BY MICHAEL KELLY
AMSTERDAM — A varsity rookie, sophomore Cam Tooley’s veteran-like presence at the point-guard position has been a driving force behind the Shenendehowa girls’ basketball team’s sensational start.
Not bad for a player head coach Joe Murphy expected to see spot minutes this season until senior guard Courtney Guiry went down with a preseason injury.
“I knew Cam would be a contributor and could maybe platoon with Courtney, but she’s done a great job adjusting on the fly,” Murphy said.
What Tooley brings to the Plainsmen was on display Dec. 28 in Shenendehowa’s 87-25 dismantling of Section III’s Rome Free Academy as part of the Amsterdam Holiday College Showcase. In limited minutes because of the game’s margin, Tooley collected 13 points, six assists, and three steals — a normal output for her this season.
“Cam’s really stepped up,” said Shenendehowa senior guard Carly Boland, who had a game-high 21 points. “She’s a young player, but she brings a lot of fire to our team.”
Undefeated Shenendehowa — ranked No. 6 in the state — entered the season with high expectations, a product of a loaded roster including three players already committed to play college basketball. While taking the reins of the Plainsmen came with pressure, Tooley has played it cool.
“I just go out and try to do my job, get everyone else the ball and make sure we’re playing as a team,” she said.
Tooley offers more than that, though, for the Plainsmen.
“She really directs our offense,” Boland said. “We know we can rely on Cam to get out energy up and get us back in line.”
That showed against Rome Free Academy. Following a 6-6 tie, Tooley had five points and a pair of assists in Shenendehowa’s 17-0 run to end the first quarter. Rome Free Academy never recovered, as the Plainsmen — who had every healthy player score — forced 25 turnovers in their latest victory.
This season, Shenendehowa has won its games with an average margin of victory of 46.0 points per game. The team’s starters rarely see fourth-quarter action, but Tooley has had little issue making the most of her minutes; against Rome Free Academy, Tooley secured her 13 points while shooting 4-for-4 from the field and 3-for-4 from the foul line.
“She’s a very willing passer and she can be a little too unselfish, sometimes,” Murphy said. “But to have another kid who can score the basketball at a high percentage like she does, it adds to what we can do.”
For Murphy, a trip to play at Amsterdam High School provided a home game, of sorts. The Shenendehowa coach graduated from Amsterdam and won a state championship in 1995 with the school’s football team.
“[Amsterdam] puts on a great event with great competition every year,” said Murphy, who still lives in the area. “We get to play different teams here every year . . . and it’s nice to get out to see different teams.”
Amsterdam head coach Eric Duemler said the showcase is in the sixth year of its present form, a series of one-offs between teams from around the Northeast. College coaches frequent the event to check out the talent on the floor, with representatives coming from a number of Division I, II, and III schools.
“We put it together to not only expose our Amsterdam girls, but to get some exposure for girls’ basketball, in general — and it’s here at little Amsterdam High School, which is a bonus,” Duemler said.
In its second game at the showcase, Shenendehowa cruised to a 69-33 win against Mansfield, a team from Massachusetts. In that victory, Boland had 17 points, while junior forward Sydney Brown collected 13 points and 12 rebounds. In that contest, Tooley scored six points as Shenendehowa moved to 8-0 for the season.