(ST. LOUIS, MO) Saturday night, the St. Louis Surge women’s semi-pro basketball team took one giant step in its quest for a national title in the Women’s Blue Chip Basketball League (WBCBL) and, as a result, travels next weekend to the Crescent City.
Paced by an explosive third quarter, and high-percentage free throw shooting, the Surge defeated the Kansas Nuggets, 104-76, in the title game of the WBCBL Mid-West Region Tournament at UMSL’s Mark Twain Building.
With the 28-point victory, St. Louis (11-1) advances to the WBCBL National Championships, set to begin Friday in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Surge’s first-round opponent and the game’s tip-off time will be released shortly.
After defeating Illinois Shooting Stars, 80-66, earlier in the day in the semifinals, the Surge was challenged early and often by the Nuggets, a team that was looking for redemption following a pair of losses to St. Louis earlier in the season.
After the Surge led 6-2 following Lucy Cramsey’s 12-foot jump shot with 8:35 left in the first, Kansas tied the game, 6-6, two possessions later off of Dayon Hall-Jones’ floating jumper. Jones connected with a three-pointer two minutes later to give the Nuggets its first lead of the contest, 9-8.
Kansas stretched its lead to 24-18 with 1:00 left in the quarter, but the Surge kept pace and narrowed the deficit to four points, 24-20, with Jaleesa Butler’s three-foot put back with :55 left in the frame.
Cramsey and Butler connected with buckets to start the second quarter that tied the score, 24-24, one minute deep. Kansas notched four points straight to possess a 28-24 edge with 8:00 left in the half.
The Surge went on a 6-0 push over the next three possessions and flipped the scoreboard to its favor. Amber Dvorak’s bank-shot at 7:45 was followed by Cramsey’s jumper :15 later that tied the score, 28-28. Rebecca Harris’ floating runner with 6:45 left in the quarter gave the Surge back the lead, 30-28.
Over the next five minutes, both teams continued to trade points and kept the contest even, 41-41, with 1:55 left in the half.
At the 1:15 mark, Katie Yohn’s three-pointer from the left side put the Surge back on top, 44-41. The lead at intermission remained at three points, 48-45, following Butler’s lay-up with :05 left.
The break-neck scoring pace found in the opening half carried over to the opening stages of the second half…at least by one team. To start the third frame, the Surge exploded with a 9-0 run in the first three minutes.
Cramsey and Leah Kassing each converted a pair of free throws to launch the attack. A forced turnover on the Nuggets’ next possession resulted in a 3-on-1 Surge scamper, finished by Butler’s lay-up with 8:20 left to extend the lead to 54-45.
Under the Surge bucket one minute later, an inbound lob to Kassing resulted in a bank-shot made while being fouled. The ensuing three-point play finished the rally and gave the Surge its first double-digit lead of the title tilt, 57-45, with 7:15 left in the third.
The momentum continued throughout the quarter via the multifaceted attack, which widened the differential. Dvorak’s four-foot bank shot with 3:50 left pushed the Surge’s lead to 70-53. Another Yohn three-pointer with 1:55 remaining gave St. Louis its first 20-point margin of the contest, 75-55.
As hot as the Surge were from the field, they were equally as effective from the charity stripe, converting all nine free throws in the frame.
The Surge finished the third quarter outscoring the Nuggets, 36-12, and headed into the fourth with a commanding 84-57 lead.
Kansas kept pace in the final quarter, but the Surge posted a 7-0 rally with three minutes left to clinch the title. Samantha Barber’s 20-foot jumper with 2:40 remaining put St. Louis into triple-digits, 100-71.
The Surge outscored the Nuggets, 20-19, to pick up the 104-76 WBCBL Mid-West Regional title victory and earn a trip to the three-day national tournament in New Orleans.
Five Surge players recorded double-digits in the scoring books, paced by Butler’s 26. Kassing added 17 points and both Harris and Cramsey contributed 16. St. Louis converted 21-24 shots (87.5%) from the free-throw line, which included 16 made in a row.
All the regions within in WBCBL held tournaments this weekend and the governing league marketed the post-season series as “Win or Go Home.” After notching the top spot in the Mid-West Saturday at home, the Surge are now prime to “Go and Win Big” in New Orleans.
For more information on the St. Louis Surge, go to stlsurgebaskteball.com.
SURGE SCORING: Jaleesa Butler 26, Leah Kassing 17, Lucy Cramsey 16, Rebecca Harris 16, Katie Yohn 14, Amber Dvorak 4, Hannah Weedman 4, Gabriella Green 4, Devonna Smith 3, Samantha Barber 2, Felisha Loggins 2.
The following recap was constructed via online footage provided by the St. Louis Surge.