Nina Fedullo received a loud round of applause when she made Amsterdam girls’ basketball history with a first-half free throw in Saturday’s Section II Class A quarterfinal game against Mohonasen.
The star junior got an even louder one when her three-point hoist dropped through late with the contest still up for grabs.
“That put the nail in the coffin,” Mohonasen coach Doug Holden said of Fedullo’s three that made it 61-54 with 50 seconds left. “That made us foul.”
Four foul shots after Fedullo’s clutch bomb finished what was a difficult though fruitful 65-54 victory for the Foothills Council champions, who are on their way to the sectional final four for the first time since 2008.
Mohonasen (No. 7 seed, 6-16) led by as many as 10 twice, and back-to-back layups by Megan Clute and Quinn Roderick had the Lady Warriors leading 54-52 and on the verge of an upset with three minutes left.
“It was a game of swings,” Amsterdam coach Eric Duemler said. “I’m glad we had the last swing. Our girls just toughened up.”
Amsterdam (No. 2, 16-5) closed out the game with a 13-0 run that included a big heaping of defense and the last eight of Fedullo’s 27 points. With her seventh point earlier on, she became the high school’s first female player to reach 1,000.
“I would say defense,” Fedullo said of her team’s put-away run. “We talk about it all the time. We had to buckle down and stop the ball.”
“We were able to get turnovers and that gave us energy and momentum,” Duemler said. “We kept at them and wore them down.”
Holder said his team — with just four seniors — hadn’t seen the kind of pressure Amsterdam applied. Amsterdam came with it in different forms from beginning to end.
“We have to experience these situations in order to grow and get better,” Holden said. “Part of the process is not doing well in these situations. You can’t replicate that situation in practice.”
Before its struggle down the stretch, Mohonasen had gone on a 12-5 spurt which included two threes from Taylor Lupi.
“No one thought Mohonasen was going to win,” said Lupi, who hit four second-half threes. “We showed them what we had.”
Duemler was impressed.
“Doug has done a super job with them,” Duemler said. “I saw them earlier in the year against Saratoga, and they lost by 40. The second time they almost beat Saratoga. Credit the Mohonasen girls for a good battle.”
Saeeda Abdul-Aziz drove for a basket to give Mohonasen a 24-14 second-quarter advantage before Amsterdam ended the half on a 7-0 run that began with two Fedullo foul shots.
Fedullo stole an inbound pass immediately after those and drew a foul, and with two more from the line with 1:35 left, she upped her career points total to 1,000 and 1001. The Division I college prospect ended the half with a jumper and another foul shot.
“Once I hit that foul shot [for her 1,000th point], I loosened up and started to play my game,” said Fedullo, who had 13 rebounds and four steals. “I wasn’t right for most of the half. I was feeling it. They just weren’t dropping.”
Kaitlyn Devine created the ninth tie of the second half at 54-54 with a layup, and Fedullo broke it with a jumper before a Devine putback basket. Fedullo’s big three soon followed, and she went 3-for-4 from the line after Brady Santiago made one of two.
“They made their shots,” Holden said. “They executed. They won, but we were right there. We had our moments. We just wanted to be there.”
Lupi scored 14 of her 16 points in the second half, and Abdul-Aziz notched 12 of her 21 in the first half. Abdul-Aziz also had 19 rebounds, five assists, three steals and three blocks.
Devine had 12 points for the Lady Rams, and Giuliana Pritchard had 10 points, 10 rebounds and five steals.
Amsterdam will play Troy Tuesday at 6 at Ballston Spa. Troy (No. 3, 11-10) rolled to a 67-29 win over Lansingburgh (No. 6, 16-6).
Abdul-Aziz 6-8-21, Brown 3-1-7, Clute 2-0-5, Roderick 2-0-5, Lupi 6-0-16. Totals: 19-9-54.
Devine 4-4-12, Duemler 1-4-6, Fedullo 5-14-27, Lomanto 2-0-5, Santiago 1-1-3, Liverio 1-0-2, Pritchard 3-4-10. Totals: 17-27-65.
Mohonasen 17 7 15 15 — 54
Amsterdam 11 10 20 24 — 65
Three-point goals: Abdul-Aziz, Clute, Roderick, Lupi 4, Fedullo 4.