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Glens Falls, Girard III chasing state basketball title

Glens Falls, Girard III chasing state basketball title

State title missing from star guard's resume
Glens Falls, Girard III chasing state basketball title
Glens Falls senior Joseph Girard III wants a state basketball title to go with his state football championships.
Photographer: PETER R. BARBER

GLENS FALLS — They've combined for 50 wins and occupy the top two spots in the New York Class B rankings. Some are predicting an all-time state final four classic when the boys' basketball teams from Glens Falls and Olean meet Friday morning in a semifinal clash at Floyd L. Maines Arena in Binghamton.

"They're undefeated. We're undefeated in New York. Let's hope it lives up to the hype," Glens Falls senior guard Joseph Girard III said. "More important, let's hope it goes our way."

If it doesn't, that will be it for the state's all-time scoring leader who has already won on every high school stage, but this one. Last week, Girard III averaged 44 points in a two-game regional sweep to hoist Glens Falls to a level it hasn't reached in years, and to keep alive his dream. He's got two state football championships in one back pocket, while the other, that's still empty.

"It's time for the playoffs," Girard III said Tuesday, the day he was named Mr. New York Basketball. "Time to buckle down and do what you have to do."

Glens Falls (25-1) and Olean (Section VI, 25-0) play Friday at 9:30 a.m., and Center Moriches (Section XI, 20-5) meets Lowville (Section III, 20-2) at 11:15 a.m. in the other Class B semifinal. Saturday's title game is set for 5:15 p.m.

"They [Olean] are a great team," Girard III said. "We know we've got to remain focused. We know we've got to play our best."

Olean is the state's No. 1, and has won all of its games by double digits. Olean held its 21st opponent under 50 points in a 61-47 regional win against Greece Odyssey.

"They've got seven guys in their rotation that have all played together forever," Girard III said. "We've got eight seniors who have played together since we were in second grade. We have to be mentally and physically tough. We have to play our game, like we have the last six games."

Glens Falls' game is lots of points from Girard III, who is averaging 49.3 per outing, timely baskets from others like Nick Danahy, David Barclay, Kyle Vachon and Trent Girard, and a collective rebounding and defensive effort.

"A lot of times, our offense shows, but at some point, you've got to stop the other team more than they stop you," Girard III said. "We've got pride in our defense."

That, Glens Falls coach Rob Girard said, could be the ticket to a state championship.

"We have been really good on defense the last six or seven games," he said. "We can score. We can't allow teams to score on us. We've taken 25 charges the last four or five games."

"We can't take any plays off," Trent Girard said. "You're not always going to get these chances."

Glens Falls buckled down defensively in a key 20-8 second-quarter run when it beat Ogdensburg Free Academy 84-76 in its regional final Saturday, when Girard III delivered 46 points to boost his career total to 4,589, Trent Girard contributed 10 and Danahy added nine.

Joseph Girard III and Trent Girard are the lone holdovers from the 2017 Glens Falls edition that lost to Canton in a regional-round upset. Glens Falls' bid to get out of Section II ended last year with a semifinal loss to Schalmont.

"Two years ago, obviously we wanted to win it all, but the cards didn't fall right," Girard III said of the loss to Canton, a team it had beaten earlier that season. "It's a lot like football, when we lost in the 2017 [state] semifinals and wanted to get back."

They did get back to the state football title game last fall, when Girard III and a bunch of his basketball teammates joined for the program's second state championship in three years. Glens Falls had never won a state football title before. Now, it's a state basketball flag the Indians are going after again. Jimmer Fredette's 2007 edition reached a state final, and Mike Van Schaick's 2003 group did, too, yet neither prevailed.

Mekeel Christian Academy secured the state Class B title last year.

"We've had a great year, and we're striving for better," Rob Girard said. "If we're loose and execute, we've got a real good chance."

A two-game sweep in Binghamton will get Glens Falls back to Cool Insuring Arena, where it claimed the Section II title, and where the New York Federation Tournament of Champions will be held March 22-24.

Also on Friday, Troy (21-4) plays Pittsford-Mendon (Section V, 25-0) in a Class A semifinal at 1:15 p.m. On Saturday, defending state Class C champion Lake George (26-0) and its 54-game win streak will take on Middle Early College (Section VI, 21-4) in a 9 a.m. semifinal. Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville (21-3) has a 12:45 p.m. Class D semifinal with Panama (Section VI, 18-6) on Saturday.

Reach Gazette Sportswriter Jim Schiltz at 518-395-3143, [email protected] or @jim_schiltz on Twitter.

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