He used to be “that free-throw-shooting kid.”
Joseph Girard III gained national recognition back in April 2012 when, as an 11-year-old, he made 25 of 25 free throws to win the Elks National Hoop Shoot.
And on Sunday, in a sport with a round ball, it came full circle.
Girard made 19 of 20 foul shots as part of his game-high 43 points in Glens Falls’ 88-79 win over Cardinal O’Hara in the Class B boys final of the Federation Tournament of Champions.
For a young man who started his climb to fame with a plaque in the Basketball Hall of Fame for his foul-shooting prowess, he ended his high school career with his name in even more record books.
Girard’s 19 foul shots tied Stillwater’s Jon Mueller (1988) and Watervliet’s Todd Birmingham (1991) — Section II gets it done at the line — for the most in a single game of the tournament. He set a new tournament two-game mark with 30, breaking Mueller’s mark of 28. Over two days, — two days that decades from now people will say ‘I was there for’ —Girard went 30 of 33 from the line. No matter how you grade, 91 percent is an A.
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And he said he did it on a bum ankle.
“I felt the best way for me to get the ball to the hoop was just to push through and get to the hoop a little bit in order to get fouls and get to the line because that’s what my MO’s been for my whole career since I was 10, 11 years old,” Girard said.
In working with his son over the years, Joseph Girard Jr. made sure to help develop JG3’s overall game, but there was a calculated reason it started 15 feet away behind a horizontal line.
“Why that contest was so important was, as we can see, he’s won a lot of games with free-throw shooting,” Girard Jr. said. “So it wasn’t a gimmick contest that the Elks had. It’s something he could apply through high school, college and then the professional level. You build off that and then you get everything else that goes around it.”
Girard III has been taking 300 foul shots a day since he was 9 years old. So while New York state’s all-time leading scorer proved he can beat you a whole lot of ways, there’s a reason that some of the highest vertical leaps you saw in his high school career were from opposing coaches the moment he got fouled.
“It helps him in life in general, when life hits him later on, he’s able to handle adversity and handle stressful situations,” Girard Jr. said. “That’s why the Elks and what they do, and athletics in general, just helps people compete later in life when the going gets tough.”