Barron caps outstanding career at Susquehanna
In high school, Erika Barron was a scoring machine.
The former TIMES NEWS Player of the Year tallied 2,317 points in her scholastic career, which remains the most ever at Tamaqua.
Once the Blue Raider graduate entered the college ranks, though, her role changed that is until this past season.
For three straight years as a member of the Susquehanna University squad, Barron's main job was running the offense from her point guard position.
While she continued to handle that task in her senior season, she also added another element to her game one which she was well accustomed to doing.
"I guess you could say the first two, three years there I served the role as a traditional point guard in distributing the ball and making things happen," said Barron. "In my senior year, I took a look at our team and realized we needed to score more to win games. I knew I was capable of shooting. That's what I did before I came to college.
"I took it upon myself and just wanted to contribute on all areas at the offensive end. This is the first year that I really felt that I shot the ball, that I had the green light to come down on a 2-on-1 break and take a three instead of driving in or pulling it back out."
Barron nearly doubled her average and finished her final season with a team-leading 342 points and a 13.7 points per game average.
But by no means was her increased scoring a selfish trait. It was a necessary one.
"I don't remeber anything selfish about her," said Susquehanna head coach Jim Reed. "A player like Larry Bird always took a lot of shots but no one considered him selfish. He just wanted to win and do what was best for the team. That's kind of how I see Erika. She has a great desire to win. She ended up taking the most shots on our team, but never was there an impression she was doing it for self-glorification.
"She improved throughout her college career, but she really stepped it up this past past season. "She stepped it up competively and she also stepped up her scoring. She always puts winning in front of any personal achievements."
Barron did gain personal milestones for her outstanding season, including a selection to the Landmark Conference First Team All-Star squad. She also set school records for three-pointers in a season (67) and a career (171) and tied a record for assists (10) in a game.
But like her coach said, the awards don't mean much to the Elementary Education major.
"I never, even at Tamaqua, get overly excited about these things (breaking records)," said Barron. "Everyone means well and everybody talks about it and tells you how meaningful they are. I just smile and say thanks. I got a call from my assistant coach to tell me I made first team all-conference. She was more excited for me than I was. I would just rather be playing and winning games. That's my main focus, rather than accepting honors."
Barron received a chance to play right from the start at Susquehanna.
While most freshman see limited playing time, or none at all, the 5-0 guard was thrust into immediate action.
"When you start at the college level as a freshman, that's a huge adjustment for any player to make," said Coach Reed. "But when you do it at the point, that's a whole other story. For most, the period of adjustment is the first half of the year. You're just trying to catch up because the game is faster and the players are better.
"It was a tough position to start as a freshman. While many can ease into a role, she had to step right into it. It was a baptism by fire. And she did a good job right from the beginning."
The adjustments from high school basketball to college are many.
For Barron, a few stuck out over the others.
"I think the adjustment to the shot clock is the biggest change," she said. "There's also the tempo of the game and everybody there is good. Everybody you're competing against is a good athlete. It's also unbelievable how much time and scouting is put in. The scouting reports are ridiculous - some are nine and 10 pages long. You know everything about everybody on the team."
What opponents specifically knew about Barron was her ability to shoot the three-pointer.
At Tamaqua, she excelled from the perimeter hitting an amazing 332 treys. She continued her success there at the collegiate level.
"This year she shot the three much better than she ever had for us," said Reed. "I think she accepted it as this is my strength and this is something I can do to help the team."
Not only did Barron's three-point total improve every year with the Crusaders, but her percentage also rose. This season she shot 36.6 percent (compared to 22.4 her freshman year) to finish second in the conference.
Barron will probably never shoot another three-pointer in competitive action again, except for maybe summer league games or pick-up contests.
That's something that is sinking in for her.
"This year I realized it was my last year and I wanted to go out with a bang," said Barron. "I didn't want to have any regrets. Senior Day was huge for me. I did not want to lose my last game at home. The four (seniors) got together and said this is the last time we're playing here. All of us just went all-out."
Susquehanna won its final home contest, defeating Moravian 78-76. Barron led all players with 29 points, eight assists and five steals.
"In tough games she was never afraid to be the one," said Reed. "She wasn't afraid to take the shot or make the pass. The Moravian game really epitimized that. She put us on her shoulders and carried us in that game. She took the bull by the horns.
"She's also a great student. She's low maintenance and that adds to her being a coach's dream. She's not selfish, plays hard and off the court she's not a problem. I never had to watch over her grades and never had to concern myself or get anxiety over her getting into trouble. She was committed to being a good student and a good basketball player. Her priorities were always in order."