Titans’ Gerber closing in on 1K career points
For the third time in school history, Coal Ridge is set to welcome a standout boy’s basketball player into the prestigious 1,000-point club.
Senior forward Hunter Gerber, the son of Jeff and Aimee Gerber of New Castle, finished second overall in voting for the 3A Western Slope League Player of the Year award in 2015-16 and now appears poised to win the award this season. He sits just 38 points away from cracking the 1,000-point mark for his career.
A quiet, goal-oriented player known more for his terrific all-around game at both ends of the floor than for being a high-flying, shot-hunting player for the Titans, Gerber has quietly put together arguably the best three-year stretch at Coal Ridge High School since the school’s formation in 2005.
“It’s something [1,000-point mark] that was a goal of mine coming into the season,” Gerber said during a recent practice at Coal Ridge High School. “Goals are a big thing of mine; that’s what pushes and motivates me. I work hard for them, but I care more about winning and seeing my teammates do well than I do putting up my own numbers. That being said, it’s definitely a goal of mine and it will be a dream come true to accomplish it. But right now I’m just going game-by-game with my teammates trying to get wins. I haven’t thought about what it will be like when the time comes.”
So far in his senior season, Gerber has helped the young, exciting Titans race out to a 5-3 record one year after losing four seniors to graduation. Based on his season average of 17.4 points per game, Gerber should crack the 1,000-point mark Jan. 17 on the road at Eagle Valley or Jan. 21 at home against Cedaredge.
Along with his quest for 1,000 points, Gerber is also on pace to set the school scoring record 1,075 points, set by Eric Schmidt in the 2008-09 season, which happened to be current Coal Ridge Head Coach Paul Harvey’s first season at the helm.
Andy Smedra also cracked 1,000 points for the Titans during the 2009-10 season. On top of the likely school scoring record, Gerber is just 41 rebounds and 15 steals away from setting the school record in those categories as well. That’s a testament to the young man’s commitment to all areas of the game at both ends of the floor, which has incidentally created a culture at Coal Ridge permeated with success.
“These guys know that whatever Hunter wants to do, you follow him,” Harvey said. “These guys just play; it’s refreshing. They come to play, and you know they want to win. There was a lot of pressure for Hunter to go to Glenwood in eighth grade, but he is basically our Johnny Dawkins. He doesn’t want to hear that because he’s a big North Carolina fan, but Dawkins was the guy who went to Duke and changed the culture there to what it is now, and that’s what Hunter’s done here.
“I feel like when Hunter came in, the work ethic, culture and the way we handled ourselves on the court was elevated. We also finally got a really good staff, and everyone kind of bought into the same idea here.”
That idea centers around sportsmanship, which was an award the Titans won last season as voted on by the coaches in the 3A WSL. Winning that award was a big deal to Gerber, who says that he wants to do the right thing at all times whether he’s on or off the court. By doing that, Gerber has set an example not only for teammates to follow, but also for his young brothers coming up through the system, starting with freshman guard Austin, who is currently on the junior varsity squad.
“I want to be a team player, and I want to show sportsmanship on the floor, but I also want to win,” Gerber said. “Winning that sportsmanship award last season was huge for this program. That competitive fire is definitely inside of me even though I don’t show it much on the floor because I’m not an emotional player, but I want to show these guys how to play the game the right way and how to do the right thing all the time. My brothers will need to build their own names, and I know they’re fully capable of doing that, but I want to show them what being in high school is like and doing it the right way.”
Reading that one might think it’s just simple athlete talk, not wanting to give anything away in the press, but that’s who Gerber is to a T. He’s well-respected on and off the floor, and has even inspired Harvey in more ways than one.
“He’s just incredible,” Harvey said. “He’s actually inspired me to be a better person. He’s just a humble person. I watch him, and he doesn’t get worked up or upset about calls, and I think, ‘Why can’t I do that?’ He’s such a good person, and he leads our Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter here at Coal Ridge.
“I like the Bible verse, ‘As iron shapes iron, men shape men,’ and I think he’s influenced me more than I’ve influenced him. I think he’s a complete person: leadership, spirituality, grades.”
Gerber has fulfilled his goal of doing the right thing on and off the floor, considering he’s a complete person and a complete player. Not only is he leaving a lasting legacy as one of the best — if not the best ever — players in program history, Gerber is also making an impact in the school system. That legacy will be large when it’s time to move on.
“When he moves on we’ll lose a little bit of our heart and soul of the team,” Harvey said. “But he’s left a legacy and an example for people to emulate. He’s set us on the right path. He’s influenced the way I operate as a coach. I enjoy coaching a lot more, and now I sort of subscribe to the Wooden idea that you just want to make these guys good young men and work hard and then we’ll be successful. Hunter handles everything the right way, whether that’s how he works on the floor, how he reacts to calls and coaching, and I think that’s rubbed off on these guys.”
With just 10 regular season games left in Gerber’s high school career, the 6-foot-3-inch senior has a chance to reach heights never obtained in Coal Ridge basketball history. And really, it couldn’t have happened to a better young man.
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