He drove to the basket with more force and speed, and his elevation on those jump shots was higher and more explosive.
Joe Girard III played a different looking game this season, and the results it turns out were different, too.
“That was the number one thing. He was bigger and stronger,” Glens Falls coach Rob Girard said of the 6-foot-1 sophomore guard. “When he wasn’t shooting great, he’d go inside and get his points on the drive or by getting fouled and going to the line.”
Girard III found a way to pile up more points and got the championship that eluded Glens Falls last season, too. The Daily Gazette All-Area first-team repeater is joined by another one in Albany Academy senior Hameir Wright, the Suburban Council’s top player in 11th-grader Isaiah Moll, and seniors Tyrone Jenkins and John Ryals, who led Schenectady back to the Section II final four after years of frustrating postseason finishes.
“I saw those two kids play when they beat Saratoga,” Scotia-Glenville coach Jim Giammattei said of the Schenectady team captains. “It was crazy how good they were.”
Girard III put up some crazy numbers in his third varsity season, scoring 910 points to top the 813 he generated as a freshman when he landed a spot on the all-state Class B first team. He drained 122 3-point baskets to equal his 2015-16 total, and tied his own school record with 10 of them in a game.
“He would get his 32, 33 points, but he was also part of the other 46 points passing the ball, rebounding, pushing the ball,” coach Girard said of his second cousin. “He did so many things. He averaged seven assists, seven or eight rebounds and probably three steals per game.”
Winning games is all Girard III and several of his schoolmates did before an 87-63 regional loss to Canton. Girard III quarterbacked his football team to a state championship and a 13-0 record in the fall, and a week later his Indians began what would end up as a 24-game win streak capped by a 60-55 triumph against Mekeel Christian Academy in the Section II Class B basketball final.
“He refused to lose,” coach Girard said of the two-time Foothills Council most valuable player. “That’s why we had such a good season. He had that attitude, and the other guys fed into it.”
Girard III scored 34 points against Mekeel, and delivered 42 in a 77-55 semifinal victory over Ichabod Crane with nine 3-point baskets. Glens Falls trailed in that game at the half 34-31, and Girard III sparked a 23-12 third-quarter run with five of those nine 3s.
“I am not a big fan of losing,” Girard III, the Class B tournament MVP, said after the semifinal game where he added three assists, three steals and four rebounds. “That’s what it came down to.”
Girard III also connected for eight 3s in a game, and had three outings with seven 3s. His high point totals were 44, 42, 41 three times, 40 and 39 four times.
“No doubt his elevation was better on the jumper,” coach Girard said. “It was quicker, too, like a spring. That was the result of working on it in the spring and summer. He’s always looking to make his game better.”
Girard III averaged 36.4 points this season and boosted his varsity points total to 2,157 for the No. 9 spot on the all-time Section II list. Just ahead of the Division I college prospect is Scotia-Glenville graduate Joe Cremo (2,159), while further up the ladder is his dad Joe (2,179), who played at St. Mary’s and Shenendehowa, Glens Falls record-holder Jimmer Fredette (2,404), and Argyle’s Kobe Lufkin, who finished this season at the top of the chart (2,678).
“Some of the things he does, it’s amazing,” coach Girard said.
Girard III set a Glens Falls record with 52 points last season in a win against Amsterdam. His low this season was 21 two games in against Schuylerville, and he followed with 38 against Hudson Falls when he went 18-for-18 from the line. Two games after that he struck for 41 against South Glens Falls when he sank the 10 3-point baskets.
HAMEIR WRIGHT (ALBANY ACADEMY)
Wright can be called a lot of things, but at the top of the list is champion.
“He plays his best when the lights are the brightest,” Albany Academy coach Brian Fruscio said of his 6-foot-8 senior forward, who Sunday led his team to a second straight New York Federation Tournament of Champions Class A title. “He’s a gamer. He’s special.”
He’s versatile, too, excelling throughout his stay at Academy as an offensive threat and a fierce defender along the Cadets’ back line. His play there was key in Sunday’s 76-46 blistering of Walton when he took home his second Federation MVP award.
“They [Walton] drove it on everyone they played,” Fruscio said. “We didn’t let them drive.”
Wright posted his ninth double-double in that contest with 16 points and 11 rebounds to go with four assists. In Academy’s 54-45 semifinal win against Irondequoit — the state’s No. 1 team — the Cadets captain had 22 points and nine rebounds.
“He blocks shots and changes shots,” Fruscio said. “He rebounds the hell out of it. He scores inside and outside. He can handle. There’s just a lot of good things to his game.”
