After the successful launch of its local campaign last weekend, the St. Louis Surge returns to the home court tomorrow night, looking to collect its fourth straight win.
In Women’s Blue Chip Basketball League (WBCBL) action, the Surge (6-1) hosts the Kansas Nuggets (4-2) Saturday at 7:05 p.m. at UMSL’s Mark Twain Building (1 University Boulevard, St. Louis, MO.)
The event is billed as “Veterans and Public Service Night,” where those with either a military ID in hand or wearing a public service uniform will receive a “Special Hero’s Rate” of $5 per ticket. Adult general admission is $8, students with a valid college or school ID get in for $5, and children five and under are free.
There were plenty of heroines on the hardwood last Saturday as the women’s semi-pro basketball franchise won its home opener over the Minnesota Black Ice, 97-68. The team’s third consecutive victory, however, did not come easy as the visitors kept the action tight throughout.
“We maintained the lead the entire game, but it was still very close,” said Surge Owner and General Manager Khalia Collier of the win. “We were in foul trouble and (Minnesota was) shooting double bonus halfway through the second quarter. There were a lot of free throws, which really slowed-up the tempo of the game.”
Up 43-36 at intermission, St. Louis extended its lead to only nine points, 61-52, at the conclusion of the third…and then the hard charge began.
Rebecca Harris (6’, Illinois), Lucy Cramsey (5’ 7”, Quincy University) and Jaleesa Butler (6’ 1”, Georgetown) helped engineer a 12-2 Surge run to start the fourth quarter, which extended the locals’ lead to 73-54.
“Our three top players had a stand out game in every aspect,” said Collier of the trio’s amplitude. “Just phenomenal hustle plays and intensity that never left the court.”
Complimented by Katie Yohn (5’ 11”, Bradley), Leah Kassing (6’ 4”, Bradley) and Amber Dvorak (6’ 7”, Drury), the Surge outscored Minnesota 36-16 in the final frame to pick up the 29-point victory and maintain its top position in the WBCBL Mid-West Division standings.
The supplemental voltage for the Surge Saturday was provided by the home opener’s attendance, over 2,000 spectators that enthusiastically propelled the squad. Collier immediately recognizes that having the home court edge, after competing its first six games of the WBCBL campaign on the road, was important in last week’s win and a component for future success.
“We played four different home openers at the start of the season and to see what we’ve created (here), and what we’ve built, it put (the players) in a special place,” she said. “The advantage is having that atmosphere, that hometown atmosphere, with them being able to play in front of their families.”
Tomorrow night, the Surge faces Kansas for the second time this season. St. Louis won the first meeting between the two, 73-63, at the Nuggets’ home opener on June 7.
“Kansas is always a big rival for us,” Collier said of the opposition. “They always have a very solid team. Last time we played, we were up by 24 points and blew a lead. It showed signs that they have the chance of a strong comeback. We beat them at their home opener and I know that they’re itching to get back at us.”
After flying out of the gates with four straight wins, Kansas has dropped its last two contests. Following the aforementioned loss to the Surge, the Nuggets succumbed to the Illinois Shooting Stars, 70-60, last Saturday in East St. Louis and dropped to 4-2 on the season.
The Nuggets are paced in scoring by guards Leah Cotton (5’ 8”, Minnesota) and Dayon Hall-Jones (5’ 4”, UMKC). Ashley Jappa (6’ 1”, Oklahoma State), Jade Tinner (6’, UMKC) and Brittany English (6’, Park University) are probable starters at the forward position.
With the Surge eyeing its fourth straight duke, Collier expects another impressive, voltaic output tomorrow night at UMSL, both on the court and in the stands.
“You’re going to see an action-packed, entertaining game,” she said. “Our theme this year is ‘Experience the Evolution.’ You’re experiencing the evolution of women’s sports and most people will say that women’s sports is such a tough sell. It’s not a tough sell, it just depends on who’s selling it. I think the Surge has done a great job as a whole of producing the product of family entertainment at an affordable price.”
For more information on the St. Louis Surge, which includes a link to tickets for tomorrow night and future games, go to stlsurgebasketball.com.