River Hill senior forward Kelsey Erdman has grown steadily as the Hawks' dominant player, combining athleticism, court savvy

Versatility, urgency

Basketball

February 28, 2007|By Alejandro Danois | Alejandro Danois,special to the sun

The seeds for the versatile play of River Hill senior forward Kelsey Erdman were planted before she entered middle school.

While many of her peers were interested strictly in scoring, Erdman became enamored with other facets of the game.

"In one [Amateur Athletic Union] game when I was 11, I realized that I was blocking a lot of shots," Erdman said. "I enjoyed jumping up to get rebounds and block shots."

Erdman, 5 feet 10, has steadily grown into her role as the Hawks' dominant player. Combining her athleticism with court savvy and a sense of urgency, Erdman has blossomed from a talented contributor in a successful program into one of the best players in the county.

"Kelsey is extremely talented, quick and coachable," River Hill coach Teresa Waters said. "She's known for her speed, has great anticipation, attacks the hole, and she's a natural leaper. She can jump out of the gym."

This year, more responsibility was given to Erdman. Waters has employed her on the perimeter and in the low post, hoping to take advantage of her versatility and the mismatches it creates for opponents.

"I can create some mistakes that lead to steals and get my hands on a lot of rebounds," Erdman said.

She defends against guards, forwards and centers while averaging 13 points, four steals and nearly eight rebounds per game.

"Because of her speed, reach and height, she can guard anybody on the floor, and she's really worked on her outside game this year," Waters said. "She'd rather pass than score, has a good understanding of the game, can go to her left or right hand, and she tries to incorporate everybody else into the game."

She has also shown an ability to carry the Hawks by herself. .

In last week's Howard County championship game - a 55-43 loss to Atholton - Erdman was responsible for 65 percent of the Hawks' offense, scoring 28 points to go along with 12 rebounds, four steals and three assists. She outscored Atholton by herself in the third quarter, putting up 15 points.

"That was her best game ever," Waters said. "She put the team on her back and scored every way you can imagine - inside, outside and in transition. I don't know where I would've gotten any offense from if I didn't have her."

Said Erdman: "I've been a part of three county champions, and I wanted to make it four. I really wanted to win badly and honestly don't remember scoring that many points. I was just out there trying my hardest."

Erdman has come a long way since her freshman year, when she played little on the varsity team that lost to Gwynn Park of Prince George's County in the regional finals. Despite having a limited role, Erdman said the experience was invaluable.

"It was a difficult adjustment because this was a really strong program with very good players, and you had to give everything you had in the running and conditioning from the very beginning," she said. "I didn't get a lot of playing time, but the practices made me better as a player."

Thriving as a sophomore in a reserve role, Erdman was inserted into the starting lineup during the Hawks' playoff run that season. After battling nerves in her first start, she settled down by concentrating on defense.

"We went to the press against Gwynn Park, and I started coming up with steals," Erdman said. "I didn't score a lot of points, but I got some steals and assists, and that made me feel good because I felt like I was contributing to the team."

River Hill advanced to the state semifinals before losing to Milford Mill.

Entering her junior season, Erdman was more confident on the court. Her scoring increased as she became more offensive-minded.

She and her teammates - including All-Metro point guard Keisha Eaddy, who now plays at Temple University - used their disappointing state semifinal loss to Milford Mill the previous year as motivation. The Hawks finished 28-0 to win the class 3A state championship, and Erdman was named first-team All-County.

"Playing with Keisha last year made things easy," Erdman said. "She could push the ball, create opportunities for others, and I was able to score a lot on fast breaks."

Erdman also excels in two other sports at River Hill: soccer and lacrosse.

She was named to the All-County second team as a defender on the Hawks' undefeated state champion soccer team this fall. The first time she ever held a lacrosse stick was during tryouts as a freshman - and she made the varsity team.

As she nears the end of her high school basketball career, Erdman hopes to inspire her teammates for one last run in the playoffs.

She likely will score baskets in transition, make layups off steals, gather the ball in the paint and convert turnaround jumpers and show off a nice mid-range offensive repertoire.

But the scoring numbers will not tell the full story.

"Points are important, but there's other things that are just as important," Erdman said. "I love getting blocks and steals, passing to my teammates, playing defense, grabbing rebounds and running down the court on fast breaks. That's what makes the game fun."

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