GLENS FALLS – The Amsterdam boys’ basketball team was in a good position, up 17 points over Troy in the second quarter of the Section II Class A championship game.
The Flying Horses were able to turn a switch, mounting a late comeback to tie the game and force two overtime periods, eventually overcoming the Rams to claim the Class A title, 72-68.
“They’re a tough team. They’re a really, really good team,” Troy senior point guard Steve Foust said of Amsterdam. “Down 17, it didn’t really faze us. We’ve been down a lot this season, up a lot, but the one thing about this team is that we fight.”
Amsterdam was on cruise control in the first quarter, hitting five 3-pointers in the period to take a 22-13 advantage. The Rams continued to build their lead in the second quarter, using a 10-2 run to extend the lead to 17. However, Troy responded with a 9-1 run of their own to end the first half.
The top-seeded Rams and third-seeded Flying Horses matched each other, pound-for-pound, in the third, but Troy outscored Amsterdam by 10 points in the fourth quarter, to tie the game and send it to overtime.
Late in the fourth, Amsterdam held a 56-50 lead, but back-to-back 3s from Foust and Troy eighth-grade standout Stetson Merritt evened things up. Terrance Clark, a junior, gave the Flying Horses their first lead since the first quarter, 58-56, on a floater inside the paint.
“Everybody can put the ball in the basket,” said Clark. “We’re a team for a reason. There’s no ‘I’ or no one man that’s going to do it all.”
“We’ve been in a lot of games like this,” Troy coach John Kilian explained. “We’ve lost four games this season on the last possession and we lost three games by one point. We’ve had a lot of adversity in games and today was no different, being down 17.”
With 13.3 seconds remaining in regulation, Troy was called for a backcourt violation on an inbound, giving the Rams one last possession. Amsterdam senior Ceasar Thompson took advantage, converting a pass from Jhai Vellon to tie the game back up, 58-58, and sent it to overtime.
The dynamic of the game changed during the first overtime. On a double-technical, Thompson fouled out for Amsterdam and Damarion Tucker fouled out for Troy.
“In two overtimes, that was huge,” Foust said of that call. “They lost their key player, Ceasar Thompson, and we were able to get it done.”
The Class A title game headed for double overtime after senior Mike Wiltshire hit two free throws in the final seconds on a one-and-one, tying things up at 64-64.
“He rehabbed about as hard as you can rehab,” Kilian said on Wiltshire, who suffered a serious injury during football season, getting back on the court. “He was out there hitting the free throws that won us the game.”
Late in the second overtime, Clark hit two shots from the line, followed by one from Foust, providing the Flying Horses with a 71-68 lead. Amsterdam’s ensuing 3-point attempt fell short with 2.2 seconds on the clock, all but ensuring Troy’s win; their first title since 2016.
“I knew that we came too far. We had to come away with the championship,” said Stetson Merritt, Troy’s eighth-grader who was named the Class A Tournament MVP. “We had to keep fighting; we just had to keep fighting.”
“It doesn’t feel real right now,” Foust added. “It’ll definitely hit me, the final seconds ticking down, holding the plaque and taking the pictures with my team, I’d don’t think it’ll hit me fully for awhile.”
Merritt led the way for Troy with 23 points, with three 3-pointers, and five rebounds. Clark, who was named to the All-Tournament team, scored 22 points and collected eight rebounds. Tucker tacked on nine points and 14 rebounds, while Foust scored ten points and Wiltshire scored eight.”
With Troy on the bench waiting to receive the Class A plaque, Kilian went up the line, congratulating each of his players.
“There’s 14 kids on this team and even though not all of them got to play during the sectional run, each and every one of them contributed to us winning the title,” he said. “Kids don’t care how much you know about basketball until they know how much you care about them as individuals. I have a love and respect for my players and they have a love and respect for me and that’s a bond that will take you anywhere in life.”
The Rams, who had five players score in double-digits, were led by Thompson’s 17 points and five rebounds. Jhai Vellon nearly posted a triple-double, accumulating 14 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.
Thompson and Vellon, who play football and basketball together, are set to continue their football careers at the NCAA D-II level, with Vellon (QB) committed to Franklin Pierce and Thompson (WR) committed to Lock Haven.
Victor Dueno scored 13 points for the Rams and JaShean Vann added 12 points and eight rebounds. Alec Bartone tacked on ten.
Saturday marked just the seconds loss of the season top-seeded Amsterdam, as they conclude their 2022-2023 campaign with an overall record of 21-2.
Troy, now 13-10 overall, advanced to the Class A NYSPHSAA Tournament, where it awaits the Section III champion, who they’ll face in a regional contest on March 8 at 6 p.m. at Liverpool High School.
Troy 13 17 11 17 8 6 — 72
Amsterdam 22 17 12 7 6 4 — 68
Troy scoring: Clark 8-6-22, Foust 4-1-10, S. Merritt 10-0-23, Tucker 4-0-9, Wiltshire 2-4-8. Amsterdam scoring: Vann 4-3-12, Dueno 5-0-13, Thompson 6-3-17, Vellon 5-4-14, Bartone 4-2-10, Miller 1-0-2. Team scoring: Troy 28-11-72, Amsterdam 25-12-68.
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Categories: High School Sports, Sports