AMSTERDAM — There is a new New York state high school boys scoring leader.
Glens Falls junior Joe Girard III converted on the first of two free throws with 1:41 remaining in the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s Foothills Council game against Amsterdam to score his 2,947 career point and take to top spot away from Lincoln High standout and current Indiana Pacers forward Lance Stephenson.
“It is great but what makes it even better is winning,” Girard said. “In my time at Glens Falls, we have had great teams and have won a lot of games. So that makes it even better. If I was out here on a 2-14 team instead of a 14-2 teams it wouldn’t mean as much. But winning the games makes it even better.”
Girard finished the night with 44 points to take his career scoring total to 2,952 and help the Indians take a commanding lead in the Foothills Council standing with a 74-68 victory over the Running Rams.
“Since we came in here and won a really big game against Amsterdam and it was a great game, and it kind of sealed the victory, it makes it even better,” Girard said of his performance. “I am just proud of these guys who have helped me out and given me the support. I definitely couldn’t do it without them.”
Glens Falls (14-2 overall, 12-2 Foothills) broke out to a quick 4-0 lead on baskets from Nick Danahy and David Barclay before Louis Fedullo finished off a pass from Willie Brown to get the Running Rams on the board.
Girard put up his first points of the night at the 1:36 mark of the game with a three-point play and followed with a drive to the basket to help build a 9-4 lead.
Amsterdam ((12-4 overall, 11-3 Foothills) battled back with its strong inside game led by Fedullo and Ozzy DeJesus to take an 11-9 lead with just under two minutes left in the opening quarter. Girard and Trenton Girard combined for eight unanswered points to give the Indians’ a 17-11 lead at the end of the quarter.
Girard III opened the second quarter with back-to-back 3-pointers sandwiched around a 3-pointer from DeJesus to take the Glens Falls lead to 23-14.
The Rams did not go away and battled back to trim the lead to three points, 30-27, on a pair of free throws from Fedullo.
Girard answered with a pair of baskets to push his first-half scoring to 24 points and help Glens Falls carry a 34-30 lead into the locker room at the break.
DeJesus opened the second half with six unanswered points to give Amsterdam a 36-34 lead before Girard responded with a pair of baskets to grab the lead back, 38-36.
The Rams stayed within a two possession margin before Trenton Girard hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give Glens Falls a 48-41 lead heading into the final eight minutes of play.
DeJesus and Trenton Girard exchanged baskets early in the final stanza before Girard III went on an 8-0 run for the Indians to open a 58-47 advantage.
JG3 moved into a tie for the record with 3:52 left in the game, sinking a pair of free throws to put the Indians up 62-53.
The junior standout stayed at that point until drawing a foul from Fedullo on a drive to the hoop with 1:41 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Girard took a breath and sank the first shot to put his career total at 2,947 and followed with a second successful free throw to give the Indians a 66-60 lead.
The game was stopped briefly to honor Girard’s accomplishment.
“I saw everybody start standing up and taking out their phones so I had a little hint that something had to be going on right then,” Girard said. “I didn’t know if they were just excited about getting a six-point lead or what. When I was at the line I just blocked it all out and focused like I do in practice. Luckily, I made it.”
The Running Rams could not get closer than five points over the closing minute as Glens Falls closed out the 74-68 victory to gain control of the top of the Foothills council standings.
“The record was just something that happened on this night,” Amsterdam coach tim Jones said. “How many games has he scored 40 points this year? Oh wait, them all. So realistically we did what we wanted to do and collectively, as a group, we had a couple of opportunities where we could have done something different but our game plan was there. We just didn’t execute it well at times.”
DeJesus led Amsterdam with his career-high 30 points, while Brown finished with 15 and Fedullo has 12 points for Amsterdam.
Girard III delivered five 3-pointers in his game-high 44 point performance, while Trenton Girard added 13 points and David Barclay chipped in with seven.
Girard remembered his first varsity game as an eighth-grader against the Fonda-Fultonville Braves. The Indians won 68-65 on his 3-pointer at the buzzer that he ended up on the floor after shooting.
“I scored 31 points that day and hit the game-winning 3-pointer, Who knew it would lead to this,” he said. “I have to thank coach Tony Hammel for have the faith in me to bring me up to varsity as a eighth-grader and start this journey.”
Glens Falls will enjoy home cooking the rest of the season as the Indians look to avenge one of their two league losses this year when they host Scotia-Glenville at 6:15 p.m. Saturday at the Glens Falls Civic Center. They close out the regular season with home games against Queensbury, Schuylerville and South Glens Falls.
Amsterdam will take to the road Friday to play Hudson Falls before travelling to Scotia-Glenville on Tuesday and returning home next Friday to play Queensbury. The Running Rams close out their regular season on Feb. 13 at Schuylerville.
Glens Falls 74, Amsterdam 68
Glens Falls 17 17 14 26 — 74
Amsterdam 11 19 11 27 — 68
Barclay 3-1-7, Danahy 3-0-6, Q. Girard 0-2-2, T. Girard 6-0-13, J. Girard III 16-7-44, Quirk 1-0-2. Totals: 29-10-74.
Brennan 2-0-4, Brown 6-2-15, Colon 1-5-7, DeJesus 13-3-30, Fedullo 4-4-12. Totals: 26-14-68.
3-point goals: Glens Falls 6 (Joe Girard III 5, Trenton Girard); Amsterdam 2 (Willie Brown, Ozzy DeJesus).