AMSTERDAM - The Johnstown Lady Bills overcame a dreadful first quarter to surge past the Amsterdam Lady Rams 54-48 Saturday at Amsterdam High School.
Johnstown's offense never got a chance to percolate in the first quarter, as 10 turnovers gave the Lady Rams extra possessions that they capitalized on with ease. While many of the Johnstown (10-4 overall, 7-3 Foothills) turnovers went the other way for fast-break layups, Caitlin Gannon was effective from long range in the first. The junior hit two threes, including one at the end of the quarter that capped an 8-0 Lady Rams (7-8 overall, 5-7 Big 10) run. Trailing 15-6 entering the second quarter, Johnstown head coach Tim Derwin spoke bluntly about what he saw out of his team early.
"That was the absolute worst start we've had all year," Derwin said. "We were playing at such a low level in the first quarter. You couldn't have been any worse."
Over the course of the remaining three quarters, Johnstown ground back into the game methodically. Johnstown shored up their turnover issues in the second quarter, giving the ball away just three times while exhibiting a balanced scoring approach. The Lady Bills got 13 points from five players in the frame while holding Amsterdam to seven. Amsterdam's leading scorer, freshman Nina Fedullo, scored five in the quarter for Amsterdam. Fedullo scored five points in each of the first three quarters and finished with a game-high 18 points and 10 rebounds.
The Lady Bills cut the deficit to three entering halftime, but didn't take their first lead of the game until the end of the third quarter. The teams traded baskets early, but Hope Cerasuolo scored four straight for Johnstown to tie the game at 31 with 1:09 remaining in the quarter. With 35 seconds remaining, Megan Anagnostopulos knocked down a corner three to put the Lady Bills up 34-32. Kaitlyn Devine answered with a three of her own at the other end, but a layup near the buzzer gave Johnstown a 36-35 lead entering the fourth quarter.
"I think the way we came back we showed poise," said Derwin. "This team has won a lot of games now. They've been behind and they know how to come back, so they made the correction."
Johnstown extended their lead in the fourth, opening the quarter on a 7-2 run. After a layup by O'Rourke pushed Johnstown's lead to five midway through, senior captain Kelsi Barnholt drained her second three of the game to take the wind out of Amsterdam's sails for good.
"That was one of the flattest, worst-played first quarters from our standpoint, but this team didn't pack it in," said Derwin. "They chipped away and got it to three at half and we got a one point advantage heading into the fourth and pushed ourselves over the top."
While Johnstown was able to cut down on their turnovers as the game progressed, Amsterdam struggled to hold onto the ball. The Lady Rams finished with 24 total turnovers including 19 in the second half, while the Lady Bills had just nine in the final three quarters.
Cerasuolo and Anagnostopulos led Johnstown with 13 points apiece, while Alyssa Nellis led the team with eight rebounds. Nellis did much of her work on the boards during Johnstown's second-half surge.
The Lady Bills have now won four straight games and will look to make it five when they host Hudson Falls on Friday at 7 p.m. The Lady Rams will play their next game Feb. 4 on the road at Bishop Gibbons.
Johnstown 54, Amsterdam 48
Johnstown6 13 17 18 - 54
Amsterdam15 7 13 13 - 48
Anagnostopulos 3-6-13, Cerasuolo 5-3-13, O'Rourke 4-3-11, Barnholt 3-0-8, Nellis 1-2-4, McCoy 1-1-3, Stock 1-0-2. Totals 18-15-54.
Fedullo 5-7-18, Devine 5-2-13, Gannon 4-0-11, Roach 2-0-4, Pritchard 1-0-2. Totals 17-9-48.
3-point-goals: Johnstown 3 (Barnholt 2, Anagnostopulos); Amsterdam 5 (Gannon 3, Fedullo, Devine)