It helps when you have a national champion in free throws on your team, especially in a close game. Glens Falls’ Joe Girard III scored a potentially record-breaking 52 points including 22 for 22 from the foul line helping the Indians defeat the Amsterdam Running Rams 87-82 Tuesday night at Amsterdam High School in battle of two Foothills Council unbeaten teams.
“I know that free throws are a key part of the game coming down the stretch,” Girard III said. “It takes having the mentality of making every free throw.”
Girard III did just that making 15 of his 22 free throws in the fourth quarter including six in a suspense filled last 45 seconds of the game to seal the win.
“We were going to give him the ball,” Coach Girard said. “That’s what it came down to. He was a national free throw champion as an 11-year-old. We wanted the ball in his hands.”
Amsterdam trailed 42-30 at the half, cut the lead to six points at the end of the third quarter and were closing in on the lead late in the fourth. Baskets by Kory Bergh and Matt Fedullo held Glens Falls to a 74-68 lead with 2:21 left in the game. The Rams were in the middle of a 9-2 run and a steal and a free throw by Bergh, and then a length of the court drive by Fedullo cut it to 76-71. A technical foul on Glens Falls’ Tony Green put Bergh on the line again for two more and suddenly it was a one possession game. But that’s as close as the Rams would get. Following a turnover, Girard III answered with another three, his seventh of the game, boosting the lead back to six. Fedullo connected for three with 1:10 left to play cutting it to three again, and Tysean Hanna’s layup made it 81-78 with 45 seconds left. But every time they got close, Girard III converted a pair of free throws keeping victory out of reach for Amsterdam.
“Girard III was red hot tonight,” Amsterdam head coach Tim Jones said. “We tried double teaming him,we tried a one-three zone, but he was on.”
Girard III scored 21 points in the first half and helped Glens Falls break a 15-15 tie with the Rams after the first quarter. Amsterdam took the lead 18-17 in the second quarter after a three-point play from Bergh, who led Amsterdam with 34 points. Girard III and Green scored back to back baskets putting Glens Falls in front 21-18, but a free throw by Ben Rhodes and a three from Hanna gave Amsterdam the advantage. Green, Rhodes and Glens Falls Aaron Sampson traded baskets to knot the game at 25-25 in front of Hanna’s next triple that gave the Rams their last lead at 28-25. Girard III led the Indians on a 15-2 run to end the half and a 42-30 lead. Girard III’s teammates Green, Justin Holness, and Andrew Stamatel, all scored during the run.
“We know Joe Girard III is a special kid, but he can’t win without them,” Coach Girard said. “He can’t do it by himself and they can’t win without him. We needed production from our inside guys and it was a great effort tonight.”
“We look at it as a team game,” added Girard III, who is head coach Rob Girard’s cousin. “Not one person, but all five of us together.”
Applause came from the crowd at AHS for both teams, and while Girard III was putting on an impressive performance, Amsterdam’s Kory Bergh’s efforts were not overlooked in the eyes of all in attendance. Bergh and his teammates outscored Glens Falls 21-15 in the third quarter to make it a 57-51 game. Bergh scored nine points in the period.
“Bergh is a great player,” Coach Girard said. “We were saying, let’s not let Bergh go off and score 30 points. We wanted to hold him to 20 points. He’s a player. I was impressed with all their kids.”
Bergh’s 34 points were best among four double-digit scorers for Amsterdam. Hanna was next with 17, Matt Fedullo added 13, and Rhodes was next with ten. Keenan Holloway contributed five points, Gehrig Garner had two, and Louis Fedullo had one for the Rams. Rhodes led AHS with six rebounds.
Glens Falls had five others in the scoring column besides Girard III. Green finished with 17 points, Stamatel had six, Holness had five, Sampson was next with four, and Connor Schliff had three. The two teams combined to score 61 points in the fourth quarter alone.
“We didn’t get the shots we wanted and Glens Falls did,” Jones said. “Our ball movement wasn’t happening the way we wanted it to, but we fought back. Guys stepped up and we were excited to be in it. We did the best we could, we just didn’t do enough.”
“We wanted to get the win,” Bergh said. “This team has the heart but it didn’t come out the way we wanted.”
Amsterdam will return to action on Friday when they travel to Gloversville. The Rams defeated their Foothills Council South division rivals in their first game of the season 56-54 on a last second shot by Bergh. Tip time for the varsity contest is set for 7:30pm.
Girard III’s effort may even have been a school record. While school officials are uncertain, according to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Section 2 boys basketball one game record book (50 points or more), it would be a school record. Another Joe Girard scored 59 points for St. Mary’s Catholic School in Glens Falls, in a 1990 against Chatham, but no Glens Falls High School player is listed as having scored 50 points or more in a game. However, Glens Falls head coach Rob Girard wasn’t certain about one school legend.
“I think Jim Town scored 52 points in a game,” Coach Girard said.
Jim Town, a 1973 graduate of Glens Falls High School, who went on to play in college at the University of Massachusetts, held the all time school scoring record in boys basketball with 1599 points until it was broken 30 years later by Jimmer Fredette. Fredette went on to play college basketball at Brigham Young University and was drafted to play professionally in the NBA. Fredettes’ high game total was 46 points. Girard III eclipsed that mark in the fourth quarter making several key free throws to hold off a surging Rams team.