SCHUYLERVILLE — From the day Joe Girard III stepped on a varsity court in 8th grade in 2014, everyone knew he was going to be something special. Now, he has the record to prove that he is the greatest scorer in Section 2 history.
In his varsity debut in 2014, Glens Falls traveled to Fonda-Fultonville to kick off the 2014-15 season.
“I was coaching freshmen then, I told (former) coach (Tony) Hammel, I said ‘I don’t think he’s ready,'” Glens Falls head coach Rob Girard said.
“JG3” was plenty ready. He scored 31 points in his varsity debut and hit a buzzer-beating three that gave Glens Falls the victory on that night. He averaged 21 points per game over his rookie season.
“From there, it’s just been history. I’ve been working hard, and ever since then, I’ve kind of realized myself that I can do this,” Girard III said.
Fast-forward more than three years and a sectional title later, he has passed Section 2 legends such as school record-holder and former NBA player Jimmer Fredette earlier this season, Chris Ciaccio, Tony Traver, and even his father, Joe Girard, Jr.
Heading into Thursday night, a rivalry game on the road against Schuylerville, Girard III needed 41 points to climb the highest mountain: passing Kobe Lukfin’s 2,682 career points and becoming the all-time leader in scoring for Section 2.
He came into the game coming off of back-to-back 50 point performances and picked up right where he left off. He had 25 points by halftime, outscoring the entire Schuylerville team by himself, and Glens Falls had a 37-23 lead. He hit five three-pointers along the way, which is a key part of his game.
Girard III tacked on 14 more in the third quarter to bring him up to 39 on the night. Ten seconds into the fourth quarter, he stepped to the free throw line. He made the first one to even him with Lufkin at 2,682. The second one went in as well, putting him over the edge and officially becoming the greatest scorer that Section 2 basketball has even seen. The game was stopped, and he was presented with the game ball and a standing ovation from the capacity crowd, including about 75% Schuylerville fans.
“All the great players that have come out of Section 2, it’s definitely an accomplishment of mine that I’ll remember forever,” Girard III said. “I can’t thank my teammates and my coaches throughout the course of my career enough. They give me the ball when I need it, they set great screens, and coach trusts me and so do my teammates. That’s what I’m most thankful for, and I couldn’t do it without them.”
Girard III hit 12 threes total for the night, also breaking the Section 2 record in that category. It was previously set by Andrew Sherwin of Argyle on January 20, 2004, when he hit 11 in a game against Fort Ann. Girard III finished with 50 points for the third straight game, and he is averaging 48.6 points per game this season over 11 games.
He finished the night sitting at 2,692 career points, fourth on the New York state all-time list. The state record is currently held by Indiana Pacers guard Lance Stephenson, who played at Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn from 2004-2009. He finished his career with 2,946 points. Girard III is on pace to break that record later this season and become the first New York state player to reach 3,000 points. Being only a junior, 4,000 points is not entirely out of the question.
The sky seems to be the limit for Girard III, and all he can do now is set the bar higher and higher for future players. As for the game, Glens Falls got the win, 81-64.