The St. Louis Surge, the defending national champions of the Women’s Blue Chip Basketball League (WBCBL), has its personal “magic number” in place if it wishes to raise back-to-back trophies.
That number would be “5” and the first steps in whittling down that digit begins this Saturday on home turf.
The top-seeded Surge (7-1) meets fourth-seeded Missouri Arch Angels (3-6) in the opening semi-final game at noon and the victor meets the winner of the 2 p.m. semi-final clash between second-seeded Nebraska Strikers (6-2) and fourth-seeded Illinois Shooting Stars (6-5). The WBCBL Mid-West Championship game takes place later that evening at 7 p.m.
If St. Louis collects two straight, and raises a divisional trophy this weekend, its advances to the eight-team WBCBL National Championships the weekend of August 1 in Greenville, South Carolina.
It’s the same scenario that the Surge faced last year in the post-season: five straight wins equals the ultimate prize.
This year as defending champion, the Surge is the targeted team in the WBCBL, but it’s a squad that is more than primed.
A 105-39 exhibition victory over the Springfield (IL) Lady Grizzlies last Saturday at UMSL gave the hoopsters its eighth duke of the campaign. The template heading into this weekend, however, was constructed two months prior.
St. Louis stormed to the top of the WBCBL Mid-West with six straight divisional wins after splitting its first two.
The key to achieving, and sustaining, its success was its depth. Five Surge players averaged double-digits during the regular season. Guard Rebecca Harris blossomed in her sophomore effort, averaging 16 points per game while returnees Jaleesa Butler (14 PPG) and Leah Cotton (13 PPG) also had standout regular seasons.
Cassie Rochel, Raven Berry, Bianca Beck and Brianna Puni also posted solid high outputs while Yelena Rosado, Devonna Smith and Gabriella Green supplemented in important game stretches.
Long story short, the successful Surge regular season was a team effort. The perpetual line-up fielded on the hard court yielded positive results.The 7-1 record was the sum of all its cohesive working parts.
The aforementioned sum is looking for subtraction this weekend. A first-round victory lowers St. Louis’ repeat magic number to “4.”
The Surge’s Saturday semi-final opponent, the Missouri Arch Angels, makes its inaugural entry into the WBCBL post-season. A pair of wins over Mid-West rival Minnesota helped net the AA’s its first-ever tourney berth.
Guard Mia Wesley and center Suzanne Grossnickle come into the post-season with an average of 13 points per contest.
The Arch Angels were 0-2 against the Surge during the regular season but displayed a stronger effort in the latter meeting between the two. They look for a potential semifinal upset Saturday afternoon.
Meanwhile, the other Mid-West semi-final is a proverbial coin-flip. Second-seeded Nebraska was 2-0 over third-seeded Illinois during the regular season, but both contests were nail biters. The Strikers recorded narrow victories in May (79-75) and June (96-95). As a result, a favorite cannot be projected.
Guard Reshea Bristol (11.8 PPG) leads the charge for the Nebraskans while Victoria Smith (10.8 PPG) tops the ledger for Illinois.
All-day passes for Saturday’s action are $10. Surge 2015 season ticket holders, children five and under as well as youth teams that wear their basketball uniforms get in for free.
For more information on the St. Louis Surge, go to stlsurgebasketball.com.