BINGHAMTON — For the Glens Falls boys basketball team to get something they’ve never had, they were going to have to do something they’ve never done.
Joseph Girard III and the Indians are new to the State Boys Basketball Tournament. As a senior, Girard and most of his teammates will never get an opportunity to come back.
Combine an undeniable desire for a ring with the urgency of a last dance and the product is JG3, jogging at mid-court, arms raised high as his fourth first-quarter 3-pointer kissed net.
As Glens Falls’ fan section rose in excitement, Girard III solidified his spot on the grand stage inside the arena Friday morning during the tournament’s opening Class B state semifinal.
Until somebody stops him, this is his weekend.
Nearly registering a triple-double, JG3 scored 39 points, pulled down 13 rebounds and dished nine assists in an 83-63 victory over top-ranked Olean, advancing to the state championship Saturday (5:15 p.m.) for a shot at the school’s first boys basketball state title.
“That is the ultimate goal each year, to win a state title,” Girard III said. “I am really excited for the opportunity to do so, along with the rest of my guys, coaches and as you saw, the rest of the community came out to support us. Today we had school, but (Saturday) I think there will be even more of G.F. nation here.”
Glens Falls’ opponent Saturday night is a 26-win Lowville team that won its state semifinal by 12 points as JG3 and the Indians watched from the stands, scouting their final opponent. The winner of the title game earns a spot in the state Federation tournament next weekend in Glens Falls.
An hour before his state semifinal, it was announced Girard III was named Gatorade’s New York State Player of the Year for a second consecutive season.
But Mr. Basketball came to Binghamton to capture the only accolade that’s eluded him. His 16 first-quarter points made it clear from the jump: delivering his city its the boys basketball crown is his lone desire.
“I knew I had to get out to a hot start in order to give us the best chance to win the game,” Girard III said. “Thankfully that happened, but it starts in practice. Usually, when we have good practices, we have good games. I felt good in the shootaround the other day and when I came out here it was go time.”
Holding a 15-point lead at half, the Indians (26-1) never entertained an Olean rally.
Though Girard shot four of 13 in the second half, Glens Falls as a team didn’t slow.
The previously undefeated Huskies are known for their defense, allowing fewer than 50 points per game all year. But center Nick Danahy and senior Trent Girard rose to the occasion.
Danahy scored 16 points on seven of eight shooting and secured seven rebounds. Twice in the third, Olean defenders were caught gazing at Girard III, who slashed the Huskies with no-look passes inside to Danahy.
Not every bucket was easy, however. While Olean cut into its double-digit fourth-quarter deficit, the junior big man spun away from two defenders and finished off glass and through contact.
Such grit embodies the game he had down low. And it was a performance the Indians coaching staff and players knew Danahy had in him.
“Nick was focused and he is a really skilled player when he wants to be there,” Girard III said. “He has shown flashes and dominated games here and there but if we are going to win a state title, he’ll have to do it again tomorrow but thankfully he did it today.”
There were a few low points in the third quarter for Glens Falls. Up 12, Olean came within nine points as shots were dropping and the Indians made a few careless turnovers.
But right when the Huskies thought they were back, Trent Girard rattled off five quick points, on a triple followed by a finger-roll layup, to lift Glens Falls back to comfort.
“These kids, who have been doing it all year long, can grind it out and do the dirty work, we are tough to beat,” Rob Girard said. “When Nick can score 16 and Trent adds 12 then David (Barclay) scores eight and the rebounds Kyle (Vachon) had were big. That is a team effort. Joseph scored 39 and the other guys were even better.”
Glens Falls watched every second of Lowville’s win on Friday. Most of the Indians took a bird’s eye view from the stands while JG3 sought a closer courtside look.
Other than signing a few autographs, there were few distractions as Girard III’s focus never broke off his upcoming opponent.
Lowville is the final obstacle in the way of completing a storybook finish, 18 years in the making.
JG3, the young man who has accomplished nearly everything, is still missing the one ring he craves most.
“This is something we live for,” Girard III said. “I told the team that before the game. We are from Glens Falls. We are tough and we are all about it, baby. When it comes to the big games that is what we love playing in.”