When the St. Louis Surge left the court one season ago at its 2013 home opener, they had recorded not one, but two big wins on the evening.
A 27-point triumph over Atlanta was displayed on the scoreboard and over 2,000 spectators were on hand to watch. Great game, great crowd. Consider it a double victory for the women’s semi-pro basketball franchise.
When the Surge kicks off its Women’s Blue-Chip Basketball League (WBCBL) home campaign this Saturday night, they look for an amplified trifecta: win number six in the 2014 season, friendly revenge on the team that put its lone blemish in the ledger, and another energized audience that filled the bleachers.
The Surge (5-1) battles Minnesota Black Ice (2-1) at 7:05 p.m. at UMSL’s Mark Twain Building (1 University Boulevard, St. Louis, MO.)
The WBCBL is a 48-team semi-pro basketball league that consists of players with prior WNBA experience, collegiate/high school standouts and current international players. Its season competes on weekends from May to July, and its 2014 National Tournament takes place in August.
The Surge currently sits atop the standings in the WBCBL’s six-team Mid West Division and is tied for second in the league’s overall standings.
“We’ve come so far as a team,” said Surge veteran forward Jaleesa Butler in a recent interview. “We’re looking to do big things on the court this year.”
The early projection of the point-producing Butler – a 6’ 1” prep standout at Vashon and Alton, IL that played college hoops at Georgetown – has certainly hit the target thus far in the Surge’s 2014 WBCBL campaign. Three 30-plus-point successes out of the gates, five victories out of six contests overall, and a current two-game winning streak after a June 7 road win over the Kansas Lady Nuggets, 73-63.
Even more impressive is the fact that these early accomplishments were achieved with only four familiar faces returning to this season’s 14-player roster, effectively eliminating any seeds of doubt of a franchise re-build. Alongside Butler, returning Surge players include Bianca Beck (5 ’7”, Southeast Missouri State), Gabriella Green (6’ 1”, Lindenwood University) and Kassidy Shuman (5’ 10”, Quincy University.)
The new arrivals are punctuated by a pair of 6’ 4” powerhouses: Leah Kassing (Bradley University) and Hannah Weedman (Quincy University.) Also making quick impacts this season are Surge newcomers Felicia Loggins (5’ 9”, Quincy University) and Belleville, IL native Rebecca Harris (5’ 8”, University of Illinois.)
The complexion of the Surge roster has evolved as the franchise has evolved over its six years of operation.
“We kind of just had (in the past) St. Louis natives playing for the team,” Butler said. “This year, it’s something special. This year, we have really good players. (They’re) very good people with so much great character.“
That character will be tested again on the court this Saturday night. St. Louis faced Minnesota earlier this season, resulting in its only setback in 2014, a 48-46 loss to the Black Ice on Memorial Day Weekend. Saturday’s visitors are fully prepared to snag another win from the locals.
After falling to the Kansas Nuggets, 80-75, at its season opener, Minnesota notched two straight wins, including the aforementioned 2-point nail biter over the Surge.
Through three games, the Black Ice has four players averaging double-digits, paced by University of Minnesota-Duluth standout Tanysha Scott (14.7 PPG), while Ashley Ellis-Milan (University of Minnesota) leads the team in rebounds.
The task will be tough for St. Louis to collect its third straight win Saturday night. But just like last year, Butler and the rest of the Surge look to net numerous victories at its home opener, both on the floor with competitive game play and within the building by creating newfound excitement for both its faithful and newfound audience.
Adult general admission tickets for the game are $8, students with a valid college/school ID get in for $5, and children five and under are free.
Entertainment at the home opener includes performances from Show Me Sound, Dance Factory and Trickset Flo Show. Giveaways will take place during the night and fans will have a chance to meet members of the Surge following the game.
For those who can’t make it to UMSL this Saturday, the team plays its next three contests at home, including Saturday, June 28 in a re-match versus Kansas.
For more information on the St. Louis Surge, which includes a link to tickets for this Saturday and future games, go to stlsurgebasketball.com.
2014 ST. LOUIS SURGE ROSTER
|23||Samantha Barber||Guard||5’8||U of Wisconsin -Stevens Point||Schofield, WI|
|1||Bianca Beck||Guard||5’7||S.E. Missouri State University||St. Louis, MO|
|30||Jaleesa Butler||Forward||6’1||Georgetown University||St. Louis, MO|
|24||Sydney Crafton||Forward||5’10||University of Missouri||Jefferson City, MO|
|10||Lucy Cramsey||Guard||5’7||Quincy University||Liberty, IL.|
|35||Gabriella Green||Post||6’1||Lindenwood University||St. Louis, MO.|
|13||Rebecca Harris||Guard||5’8||University of Illinois||Belleville, IL.|
|21||Leah Kassing||Post||6’4||Bradley University||Mt.Sterling, IL|
|8||Felicia Loggins||Guard||5’9||Quincy University||South Holland, IL|
|15||Kayla Person||Guard||5’7||Drake University||St. Louis, MO|
|14||Kassidy Shuman||Guard||5’10||Quincy University||Kahoka, MO|
|22||Devonna Smith||Forward||6’0||UMSL||St. Louis, MO|
|51||Hannah Weedman||Post||6’4||Quincy University||Knoxville, IL|
|33||Katie Yohn||Forward||5’11||Bradley University||Elgin, IL|