BINGHAMTON — It was a dream start for the Glens Falls boys' basketball team, and now the Indians are a win away from fulfilling another, even bigger, one.
Senior Joseph Girard III scored 18 of his 39 points in a first-quarter spree, and Glens Falls was never threatened afterward in an 83-63 Class B state semifinal win over Olean Friday at Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena.
Girard III was named the Gatorade New York Player of the Year for the second time just before the state's top-ranked teams took the court, and the senior guard made an immediate impact with four 3-point baskets, a runner, a layup and two foul shots to help the Indians (26-1) race to a 20-6 advantage.
"Thirty-nine for his standards isn't great, but in that first quarter, he was great," Glens Falls coach Rob Girard said.
The 39 points were a postseason low for the state's career scoring leader who was 12 of 31 from the field, but he got ample support from his supporting cast as Glens Falls knocked off the the state's No. 1 team while dealing Olean (Section VI, 25-1) its first defeat.
Nick Danahy scored 11 of his 16 points in the second half and snared seven rebounds, and Trent Girard scored seven of his 12 after the intermission.
"I trust my teammates, and they trust me," said Girard III, who just missed a triple-double after collecting 13 rebounds and nine assists. "If we don't play well, we go home."
Glens Falls will meet Lowville (Section III, 21-2) in Saturday's 5:15 p.m. championship game. Glens Falls has never won a state basketball crown, coming up short in title games in 2003 and 2007.
"They've had a great season, and to top it off with a state title, it would be awesome," Rob Girard said. "It's something they want not only for themselves, but for Jimmer Fredette and Mike Van Schaick and for all the other guys who never got it."
Girard III quarterbacked Glens Falls to state football championships in 2016 and 2018.
"[Saturday] is going to be special," the Syracuse commit said. "It's something we've dreamed of since we were in second, third grade. To win state titles in two sports in the same year would be amazing."
Josh Biher gave Olean its only lead on a game-starting layup, and Girard III generated the contests' next 13 points which featured three of his eight 3-point baskets. Girard III's first-quarter output also included assisting on a layup by Kyle Vachon.
"When I got on the court I saw that I had a size advantage," Girard III said. "I felt I could get my shot off. I came out and felt good."
Girard III had 24 points by the half to help Glens Falls work its lead to 40-25.
"Joe kind of took care of us in the first half," Rob Girard said. "The rest of the guys picked it up in the second half."
"If I get going, I know they'll get it going," Girard III said. "We feed off each other."
Olean got as close as nine twice in the third quarter, at 53-44 and again at 55-46. Trent Girard drove for a basket to regain the Indians' double-digit lead, and the senior guard nailed a 3 to close the quarter. In the fourth, Girard III delivered nine points to help put the Huskies away while the Indians extended their win streak to 20 games.
"We had to pull together when they made their run," said Danahy, a junior forward who blocked a shot and drew two charge calls as part of his productive outing. "Joe always says we have to weather the storm. He's our leader and we listen to him."
Girard III boosted his career points total to 4,628. He also broke his own state one-season 3-point record, upping his total to 180 after sinking 179 of them as a junior.
"It's all about winning," Girard III said.
Mike Schmidt scored 29 points for Olean, a 2016 state champion.
Lowville beat Center Moriches (Section XI, 20-6) in Friday's second semifinal 80-66 behind Gavin MacAuleys 25 points and Aidan MacAuley's 19.
WOLFPACK IN ACTION
Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville (21-3), which this week was elevated to No. 1 in the state rankings, will take on Panama (Section VI, 18-6) in a Class D semifinal game Saturday at 12:45 p.m. Marathon (Section IV, 15-9) and Harrisville (Section X, 19-6) meet in the other semifinal at 2:30 p.m. The title game is Sunday at 2 p.m.
OESJ reached its first final four — St. Johnsville made it in 2001 — with a 57-40 regional win over Wells. Tyler Leon continued his strong postseason play with 25 points and 10 rebounds, and the Wolfpack used a 19-5 run to close out the third quarter and gain the upper hand.
Defending Class C champion and state No. 1 Lake George (26-0) plays Middle Early College (21-4) Saturday in a 9 a.m. semifinal. Cooperstown (Section III, 24-2) and Greenport (Section XI, 21-2) meet in the other Class C semifinal at 10:45 a.m. Sunday's final is set for noon.
Lake George beat Madrid-Waddington and Moriah in regional games to tie and then set the Section II record for consecutive wins with 54. Scotia-Glenville strung 53 wins from 2013-15 when it claimed back-to-back state titles. Lake George won other New York titles in 2015 and 2013.
GLENS FALLS 83, OLEAN 63
Weakfall 5-0-11, James 0-2-2, Schmidt 10-6-29, Prizel 3-2-8, Droney 4-1-9, Biher 2-0-4. Totals: 24-11-63.
Barclay 0-4-4, J. Girard 12-7-39, T. Girard 4-2-12, C. Girard 1-0-2, Danahy 7-2-16, McClements 1-0-2, Vachon 4-0-8. Totals: 29-15-83.
Olean 6 19 21 17 — 63
Glens Falls 20 20 20 23 — 83