The Gatorade Boys’ Basketball Player of the Year for New York averaged 16.9 points, 9.1 rebounds, 3.0 assists and a shade under two blocks for the 17-5 Cadets. He scored a season-high 32 points in a win against Green Tech and delivered at least 11 points in all but one game. In one of those, against Desert Visa of Arizona, he nailed five of his 21 3-point baskets.
“The Gatorade award was big because it’s not just basketball,” Fruscio said. “They look at transcripts. Community service. There’s an application process. They look at the whole student-athlete.”
Wright will be attending Brewster Academy in New Hampshire next school year and reclassify into the 2018 class. Fruscio said Maryland — where Shenendehowa grad Kevin Huerter just completed his freshman season — Syracuse, Villanova and Michigan State are among the many Division I colleges that have expressed interest in the Albany resident. He is the No. 27 recruit in the 2018 ESPN Top 100.
“He has all aspects of the game covered,” Fruscio said of the AAU Albany City Rocks standout. “What he needs to do now is build strength. Where he’s going and after that, there are no off days, and that will be an adjustment.”
ISAIAH MOLL (COLONIE)
Colonie coach Ken Dagostino said the inside part of his team’s inside-outside game was real good with Division I college prospect Moll as the centerpiece. The veteran coach expects next season to be so much better.
“He really is just getting going,” Dagostino said of his sturdy 6-foot-7, 230-pound junior forward. “His potential is unlimited.”
Moll averaged of 15.3 points, 9.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists in leading the Garnet Raiders (19-4) to the Suburban Council overall title and their first Section II title-game appearance since 2000. In the game that got Colonie there, a 72-61 semifinal win over Schenectady, Moll had 21 points, eight rebounds and four assists.
“He can score inside and outside,” Dagostino said. “He can shoot the three. He can rebound well. Defense, same thing. He’s very active. He’s exciting to watch.”
Moll is also an excellent passer, but Dagostino wouldn’t mind if the Suburban Council Player of the Year holds onto the ball more often down low and finishes instead of looking for a teammate.
“He’s very unselfish, but with the skill set he has, he has to realize what he can do next year,” Dagostino said. “Once he realizes he’s a college player, he could be something really special.”
Moll anchored his team during a 14-game win streak that propelled Colonie to the Class AA final. There, the tournament all-star scored 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in a 57-45 loss to Bethlehem.
“He was a good leader for us,” Dagostino said. “He had good suggestions. He was positive. He got better at being a good teammate on and off the court.”
On the court, despite his willingness to pass off, Moll registered 21 double-digit scoring games with as many as 25 twice and 24 in another outing. Each of those games was a win for Colonie.
“He’s got such strong offensive moves,” Dagostino said. “As the season went on we tried to go a little more inside-outside. We wanted him to finish.”
Moll has received scholarship offers from Siena College and the University at Albany.
TYRONE JENKINS, JOHN RYALS (SCHENECTADY)
Like guards, they handled the basketball, found open teammates and knocked down 3-point baskets. Like forwards, they rebounded, blocked shots and threw down slam dunks.
“They played every position. One, two, three, four and five,” coach Eric Loudis said of Schenectady seniors Jenkins and Ryals, who, with their many gifts, led the Patriots to their finest season in over a decade. “They did what was needed. They just wanted to win. That was the big thing.”
The team captains displayed that desire in the offseason with a slew of shots, and the payoff over 23 games was a 17.6 average for Ryals and a 16.9 average for Jenkins, and 17 wins for Schenectady with a division championship and its Section II Class AA final four spot.
“They both improved their average by 10 points. That’s a huge feat for anyone at any level,” Loudis said. “They worked so damn hard in the offseason to get better. I told them we were going to need them to score, and they took two to three thousand shots every day, That doesn’t include free throws and shooting on their own.”
Ryals had games with 32, 30 and 27 points, and reached double figures 21 times including a 23-point effort when the Patriots beat Saratotga 68-51 to earn their first sectional semifinal berth since 2006. The 6-foot-4 Ryals, a second-team Suburban Council all-star, also snared 15 rebounds in that quarterfinal breakthrough.
“They rebounded. They blocked shots,” Loudis said. “They had to play bigger than they were.”
Projected to play shooting guard at the collegiate level, both 12th-graders collected 15 points and nine rebounds when Schenectady beat CBA 60-53 in the first round of the sectionals. Schenectady also beat CBA in league play 69-68 when Ryals’ 27 points included a winning three-point play in the waning seconds.
“We played in a tough division with no easy nights,” Loudis said. “They earned what they got this year.”
