GLENS FALLS — In New York high school boys’ basketball, no player has ever scored 3,000 career points.
As long as he stays healthy, Joseph Girard III is going to accomplish that with ease before the junior’s career is finished at Glens Falls.
But, hey, Joe ... do you ever think about whether it’s possible to score 4,000 career points? Does that motivate you?
“Yeah, it definitely does,” Girard III said. “But the one thing I know about that is ... a lot of these individual goals come along with winning. If we win, the points will come because I get to play more games. You can’t score any points if you’re not playing games.”
Girard III starts his junior season of basketball Friday at Broadalbin-Perth. The sharp-shooting guard with plenty of Division I offers — and a bunch for football, too — enters the 2017-18 campaign with 2,157 career points after three varsity seasons.
On average, he’s scored 719 points per season.
Give him that many points for two more seasons, and Girard III lands at 3,595 career points — well shy of 4,000.
But, right, Girard III averaged 36.4 points last season during a campaign in which he totaled 910 points.
Give him that total two more times, and Girard III finishes at 3,977 points — still a bit shy of 4,000.
Even that second total, though, assumes that Girard III’s scoring peaked as a sophomore and Glens Falls won’t win enough games to help him pad his total. Last season, Glens Falls played 25 games and lost out on playing several games — and perhaps another 100 to 200 Girard III points — when it was eliminated in its first state playoff game.
Jim Giammattei — who coached for the last few years against Girard III at Scotia-Glenville — expects Girard III’s scoring average to stay the same or increase from the standard he set as a sophomore. Giammattei, who left his post as Scotia’s head coach this past summer, also expects Glens Falls to win enough games these next two postseasons to help Girard III get the games he needs to score 4,000.
“He’s going to be at 3,000 points this season. That’s very, very, very doable for him — and I’m on board with 4,000 for him, with the caveat he needs to have the postseasons,” Giammattei said.
Giammattei coached one of the Section II legends Girard III is likely to pass on the area’s all-time scoring list Friday. Joe Cremo — now a junior at University at Albany — scored 2,159 points during his high school career. After that first basket Friday pushes Girard III to Cremo’s level, next up for Girard III within the area’s basketball history are Talor Battle (2,162), his father Joe Girard Jr. (2,179) and Tony Traver (2,189).
(Girard III said he was unaware of any players he’s about to pass, “except for one person.” That’s dad, who Girard III plans to “let know about it for a night or two” after he surpasses him.)
For most high school basketball players, scoring 1,000 points is the benchmark to chase. Scoring 2,000 is reserved for the most elite of high school scorers in New York — and Girard III appears set to start his own 3,000-point club.
“It is crazy. I thought 2,000 was a lot,” Battle, now playing professionally in Slovenia, wrote in an email. “But I mean he’s passing me to start his junior season. And that means shortly thereafter he will pass that other pretty good basketball player that went to Glens Falls. I think his name is Jimmer?”
Yes, that’s Jimmer Fredette, who finished with 2,404 points and is third on the area’s all-time scoring list behind Joel Wincowski’s 2,615 and Kobe Lufkin’s 2,678.
Girard III could — and should — pass each of those three players this season.
“It’s unfathomable. It really is unfathomable,” Giammattei said. “That speaks to what kind of talent he is. He’s just really that good. Barring injury, he’s going to be the all-time leading scorer in New York — it’s just by how many.”
Lance Stephenson, now playing for the Indiana Pacers, owns the New York high school career scoring record with 2,946 points. Girard III has seemingly been on track to pass Stephenson since his first game, back when he scored 31 points and hit a game-winning 3-pointer against Fonda-Fultonville as an eighth-grader.
“So I’d like to take some credit for him,” Fonda head coach Eric Wilson said. “We got his confidence rolling and got him going.”
Wilson’s Braves played Girard III twice when he was an eighth-grader. In each of the following two seasons, Wilson said he’s seen marked improvement in Girard III’s game. Wilson counts himself as another believer in that Girard III will flirt with 4,000 career points.
“In my opinion, if he stays healthy, he’s only getting better. This kid is a gym rat and everybody knows his work ethic,” Wilson said. “If he stays healthy, it’s absolutely within reach for him. He’s that good — and he’s only getting better.”
Outside of New York, there have been high school players to score more than 4,000 points in a career. Louisiana’s Greg Procell scored 6,702 career points, which is believed to be the most ever for a high school boys’ basketball player in the country.
But Procell’s senior season — played decades ago — is a prime example of why it’s so difficult for a high school hoops player to score thousands of points. Procell scored 3,173 of his points in his final high school season, which included 68 games.
Girard’s schedule this season guarantees 20 games before the postseason comes around. Winning playoff games, he said, is his real goal — not scoring points.
“It’s all about winning in Glens Falls,” said Girard III, who led the school’s football team to a state title last season and an appearance in the state semifinals this fall.
But Girard III is diplomatic. If him scoring another couple thousand points leads to a couple of state championships, he’ll take that deal.
“If I have to score a lot, I’ll do it,” Girard III said. “It’s just about whatever it takes to win games.”