It's 6:20 p.m. last Thursday. I've arrived in Schuylerville with a camera slung over my shoulder. The camera is really just an excuse to be here.
The JV game is still in the first quarter and the gym is almost full. JV players never saw crowds like this until Glens Falls' Joseph Girard III started cluttering up scorebooks.
Across the hall, the auditorium is open with a TV feed from the basketball game, because they know they won't fit everybody into the bleachers. I eventually chose the auditorium. I don't want to crane my neck from the corner of the gym, and besides, I can't justify taking a seat from a paying customer who really wants to see this.
So here I am on my day off, sitting in an auditorium, watching a high school basketball game on a giant screen. But I have to see this. I have to see how a high school player can average close to 50 points a game and chase down the Section II all-time scoring record halfway through his junior year.
I am an old-fashioned sportswriter and I never cheer or root, but I cannot stop the "oh!" that escapes my throat when Girard hits a 3 from the volleyball attack line, which is not far from the big "S" at center court. Or the trey he hits as he's falling out of bounds in the corner.
Girard ends up with exactly 50 points and the scoring record. I made it onto the court in a feeble attempt to get a photo of the game ball presentation, arriving just in time to see him chuck the ball up to his father (whom I wrote about when he played at St. Mary's, and yes, that does make me feel very old).
Girard is a somewhat difficult proposition for me as a sports editor. We spend a lot of time and space writing about him, and I'm concerned about putting any high school athlete on the front page day after day. The problem is, just about every time he steps on the court, something newsworthy happens.
After Thursday's game I thought to myself "let's leave him alone for a while." The next night he put up 59. Granted, it came against 3-8 Broadalbin-Perth, but do we want to treat 59 points — against anybody — as so commonplace that it doesn't get a headline?
I keep waiting to get the all-you-do-is-write-about-Girard email or phone call, but it hasn't come. I think people understand there's something happening here that transcends the normal high school sports scene.
People are clearly interested in this. We get calls asking how many points Girard scored, or when he's playing next, and they are often from outside of Glens Falls. We can measure numbers on our website, and anytime the smallest bit of news about Girard hits the page, the ticker goes up.
I swear, we could post a story about him buying a ham sandwich and 500 people would read it within the hour.
Years ago something like this happened when Jimmer Fredette was leading the way for Glens Falls. People couldn't get enough information about him. Jimmer went on to BYU and beyond, and I figured, well, that's as close as we'll get to having a Jonathan E type of athlete around here.
But there's just as much of a buzz about Girard as there was about Jimmer. Maybe more.
If you want to chew over some numbers, there are lots to look through. Some of the national scoring records are pretty ridiculous, partly because some other states used to play a lot more games than they do in New York. Greg Procell of Louisiana set the career scoring mark of 6,702 five decades ago. How someone could pile up that many points before the era of the 3-point line is beyond me.
Many of the state records, however, are already within range. Barring injury, Girard will likely surpass the state public high school and overall scoring records before the season is over. And he's got a whole nother season after that. He could end up well over 4,000 points for his high school career.
Records are made to be broken, but if Girard keeps up the pace, the next superstar is going to have an awfully long climb to the top.
Contact Sports Editor Greg Brownell at firstname.lastname@example.org.