SIOUX CITY | There’s a special presence that Erich Erdman has on the basketball court.
Things seem almost effortless for the quicksilver 5-foot-11 junior guard from Briar Cliff. He has a silky smooth 3-point shot, a delicate touch from the free throw line and an uncanny ability to spot open teammates, twice hitting a wide-open Jackson Lamb on 3-point connections.
Second among Great Plains Athletic Conference scorers headed into Saturday afternoon’s league game against Mount Marty, Erdman also has a defensive presence about himself, the way he seems to alter the shots of those he’s trying to defend. Twice in the first half, he recorded a pair of steal/layup combinations, one of those plays coming when he stepped in front of pass and drove to the basket.
“Defensively my first two years, I was a liability, I wasn’t very good,” said Erdman, who scored 25 points while also providing six assists and two steals during an 84-63 victory for the fifth-ranked Chargers in the CNOS Foundation Basketball Classic at the Tyson Events Center.
“That was something me and Coach (Mark Svagera) talked about this summer, being a junior and being a leader. It was something I had to take a step forward in. Being smooth on the court, I know I can trust my teammates. I know if I make that extra pass, it’s going to be a better shot than that one I’ve got. I work it into the guys who I know are unselfish and love each other and share the ball.”
Erdman, who missed only once in nine field goal attempts and was perfect in four 3-point tries, is in the midst of a third consecutive year of double-digit scoring, currently averaging 20.4 points. Svagera describes Erdman as the player that makes his team go.
“He’s a great scorer, obviously, but something he has done this year which he didn’t always do in the past, he has become a great distributor,” said Svagera. “He’s one of the leaders in the GPAC in steals. He’s very instinctive. He plays incredibly hard and I think the rest of our guys feed off of that. When the guys see Erich doing that, everybody else says I have to bring that same intensity and play with the same kind of passion.”
Lamb tallied 17 points for Briar Cliff (17-2, 6-1 GPAC) while Jay Wolfe added 16 in the squad’s sixth straight victory. The Chargers maintained their consistency, in terms of topping 80 points for the 18th time this season, but Mount Marty (3-15, 0-9), paced by Marcus Mathieu’s 24 points, stayed within range much of the first half.
Third in the GPAC in scoring defense, the Lancers a steal from Cole Fiegen that led to Drew Cheskie’s inside basket to pull within 24-19 with 7:06 left in the first half. Lamb’s trey launched a 15-1 run where the Chargers didn’t allow a field goal for nearly four minutes.
“I thought the second half of the first half, we had good defensive intensity and we really focused on what we wanted to do really got us the lead going into halftime and carried us through the second half,” said Svagera. “It’s something we’ve really talked about with the guys, to turn those stretches into little bit longer of stretches. Ultimately, that’s where we can be our best, by turning small stretches into better stretches defensively and maybe taking a 10-point lead into a 15-point lead, as opposed to letting it come back to a five-point lead.”
Briar Cliff will continue GPAC action Wednesday at Concordia.