By ADAM SHINDER
For the Express
BROADALBIN — The opportunity was sitting there for the Amsterdam Running Rams to reach out and snatch the Foothills Council South Division boys basketball championship. Mike Mann and the Broadalbin-Perth Patriots simply took it away.
Mann, making his first start since late December, hit seven 3-pointers on his way to a game-high 24 points, helping B-P avenge a loss to Amsterdam 13 days earlier with a resounding 74-56 win Tuesday at Robert C. Munn Gymnasium. Coupled with Scotia-Glenville’s 73-50 win Tuesday over Johnstown, Amsterdam fell to second place in the South Division, meaning the Rams will be resigned to play a meaningless crossover game Friday while S-G heads to the Glens Falls Civic Center Thursday night to play for the league title.
“We got outplayed tonight,” Amsterdam coach Tim Jones said. “Every rebound, every loose ball, every tip of a shot. Everything. Not much else to say.”
Mann came out red-hot, knocking down three of his first four 3-point attempts en route to an 11-point opening quarter outburst. That helped B-P (15-4, 9-4 Foothills) open up a 13-4 lead after the first eight minutes.
It was Mann’s best game since he scored 30 points on a school record-tying 10 3-pointers Dec. 5 against Cobleskill-Richmondville — his first game with the Patriots after transferring to B-P from Mekeel Christian Academy for this school year.
“We have to play smart and not force shots and we did that tonight,” Mann said. “This was a total team effort.”
Amsterdam (13-4, 10-3), which had a nine-game win streak snapped, never got closer than seven points the rest of the game, and once B-P extended the lead to 11 points midway through the second quarter, the Rams never pulled back inside of single digits.
“We didn’t have lapses. The focus was there tonight,” B-P coach Tucker Gifford said. “When we needed a big play, we got a big play, and that’s what we hadn’t been getting lately.”
In addition to Mann’s 24 points, B-P got 16 points from Vincenzo DiCaterino and 14 from Colby Hartz.
“We rebounded and pushed the ball. That’s how we got easy layups and got the early lead,” Hartz said.
Kory Bergh was the only Amsterdam player to finish in double figures, scoring 13 points, but the senior star was frustrated for most of the night by tight defense from B-P junior point guard Preston Taylor. It was a far cry from Jan. 18, when Bergh scored 25 points in the Rams’ 81-75 home win over B-P. That game, Gifford said, was a tipping point for B-P’s defense.
“It’s been a defensive clinic around here for about two weeks,” he said. “Not to their liking, but it’s been Coach Gifford’s defensive drills every day for about two hours a day, and they’re starting to respond to how we want to play.”
“We didn’t play our game,” Jones said. “We didn’t get the shots that we wanted, and I think that’s why we didn’t make them.”
For the Patriots, it was a satisfying win in front of an intense home crowd — their first victory in four tries against Amsterdam since the Rams made the move to the Foothills Council in 2014.
“It’s a big game any time you play somebody five miles down the road. It’s kind of created a little rivalry for us,” Gifford said. “It was a good response to the first time we played them. Our guys were focused and brought a lot of energy.”
For the Rams, it was a frustrating night, but one that Jones stressed to his team doesn’t mean much in the long run with the goal of a Section II Class A championship still in sight later this month.
“It was a little deflating, but it’s not sectionals,” Jones said. “We need to keep that in mind. It’s a game. It’s a big game, but we can learn from it. I think any time you play in an atmosphere like that, it can only help you grow down the road.”