#DreamFearlessly Fan Vote winners set for High School Slam & 3-Point Championship

#DreamFearlessly Fan Vote winners set for High School Slam & 3-Point Championship

High School Slam Dunk and 3-Point Championships

#DreamFearlessly Fan Vote winners set for High School Slam & 3-Point Championship

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afi-hs-slam-dunk-3-point-championshipsAfter four rounds of the #DreamFearlessly Fan Vote, the final tickets have been punched for the American Family Insurance High School Slam Dunk & 3-Point Championships in Houston.

The results of the championship matchups were announced Thursday with the winners surviving a 16-person bracket to earn a spot among the nation’s top dunkers and three-point shooters who will be competing April 1 in the host city of the men’s basketball NCAA Final Four.

Elijah Pemberton of Cheshire Academy (Conn.) narrowly won the dunk vote with 50.27% over Elijah Thomas from Sunrise Mountain in Arizona. Pemberton is a 6-4 shooting guard who has signed to play at Hofstra.

The boys’ three-point champion participant is Ian Mumford from Keys Gate in Florida. The 5-10 Mumford shot 52% on threes and averaged 12.2 points per game this season. He posted 50.25% of the vote to edge Drew Kelly from East Burke in North Carolina.

The girl’s three-point champion participant is Nicole Beavers from Mount Zion, Ill. The 5-6 Beavers shot 34% from three-point range and set a school record with 81 three-pointers this season. She scored 54.34% of the vote to down Sam Caruth of Faith Lutheran in Nevada.

USA TODAY High School Sports caught up with the three winners Thursday and asked them how they won, how they’re preparing and more.

ELIJAH PEMBERTON, DUNK

Elijah Pemberton

Elijah Pemberton

What was your strategy to get people to vote?

I used every resource I could — Every social media network I could, friends, family, even people at my former school, Xavier High School in Middletown. I think of myself as a nice person and I keep in contact with a lot of people. Cheshire Academy did a lot for me. My town is behind me a lot. Everyone was helping on Facebook and Twitter too

When did you think you had a realistic chance to win it all?

When I got a shoutout from World Star Hip Hop in the final. They have 1.3 million followers on Twitter so I knew this was going to happen. My points started going up from there. One of my close friends, Jimmy Auger, knows the director of World Star Hip Hop. He put it up there for me.

How have you been practicing to get ready in hopes you would be selected?

I’m back in the weight rom doing a lot of plyometrics and squats, trying to keep my vertical leap up and my legs prepared. I took a week off after the playoffs to get rid of the bruises and soreness — we play in a tough league up here. Hopefully when I get down there I’ll be bouncy.

What’s your game plan here? Do you have your dunks picked out? You blew people away when you dunked over 6-3 teammate Chol Marial in your highlight tape. 

I got my dunks and I’m practicing a few that nobody has seen in my videos. I want make sure everything is exciting. … I have never jumped over anybody who is 7 feet before. I jumped over someone who was 6-9 so I put (Marial) under the hoop and said, ‘I gotta to go for it.’  That’s something I can tell my future kids, that I jumped over someone who was 7-3. Not many people can say that.

For people who are planning to watch the broadcast, what would you tell them?

Just enjoy it and hopefully, I get to impress everybody. I’m not Aaron Gordon or Zach Levine, but I’m going to try to put on a show.

IAN MUMFORD, BOYS’ THREE-POINT

Ian Mumford

Ian Mumford

What was your strategy to get people to vote?

My family has a lot of friends, we have lot of friends at school. They were telling their friends and coworkers. We were going around school, sending mass emails out and teachers were putting it on the board in their classes. The principal really helped me too. We were using Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and I put up a few snaps too.

When did you think you had a realistic chance to win it all?

I didn’t want to get big-headed and end up regretting it. Every round was pretty tough. I had a lot of friends that were very into it with me. I was confident with my friends helping me. Wasn’t 100% sure that I would win until Thursday when I saw the percentages.

How have you been practicing to get ready in hopes you would be selected?

I’ve been practicing every day since the season ended and I’m actually calling you right before practice. I make sure after I practice with my travel ball team that I go in and shoot three-pointers for at least an hour or more. I shoot about 200. I keep going until I get tired, then I go a little more. I’m usually the last one there.

For people who are planning to watch the broadcast, what would you tell them?

Hopefully, I will do a good job and make all their votes worth it. I want the people who voted for me to know it was worth spending the time.

NICOLE BEAVERS, GIRLS’ THREE-POINT

Nicole Beavers

Nicole Beavers

What was your strategy to get people to vote?

We had posters all around my high school. We posted a lot of on social media with Facebook and Twitter. We had fliers on a lot of local businesses with the voting period and how can you vote. We had a lot of relatives find out from Facebook or from my mom and they got all their towns to vote.  My parents are from a small town close t us so their whole town was supporting us, too.

When did you think you had a realistic chance to win it all?

After the second round, I only won by .01 percent and we were shocked that I won that. We started to get more votes after that and spread word ever more because we thought I had a bigger chance.”

How have you been practicing to get ready in hopes you would be selected?

I’ve been in track season so I’ve been running after school. I’m getting in the gym at night shooting. I get the rack out and have my dad time me and shoot the five balls at different points. It’s a lot different (than in a game). I was in the three-point competition at regionals so I have a bit of experience in the last two years in winning that.

For people who are planning to watch the broadcast, what would you tell them?

I’m from a small town. I feel like I was the underdog in the fan voting and I’ve worked really hard and gotten better at shooting over the last two years and set my school record this season.

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