ALBANY — Both Hudson Falls’ Peyton Smith and Amsterdam’s Jhai Vellon sat out of Sunday’s boys’ basketball crossover at the Foothills Council Showcase. But there was a difference.
Smith is a large part of Hudson Falls’ team. Vellon, as good as he is, is just part of what the Rams have built — not just this season, but ever since elementary school.
So, depth and chemistry being what they are, Amsterdam (19-1) carried on without him and earned a comfortable 78-51 victory at the Washington Avenue Armory.
The win practically assures Amsterdam of earning the number one seed in Class A at Wednesday’s seeding meeting for the Section II boys’ basketball tournament. The Rams’ only loss this season is in overtime to defending Class AA champion Green Tech.
Amsterdam ran out to a 7-0 start in the first 1:06, and saved another run for late in the first quarter, scoring nine points in the final two minutes to double up the Tigers 24-12 entering the second.
“We came out, like, we cannot get a loss going into sectionals because usually it’s back-to-back losses you take, so we wanted a win really bad,” said Amsterdam swingman Ceasar Thompson, who led all scorers with 27 points. “Our guard being out, we wanted it even more, so we had to work harder.
“We wanted to come in and dominate,” Thompson added. “When we go to sectionals, we want everyone to be scared of Amsterdam because we’re coming with a chip on our shoulder.”
And a chemistry that you can’t buy, though many teams wish they could. It was on display Sunday, especially among senior guards JaShean Vann and Victor Dueno, who combined for nine first-half assists in helping Amsterdam take a 46-28 lead.
The 6-foot-9, 245-pound Smith averages 24.9 points per game for Hudson Falls (16-4). He and Vellon both sprained ankles in games Tuesday. Vellon went through warmups, but never played. Smith, though in uniform, did not go through warmups.
That allowed Amsterdam to have a big rebounding advantage and paint presence. Alec Bartone led the way for the Rams with 18 points, six rebounds and three blocked shots. In addition to his 11 points, Vann added 10 rebounds, while Thompson corralled eight.
“We really just wanted to come in here, show everyone what we could do and really set a precedent for what we’re going to do at sectionals,” Bartone said.
While Thompson had 27 points, it didn’t come off as dominating or out of flow. That’s the way Amsterdam likes it.
“Whoever has the hot hand, we just feed him, and today, luckily, I had the hot hand, and my guys just know my spots and where I want to be,” said Thompson, who is especially effective at hanging in the air.
“Stay strong,” Amsterdam coach Tim Jones said of his pre-game message. “A gym like this, and it’s our last game before sectionals, so it’s very important how you finish today. You don’t get do-overs [in the] next game.”
Amsterdam 24 22 13 19 – 78
Hudson Falls 12 16 11 12 – 51
Amsterdam scoring: Vann 2-7-11, Dueno 3-0-8, Santos Hernandez 2-0-4, Thompson 9-6-27, Azam 1-0-3, Bartone 9-0-18, Franklin 1-0-3, Miller 2-0-4. Hudson Falls scoring: Coon 1-1-4, Williamson 1-2-4, Hardwick 4-0-8, Tyler 6-0-16, France 0-2-2, Dupuis 0-2-2, V.Hernandez 2-0-4, B.Smith 4-3-11. Team totals: Amsterdam 29-13-78. Hudson Falls 18-10-51.
Contact Will Springstead at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @WLSpringstead.