SIOUX CITY | No doubt about it, Briar Cliff’s men’s basketball team played for Erich Erdman Wednesday night.
Before departing with a lower-body injury with 4:52 remaining in the game, Erdman tallied 21 points. Coach Mark Svagera’s eighth-ranked Chargers maintained their focus and posted an 89-79 Great Plains Athletic Conference win over Dordt at the Newman Flanagan Center.
“When he went down, we kind of shuffled our lineup. We wanted to finish for him,” said his high-scoring teammate, Jay Wolfe, who finished with 17 points, eight rebounds and four assists.
Erdman and Wolfe entered with scoring averages of 21.3 and 20.6 points, respectively, for Briar Cliff (9-1, 6-1 GPAC), which remained a game behind No. 2 Morningside (10-0), which improved to 7-0 in the league following Wednesday’s 90-68 win over Midland.
Erdman was the only Charger starter to shoot better than 50 percent against a Dordt defense that was fourth in the league in defense, allowing an average of 76.2 points. Erdman, who has averaged 23.7 points in his last four outings, didn’t get to see the finish of the game as he stretched atop a table in the training room not far from the court.
Svagera was unsure afterwards if Erdman will play in Saturday’s home non-conference game against Dakota State. He agreed with Wolfe, his squad finished the game strong, scoring key baskets and making defensive stops while thinking of an athlete who has scored 20 or more points six times this season, the Chargers winning each of those contests.
“We had some guys who made some big plays late,” said Svagera, whose squad also received double-digit scoring from Jackson Lamb (16) and 6-foot-6 freshman Kyle Boerhave (11).
“Nic Lutmer had a couple of big shots around the basket. Jackson Lamb had a couple. The nice thing is, having Wolfe and Erdman, if one of them is out of the game, the other one can kind of do all the work that the one out has taken. It’s a luxury to have both of those guys. Jay took over handling the ball when Erich was out.”
Defense was the theme for both teams. Dordt (8-5, 2-4 GPAC) limited the Chargers to 45.9 percent shooting, which included 13 of 39 from beyond the three-point arc.
Coach Brian Van Haaften’s Defenders trailed from the start and finished shooting 40.5 percent. Former Spirit Lake High School athlete Alec Henrickson became the squad’s seventh different scoring leader of the season when he came off the bench for a season-best 19 points.
Chad Barkema added 17 points. Garrett Franken finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds for a squad that rallied from a 61-46 second half deficit to pull within 74-70 with 5:19 left.
Jaden Kleinhesselink, who along with Boerhave played for a 22-5 Sheldon team that took fourth place in last season’s Class 2A state tournament, responded with two key baskets for the Chargers, the second a three-pointer with 4:22 left.
The closest Dordt came the rest of the way was 79-74 as former Western Christian guard Ben Gesink made one of two free throws about two minutes later. Frigid 10 of 21 free throw shooting also hurt the squad guided by the former Buena Vista University coach.
“I didn’t think we had that look in our eye that we need to have on a consistent basis,” said Van Haaften. “I thought we missed some easy ones. We didn’t shoot free throws well. All of those things matter if you want to beat a good team.”
Dordt will continue GPAC play Saturday with a 4 p.m. home game at DeWitt Gymnasium against Hastings.