By Bryan Cooney
(Special to Section2Basketball.com)
FORT MYERS, Fla. -
It was fitting that Joe Girard gave Southwest Florida basketball fans a taste of what he has done to many basketball teams in New York over his high school career after a lackluster showing in Glens Falls’ defeat Thursday in their Culligan City of Palms Classic debut.
The all-time leading scorer in New York history and Syracuse signee scored early and often Saturday afternoon as the scoring dynamo put up the second highest individual scoring output in tournament history with 59 points to help the Indians defeat Brunswick (Ga.) 80-65 in the consolation final of the Signature Series.
“That might have been one of his better ones ever and he probably passed up a few shots he could have taken,” Indians head coach Robert Girard said.
“We feel good about that, he got everyone involved. Guys made big shots, even our defense was really good. That’s who he is out there, he’s our leader. The kids look at him, everybody knows. When they’re handling the ball, they look to go to him.”
Converting on 20-for-42 from the field, Girard connected on 11 of his 29 3-point attempts but rued afterward of his three misses at the foul line that would have given him the tournament scoring record of 62, one better than former University of Florida guard Kenny Boynton who accomplished the feat for American Heritage High School in 2007.
“I struggled from the free throw line this week for sure, I’ll definitely have to go back and practice that,” Girard said.
“It is what it is, we won so it’s all good with me.”
After being held to 22 points on 5-for-23 shooting from the field in Glens Falls’ 78-56 loss to Petal (Miss.), Girard needed to produce after the Indians fell behind 9-0 just two and a half minutes in. After catching fire to the tune of 13 first-quarter points, the 6-foot-2 guard added 15 more in the second quarter to finish the half with 28 on the strength of six 3-pointers and push Glens Falls to a 39-35 halftime advantage.
Hot shooting from the perimeter kept Brunswick in the game as Torrey Dickens, Jr. knocked in three 3-pointers in the third quarter to help the Pirates close to within 57-54 entering the fourth quarter, but Girard scored five quick points to open the quarter to give Glens Falls some breathing room.
After Girard pulled the trigger on a right-wing 3-pointer to put the Indians ahead by double figures for the first time all game at 67-56, the chase was on to try and add his name to the tournament record book.
Sitting at 48 points, Girard bombed in another 3-pointer on the opposite wing on the ensuing possession to give him 51 points with 4:10 remaining in the game. With the crowd buzzing, Girard went back to the right-wing to knock down an even longer 3-pointer to put him at 54 with a little over three minutes remaining.
With the game well in hand, Girard knocked down a pair of free throws after a Brunswick technical foul and added a driving lay-up to put him at 58 points with a little over a minute remaining. One final 3-point attempt from the left wing bounced out and it seemed like Brunswick would dribble out the clock, but the Pirate bench was called for a technical foul with 6.1 seconds left. Giving Girard a chance to match his personal best of 60 points in which he accomplished twice last year as a junior for the Indians, he missed his third free throw of the game before converting the second and was removed to a rousing hand from the Suncoast Credit Union Arena crowd.
It was the first 50-point game since Boynton set the tournament mark 11 years ago and only the fifth such game in tournament history as Girard joined two other former Florida guards in Teddy Dupay (56 points) and Nick Calathes (50 points) along with late Clifford Rozier, who scored 51 points in 1989 before being a first-round pick in the 1994 NBA Draft out of Louisville.
Girard’s cousin Trenton added 16 points with four 3-pointers for Glens Falls who return to New York with a blemish on their record at 9-1 but will take memories and confidence with them as they push for a long postseason run.
“It was a great experience and definitely helped me, but more importantly it’s going to help our team,” Joe Girard said.
“I don’t know if we’ll see some teams like this back at home, but it gives us a confidence booster coming out of here with a win. It can help us for the playoffs back at home. Our confidence is definitely rising and our ability to play is definitely rising as well.”
|Teams||End 1Q||Halftime||End 3Q||Final|
In game win probability
|Glens Falls||Brunswick (GA)|
|Glens Falls||Joseph Girard #11||59|
|Glens Falls||Trenton Girard #13||16|
|Brunswick (GA)||Torrey Dickens Jr. #14||21|
|Brunswick (GA)||Xavier Bean #10||11|
Game flow chart
All 11 of Joseph Girard III made three point field goals.