PREP ROUNDUP: Austin Gerber’s career-high 20 points leads Titans over Moose; Rifle boys top Mancos 50-31, Roaring Fork girls head to Weld Central tourney championship game | PostIndependent.com

PREP ROUNDUP: Austin Gerber’s career-high 20 points leads Titans over Moose; Rifle boys top Mancos 50-31, Roaring Fork girls head to Weld Central tourney championship game

Josh Carney
Post Independent

Death, taxes, and a Gerber lighting up the scoreboard for Coal Ridge. That seems to be the norm in Garfield County lately.

Junior guard Austin Gerber's career-high 20 points sparked the Coal Ridge Titans' boys basketball team to a big 68-57 win Friday evening over the Alamosa Mean Moose inside Chavez-Spencer Gymnasium, propelling the Titans into the championship game of the Demon Invitational Saturday afternoon at 2:30 p.m.

The Titans found themselves in a tough battle Friday evening in the third quarter, clinging to a 34-33 lead. A putback layup on a third chance by senior Kevyn Flores sparked the Titans offensively before two early fourth-quarter 3-pointers by Gerber helped the Titans run away from the Mean Moose for good in the 11-point win.

"Kevin's basket was a huge for us, but [senior] Aarron [Arreola] hitting a mid-range jumper and then Austin with the two 3-pointers was so huge for us in a tight ballgame," said Paul Harvey, Coal Ridge's head coach. "We told them if we could stop beating ourselves with silly turnovers and cleaned it up, we'd be alright. They played really smart basketball down the stretch."

Prior to the swing in momentum in the third quarter, Alamosa and Coal Ridge traded basket after basket in the first quarter with the Moose holding a narrow 18-16 lead after one quarter of play, mainly thanks to two fortunate banked-in 3-pointers by senior Nicholas Brubacher.

The Titans answered with a 9-0 run to start the third quarter as Gerber hit a 3-pointer, senior Payton White stole the ball and hit a layup in transition, and Gerber and senior Jan Hernandez hit two free throws each, giving the Titans a 25-19 lead. A layup late in the quarter by senior Kevin DiMarco stretched Coal Ridge's lead to 27-21, but a jumper by junior Ian Jackson and a 3-point play in the paint by senior Chad Jackson pulled the Mean Moose to within one at 27-26 heading into the half.

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Coming out of the break the Moose started to focus more on DiMarco, who was pushed to the perimeter as Alamosa's defense collapsed into the paint to stop the big 6-foot-7 center. That didn't phase the Titans as Gerber hit a 3-pointer to open the second half before DiMarco dunked on Alamosa's Davis Gonzales off of a screen-and-roll from the left block, giving the Titans a 32-28 lead.

Alamosa briefly took the lead again as junior Brenden Crowther hit a 3-pointer and Ian Jackson hit a layup, but that's when Flores' second- and third-effort bucket sparked the Titans. After Flores' putback, Arreola hit a layup and senior Jeremy Funes hit a 3-pointer, giving the Titans a 39-33 lead. A desperation 3-pointer by Alamosa's Isaiah Harrell at the third-quarter buzzer made it a 41-38 game in favor of Coal Ridge heading into the fourth quarter of action.

Gerber and Hernandez hit quick 3-pointers for the Titans, stretching the lead to 47-40 before Gerber hit another 3-pointer – his fourth of the game – making it a 50-42 game. Coal Ridge kept the Moose at bay by 8-10 points the rest of the way before Alamosa's head coach, Brandon Brubacher – who was chirping at the officials for much of the game, picked up a technical foul.

The technical foul allowed the Titans to stretch the lead to 66-52 after a free throw from Gerber and possession, leading to a pair of free throws from Hernandez and a free throw from senior Jesus Camunez, all but ending the Moose's comeback attempt.

"It's great to have balanced scoring like that," said Harvey, who saw five players score at least 6 points in the win. "We have four guys this season averaging at least 10 points per game with a fifth right behind at eight or so. Once we saw they collapsed against Kevin, we made sure we got Kevin into the paint, which crumbled their defense, leading to some great looks for Austin, Jan and Jesus."

In the win, Gerber led the way with 20 points, while DiMarco added 14. Hernandez chipped in with 11 points, while Camunez and White added 7 and 6 points respectively.

