Gerber reaches 1K, Titans roll to 20-point win
Heading into Saturday’s game against Cedaredge at Coal Ridge High School in New Castle, standout Titans senior forward Hunter Gerber sat just 18 points away from reaching the prestigious 1,000-point club in school history.
Needing just those 18 points, Gerber attacked the paint early and often against the visiting Bruins, scoring 14 first-half points before cracking the 1,000-point mark with two free throws at the 2:38 mark of the third quarter, sending the packed gymnasium into a frenzy during the Titans’ win.
With the student section and a majority of the fans wearing Carolina blue for Gerber’s favorite college basketball program, the North Carolina Tar Heels, Gerber felt right at home on a pressure-packed day.
But in the end, the accomplishment couldn’t have come in a more fitting way as the fundamentally sound play easily sank the two free throws to put himself firmly in the picture of boys basketball school history in Coal Ridge.
“I wasn’t really sure where I was at during the game, but I could hear the crowd gasp every time I shot the ball there in the third quarter,” Gerber said. “Once that happened I knew I had to be close, so it was pretty cool. I’m so greatful of this moment. I’m thankful for my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, my parents, my coaches, teammates, everyone. It means so much to have all of these people here today supporting me and this team.”
Early on in the game Gerber was in attack-mode, scoring 10 first-quarter points for the Titans, who raced out to a 19-15 lead after one quarter of play. While scoring the 10 points in the opening eight minutes, it wasn’t as if Gerber was looking to score on every possession.
Known for his all-around game, Gerber played a big part in the first quarter explosion, dropping off some terrific passes to sophomore forward Kevin DiMarco in traffic for layups, as well as junior Payton White.
Holding the 19-15 lead after one quarter of play, Coal Ridge stayed on the attack, scoring 28 second-quarter points to take a 47-38 lead as Titan guards Brandon Herrera and Jan Hernandez took over, combining for nine points and a number of steals and assists to spark the Titan attack.
Coming out of the half, Coal Ridge would get a three-point play from DiMarco before Gerber would hit a tough layup in traffic to get to within two points of the 1,000 point club.
After a few missed shots, Gerber was able to knife into the lane and draw a foul, just missing the potential and-1 opportunity before calmly sinking the two free throws to accomplish the goal.
Coal Ridge Head Coach Paul Harvey, who had Gerber as a third grader in his first ever Titans basketball camp, saw the action from the sideline and couldn’t quite hide his excitement for the moment.
“It was just pure elation,” Harvey said. “He’s worked so hard and he’s a humble kid, and he’s not somebody who’s going to pound his chest and be all about himself. It’s all about his teammates. So for him to be celebrated today was pretty special. This was one of the biggest Saturday crowds we’ve ever had since I’ve been here, so it was just great to see so many people come out and show so much love and support for a great kid.”
Coal Ridge Athletic Director Ben Kirk was the one who organized the entire celebration, putting together the Carolina blue turnout, as well as 18 fatheads of Gerber to represent the 18 points that the senior needed.
Gerber’s two free throws put the Titans up to 67-42 over the Bruins before eventually rolling to an 82-64 win.
The senior finished with 21 points, giving him 1,003 in his career at Coal Ridge, which sits just 138 points away from the school record of 1,141 set by Eric Schmidt.
Along with Gerber’s historic night, DiMarco finished with 18 points, while White and senior guard Eziel Ruiz chipped in with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
“We just have to keep working as hard as we have been moving forward,” Gerber said. “I’m really excited about the rest of the season with my teammates.”