They gave defending teams plenty to worry about with their ability to do damage inside and out. Ryals finished with 31 3-point baskets and Jenkins nailed 30 of them.
“John went one for 10 as a junior on threes,” Loudis noted. “We needed him to step up and he did.”
The 6-foot-6 Jenkins did, as well, with 19 double-figure scoring outings topped by games with 30, 28 and 26 points. He scored 10 points or more 10 times as a junior, and Ryals did it six times.
“He’s a very dynamic presence on the court,” Loudis said of Jenkins, a first-team Suburban Council all-star and Class AA all-tournament team selection. “He’s one of the best dunkers I’ve seen in high school. He probably had 12 or 13 of them. He can really finish.”
College of St. Joseph in Vermont has expressed serious interest in the tandem who combined for 48 points in the Suburban Council‘s exceptional seniors game.
“They were captains for a reason,” Loudis said. “They were very important in our success. They spoke up and kept our team together. On the court they were all-around players. After our first couple of games opposing coaches would ask me, ‘Where did they come from?’ ”
Joe Girard III, Glens Falls, 10, 36.4.
Isaiah Moll, Colonie, 11, 15.3.
Hameir Wright, Albany Academy, 12, 16.9.
Tyrone Jenkins, Schenectady, 12, 16.9.
John Ryals, Schenectady, 12, 17.6.
Deonte Holder, Mekeel, 11, 20.6.
Carter Stewart, Mekeel, 11, 18.5.
Christian Corker, Scotia, 11, 20.5.
Daniel Buie, Troy, 11, 21.8.
Adam Anderson, Saratoga Springs, 12, 20.8.
Sloan Seymour, Shaker, 11, 19.1.
Davonte Jones, Lansingburgh, 12, 15.8.
Preston Taylor, Boadalbin-Perth, 12, 17.5.
Hayden Thompson, Bethlehem, 12, 16.7.
Zyir Beverly, Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons, 11, 26.8.
SUBURBAN COUNCIL — Hamani Gaddy (Albany); Anthony Germanerio, Noah Yearsley (Averill Park); Ryan Murray, Michael Ortale, Matt Riker (Bethlehem); Ben Keppler (BH-BL); Bryce Waterman, Brendan Mulson (Colonie); Brandon Kruzinski, Duncan Tallman (Mohonasen), Brian Hart (Saratoga); Cameron Coles (Schenectady); Jake Cook (Shaker); Mike Pizziketti (Shenendehowa); Ryan Carmello (Troy).
FOOTHILLS COUNCIL — Anthony Aponte, Dale Stanavich (Amsterdam): Joey Ladipo (Broadalbin-Perth); Tony Green (Glens Falls); Dante Bouchard, Josh Nails (Gloversville); Cam Jett (Hudson Falls); Matt Boyle, Ben Wager (Johnstown); Devin O’Leary (Queensbury); Stratton Sherman (Schuylerville); Sean DeGraffenreid, Trevor Martin (Scotia-Glenville).
COLONIAL COUNCIL — Marquis Alston (Cohoes); Peter Volkmann, Joe Werner (Ichabod Crane); Jahidi Wallace, Anthony Kempster (Lansingburgh); Joe DeLollo, Ray Evans (LaSalle); Sky Rebeor (Ravena); Troy Moran (Schalmont); Matt Bernhard, Sean Nolan (Voorheesville); Joey Atkins (Watervliet).
WESTERN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE — Slade Pulliam (Berne-Knox-Westerlo); Mike Hartlieb (Canajoharie); Jared Hulbert (Duanesburg); Dan Parslow (Fonda-Fultonville); Thor White (Galway); Trevon Gifford (Mayfield); Oscar Iteji, Jordan Jackson (Mekeel); Peyton Olsen (Middleburgh); Danny Reidell (Northville); Armoni Poole (Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons); A.J. Hayes, Devyn Jones (OESJ); Steve Alescio, Mitch Barton (Schoharie).
WASAREN LEAGUE — Brenden Holcomb, Shawn Lemieux (Cambridge); Guy Milliman, Alex Haynes, Evan McCart (Hoosick Falls); Isaac Sanchez (Hoosic Valley); Connor Farrington, Terel Tillman (Saratoga Central Catholic); Jared D’Aloia, Zack Travis (Stillwater); Kyle Fairclough (Waterford-Halfmoon).
OTHER — Will Bennett, August Mahoney, C.J. Mulvey (Albany Academy); Andre Smith, Taevon Wallace (Bishop Maginn); Marcus Friend, Tobias Holmes (Green Tech); Adam Speno (Loudonville Christian).