Coal Ridge squares off with Faith Christian Saturday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. for the Demon Invitational boys championship game.

GIRLS BASKETBALL

Montrose 51, Coal Ridge 38

An 11-0 run to start the second half by the Montrose Indians' girls basketball team led the way to a 51-38 win Friday afternoon on Day 2 of the Demon Invitational against the Coal Ridge Titans, sending the Indians to the girls championship game Saturday afternoon.

Coal Ridge controlled much of the first half thanks to a dominant performance from sophomore center Taylor Wiescamp. The sophomore scored 10 first-half points, including a perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line, but the Titans faltered offensively in the first half, struggling with Montrose's fullcourt trap.

As the Titans turned the ball over against the trap, the Indians took advantage, going 6-for-7 from the free throw line in the run, while also getting a 3-pointer to fall before the Titans regrouped and fed Wiescamp in the lane for a layup midway through the third quarter, stopping the Indians' run.

It wasn't enough in the end though as Coal Ridge never truly figured out Montrose's trap, while the Indians dialed in from 3-point range and cashed in on multiple trips to the free throw line, eventually pulling away from the Titans for good.

The two teams were tied 8-8 after one quarter of play before Montrose created some breathing room with a 16-10 lead, but the Titans closed the first half on an 11-3 run keyed by a putback and-1 from senior Kashley Morgan and a layup from junior Lyanna Nevarez.

Things did a 180 in the second half as Montrose couldn't miss from three and wore down the free throw line in the second half.

A 3-pointer from Morgan early in the fourth quarter cut it to a 12-point deficit for the Titans, but Coal Ridge couldn't get shots to fall unless it was free throw, scoring just 10 points in the final 6 minutes of the fourth quarter, coming up short by 13 points against the Titans.

The Titans head to the consolation bracket Saturday with the loss to Montrose, where they'll face off with Glenwood Springs at 10 a.m.

The Indians take on Canon City Saturday afternoon in the Demon Invitational championship game.

Roaring Fork 52, Weld Central 41

On the road Friday night for the second game of the Weld Central basketball tournament, the Roaring Fork Rams' girls basketball team stayed red-hot to open the season, picking up an impressive 52-41 win over Rebels, setting up championship game matchup Saturday evening against Falcon at 5 p.m.

Against the Rebels of Weld Central, Roaring Fork took a 33-23 lead into halftime as senior guard Logan Erickson dialed in early from 3-point range, hitting three three's in the first quarter on her way to 11 first-half points, while junior Emily Broadhurst scored 6 first-half points of her own, pacing the Rams. Senior Gaby Santana added 6 first-half points as well, while junior Caroline Wisroth and senior Isa Hernandez added 4 points each in the first half as Roaring Fork took control.

In the second half, Erickson hit another 3-pointer in the third quarter, while Broadhurst hit two buckets and Hernandez and senior Kendall Bernot scored 2 points each in the third quarter, helping the Rams hold the Rebels at bay. The Rams scored just 8 fourth quarter points while the Rebels poured in 13, but Roaring Fork's lead was too large to overcome in the final quarter of play, sending the Rams to the championship game.

Against the Rebels, Erickson led the way with 16 points, while Santana and Broadhurst added 12 and 10 points each. Hernandez added 6 points.

BOYS BASKETBALL

Resurrection Christian 73, Roaring Fork 38

Down two starters against the Wildcats of Resurrection Christian, the Roaring Fork Rams' boys basketball team lost a third starter to injury in the second half, forcing Roaring Fork to play shorthanded with some inexperienced players, leading to a 73-38 loss to the Wildcats.

Sophomore guard Graham Pietch carried the scoring load for the Rams against the Wildcats, pouring in a career-high 17 points in the loss, while senior Oscar Miranda added 11 points.

Roaring Fork (1-2) takes on Olathe Saturday at 12:30 p.m.

Rifle 50, Mancos 31

Coming off of a big win over Rangely Thursday night at the Cowboy Shootout Tournament in Meeker, the Rifle Bears' boys basketball team kept it rolling Friday night, topping Mancos 50-31, sending the Bears to the tournament championship game at 3 p.m.

Against Mancos, junior Trey Lujan led the way with 15 points, while senior Omar Chavez added 11 points.