Coal Ridge 3-point ace Austin Gerber in running to compete at NCAA Final Four preps shooting contest
Final spots come down to online fan voting over next four weeks
It’s a long shot, but that’s what Coal Ridge senior basketball player Austin Gerber does best.
Gerber is shooting an impressive 47% from beyond the 3-point arc this season, knocking down 49 of his 105 attempts so far through 16 games, and averaging 18.4 points per game.
He will be gunning to surpass 300 points total for the season Friday night against Aspen as the Titans (12-4, 5-1) look to make a run at the Class 3A Western Slope League regular-season title.
Gerber’s stats caught the attention of organizers for the American Family Insurance “#DreamFearlessly Fan Vote” online fan voting contest to select one of the top 3-point shooters in the country to showcase their skills in a shooting competition during the NCAA Final Four in Atlanta in April.
It’s up to fans to decide, and Coal Ridge High School is going all out to spread the word across the region that Gerber should be among them.
The first round of voting in the four-week digital media contest is already underway.
The contest matches 16 of the top boys 3-point shooters in the nation in a bracket-style competition to determine the final #DreamFearlessly participant. Fans can vote once a day.
The winner will compete with other contestants during the Final Four on April 4-6. There’s also a voting contest for girls 3-point shooters and for players to compete in the slam dunk competition.
The first round of voting ends at 11 a.m. (Mountain Time) Feb. 18. Each week, the field narrows until fans are asked to vote on the final two contestants from March 6-13.
“It’s a huge blessing and a great opportunity at the same time,” Gerber said of the opportunity to showcase his skills on a national stage.
“My coaches have been pushing all season for me to work harder and get better. And I have to thank my teammates for finding me the ball out on the court,” he added. “This is a huge confidence booster, just knowing that other people are looking at it.”
Gerber and his family, along with Coal Ridge officials including Athletic Director Ben Kirk and his coach, Paul Harvey, have been talking it up and encouraging the larger community to get out the vote for Gerber.
“We hope people from all of our communities can rally behind a humble, Western Slope kid and send him to a big-time competition,” Harvey said. “Austin is a coach’s dream. He loves the game of basketball, works extremely hard at his craft, and always carries himself with dignity and respect.
“This opportunity is a testament to his dedication and perseverance.”
Video highlight reels of each competitor on the contest web site can help fans determine their choice. Fans can vote daily at http://www.amfam.com/fanvote.
Once the first round of voting is concluded, the quarterfinal round runs Feb. 19-26, the semifinals from Feb. 27 through March 5, and then the finals from March 6-13.
One other Colorado athlete, Conifer’s Elijah Cook, is also among the boys 3-point contestants. Representing Colorado for the girls are Carly Dilworth from Denver South and Jada Moore from Regis Jesuit.
Alumni of the Final Four 3-point contest who now play in the NBA and WNBA include the Sacramento Kings’ Buddy Hield, the Washington Mystics’ Ariel Atkins, the Seattle Storm’s Jordin Canada, the Atlanta Hawks’ Trae Young and the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Collin Sexton.
Complete brackets with matchup details can be found on http://www.amfam.com/fanvote.
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A press release came out in the afternoon on Friday, Jan. 22 with details about a transition to distance learning for the entire fifth grade, including its teachers, at Carbondale Middle School (CMS).