had three 3-pointers.
“This was one of the best games we’ve put together, and it was against a quality team,” Johnstown coach Tim Derwin said. “We almost pulled it out.”
However, three free throws from DiCarlo with 2.4 seconds to play in overtime provided the winning margin for the Lady Rams.
After a three-point play from Wilson gave Johnstown a 53-51 lead with 28.5 seconds to play, Hoefs missed a shot in the lane for the Lady Rams.
After a scramble and a held ball, the Lady Rams were awarded possession and called timeout with 8.3 seconds to play.
Hoefs inbounded the ball to Rosie Sculco who passed it to DiCarlo, who was fouled on her 3-point attempt with 2.4 seconds left. In regulation, DiCarlo hit the only 3-pointer of the night for Amsterdam, which went 1-for-20 from behind the arc.
With her team down two, DiCarlo sank all three shots to lift Amsterdam to the win.
“Ashley [DiCarlo] was clutch,” Duemler said. “When she hit her first one, I thought she had good rhythm. She hit nothing but net on all three.”
For DiCarlo, seeing her free throws fall was a relief.
“There was a little pressure,” she said. “I’m glad I was able to make them all and help us get the win. This wasn’t our best game, but we managed to pull out the win.”
For nearly all 36 minutes of the game, the outcome was in doubt throughout.
“You’ve got to take away the positives from a game like this,” Derwin said. “It was tough to lose like we did, but we did an awful lot of good things tonight, too.”
In their first meeting of the season, the Lady Rams used a late surge to pull away to a 63-45 victory over the Lady Bills on Dec. 28 in the Amsterdam Holiday College Showcase.
It was the Lady Bills that started quickly Wednesday, jumping out to a 12-7 lead after one quarter.
Abby Chest hit a pair of 3-pointers in the opening quarter for Johnstown, which extended its lead to 10 points in the second quarter before Amsterdam scored the final four points of the half to trail 25-19 at the break.
“We struggled in the first half,” DiCarlo said. “We just needed to start putting points on the board.”
The Lady Rams did just that in the third quarter, outscoring Johnstown 13-5 to take a 32-30 lead into the fourth quarter.
“We had a lull after halftime where we just couldn’t get anything going,” Derwin said. “We just couldn’t get it rolling until late in the game. To our credit, we stayed the course and came all the way back.”
Amsterdam scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter to push its lead to 39-30 before Johnstown rallied to force overtime.
The Lady Bills outscored the Lady Rams 16-7 over the final five minutes of regulation to force overtime.
Jaidyn Chest tied the game with a 3-pointer with just 9.6 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
In the extra session, Johnstown grabbed a quick four-point advantage on back-to-back baskets by Wilson and Kallie Ahern.
Hoefs answered with five straight points to give the Lady Rams a 51-50 lead before Wilson converted a three-point play to put the Lady Bills up 53-51.
Amsterdam emerged with the hard-fought victory thanks to DiCarlo’s free throws.
“It was a heck of a game,” Derwin said. “The girls are disappointed with the outcome, but I couldn’t be happier with our effort and how far we’ve come since the start of the season.”
Johnstown’s last win over Amsterdam was by a 54-48 margin in a non-league contest on Jan. 25, 2014.
“Every year, it seems like you have a game that you shouldn’t have won, but steal it, and a game that you should have won but didn’t,” Duemler said. “Tonight was one of those games where we somehow pulled it out. We’re happy to get a game in and getting back out there to play.”
Amsterdam (8-1 overall, 8-1 Foothills) is scheduled to travel to Schuylerville on Thursday for a 7 p.m. contest before traveling to Broadalbin-Perth on Saturday for a 2:30 p.m. game.
Johnstown (6-4 overall, 6-4 Foothills) is slated to travel to Queensbury on Thursday for a 7 p.m. game.
“Coming right back after this game and playing Queensbury is going to be tough,” Derwin said. “We knew this was going to be a tough week, so we’re just going to regroup and give it our best shot.”
Amsterdam 7 12 13 14 8 – 54
Johnstown 12 13 5 16 7 – 53
Amsterdam scoring: Cooper 3-1-7, DiCarlo 1-4-7, Hoefs 3-9-15, Agresta 4-0-8, Goodson 2-0-4, Sculco 2-0-4, Francisco 4-1-9. Johnstown scoring: Wilson 7-6-21, A. Chest 3-0-9, J. Chest 6-2-17, Ahern 2-0-4, Johnson 1-0-2. Scoring totals: Amsterdam 19-15-54, Johnstown, 19-8-53.