GLENS FALLS, N.Y. — What epitomizes Joseph Girard III? It’s not all the points, though they are plentiful.
Girard III, the state’s all-time career scoring leader, lurked about 20 feet from the baseline with South Bronx Prep set to inbound the ball down seven points with 31.5 seconds left in overtime on Saturday at Cool Insuring Arena.
The Glens Falls boys basketball team, playing in front of a sold-out home crowd in a Federation Class B semifinal, is accustomed to seeing Girard III win games by scoring. After all, the Indians made it to this tournament on his buzzer-beating layup in overtime in last weekend’s state final.
This time, it was about an intangible that won’t show up in a box score. As South Bronx Prep rolled the ball in an effort to save time, Girard III shot himself forward, diving to steal possession away. Glens Falls went on to win, 77-70, advancing to the championship game against Cardinal O’Hara on Sunday.
“I saw that they were going to try to roll it, even with me standing there, and I felt if I could give my 100 percent effort with 30 seconds left in the game just to win it, I thought it’d help us,” said Girard III, whose 42 points decreased his season average. He entered play at 49.1 points per game. Since 8th grade, he has accumulated 4,720 points.
“That’s who he is,” said Glens Falls coach Robert Girard, his uncle. “If there’s a way we can win, he’s going to find it.”
Jimmer Fredette is the gold standard around these parts, as the Glens Falls native put the small town in Warren County on the map. From 2003-07, Fredette scored 2,404 points at Glens Falls, leading the team to the state title game before his career took off at Brigham Young University.
As a senior, Fredette won every national college player of the year award and averaged 28.9 points per game. He was drafted 10th overall in 2011 by Milwaukee but was traded to Sacramento, though he never quite found his footing in the NBA. After three years playing for Shanghai, he signed with the Suns on Friday.
Naturally, the 30-year-old Fredette served as a role model for Girard III. The talented sharpshooters work out together in the offseason, and Girard III even earned the nickname “Jimmer Jr.” for his almost limitless range. The area code in Glens Falls is 518, but it seems like he hits shots from out of town.
Girard III’s fan following is out of this world. Close to 100 young fans lined up in the tunnel outside the locker room Saturday to snap pictures or get autographs from the senior bound for Syracuse.
“I think he’s good for high school sports,” said Robert Zayas, the Executive Director of NYSPHSAA. “There are people interested in coming out to watch him that he might not attract as a casual fan. And we need more of that.
“You look outside, and the streets are buzzing and the people are buzzing. I just get excited when I see this.”
If Jimmermania swept the town in 2007, then Joemania is the second coming. Girard III won the team’s first state basketball title last weekend in Binghamton and also quarterbacked the football team to its only two states titles.
It’s like lightning struck Glens Falls twice.
“In a school our size, to produce two of the top high school players in New York State history and to have the resumes that both of those players have, it’s remarkable,” said Glens Falls athletic director Chip Corlew, in his 15th year.
Girard III’s high school career comes to a close on Sunday in the final basketball game in the state this season. As fans rushed the box office for tickets immediately following Saturday’s win, Girard III’s father, Joe Girard Jr., put it into perspective.
“To see over 6,000 people come out means he’s doing something special,” he said.
The Mr. New York Basketball recipient for the 2018-19 season has one last chance to leave his mark on Cool Insuring Arena, which will see Fordham University host the Federation tournament from 2020-22. He’s already left his mark on the town of Glens Falls.
“You couldn’t have written a better script, right?” Corlew said. “Having this team come back to this tournament in its last year here, being able to play in front of the people who have supported him through the years, with this stage sold out? Surreal.”
The top 10 scorers in state history, according to the 2019 boys federation tournament program:
Player School Years Total
1. Joe Girard III Glens Falls 2014- *4,678
2. Lance Stephenson** Brooklyn Lincoln 2004-09 2,946
3. Miles Brown Northstar Christian 2015-19 2,916
4. Ryan Creighton Greenport 2004-09 2,799
5. Sebastian Telfair** Brooklyn Lincoln 2000-04 2,785
6. Kobe Lufkin Argyle 2012-17 2,678
7. DeVonte Green N. Babylon, St. Mary's, OSNA, LuHi 2009-16 2,663
8. Kenny Anderson** Archbishop Molloy 1985-89 2,621
9. Joel Wincowski Lake George 2010-15 2,615
10 Ken Wood East Hampton 1985-89 2,613
*Saturday's game not included; ** Played in NBA