Unlike many of their games this year, Glens Falls had to take back a lead and hold off a good team. They did that Friday, beating Mekeel Christian at the Glens Falls Civic Center in the Class B sectional final by a score of 60-55.
Trailing by five at halftime and after a slow quarter by Joe Girard III, in which he scored just two points, Glens Falls knew they had to turn it around or else they would lose in the Class B title game for the second straight year.
That is exactly what they would do with strong defensive play, holding Mekeel to six points in the third quarter despite scoring just 10, making it a one-point game at the end of three quarters and setting up a game that would turn into an instant classic. Girard III would score eight points in the third quarter highlighted by a pair of three-pointers right out of the gate to give Glens Falls an eventual 49-47 lead, the 13th and final lead change of the evening. Girard finished with 34 points on the evening and was crowned the tournament MVP.
“I had it in the back of my mind that I’m not really a fan of losing,” Girard III said. “When we’re losing, I have to do all I can to get us back in the lead, and that’s just what happened.”
The game had gotten off to a breakneck start, with the score being 23-22 at the end of the first quarter. The first eight minutes was highlighted by a half-court buzzer-beater from Mekeel’s Carter Stewart to make it a one-point contest after it had been extremely close for most of the first frame, with the two squads going back and forth.
After the first, however, the defenses on both sides stepped up big time, with Glens Falls only managing nine in the second and 10 in the third. This could have partly due to pressure that the both Mekeel and Glens Falls were dealing with to win, both of them having come into Friday’s contest undefeated on the season.
“I think it’s more that I feel it more than those guys (the players) as far as pressure goes, they just come to play every day,” Glens Falls head coach Rob Girard said.
Glens Falls pulled away in the last few minutes of the contest, allowing them to pick up the sectional title after falling in the same game last season.
Joe Girard III’s 34 points on the evening was obviously a key factor in the win. Tony Green, Jr., also had a very good night, scoring 12 points and grabbing 12 rebounds, a double-double for him. Dylan Balcom had eight points.
Merkel was led by Carter Stewart, who had 25 points on the evening, 11 of them coming in the first quarter. Deonte Holder had 15, and Oscar Iteji tacked on eight.
This marks the Indians’ first sectional title win since 2007, which was former BYU great and NBA lottery pick Jimmer Fredette’s senior year at Glens Falls. They are now 24-0 as they advance to the state tournament looking for a state title. They will be playing in the regional semifinals on Tuesday against Section X winner Canton. The game will be played at SUNY Potsdam, and the start time is 7:45 PM.