If there was ever a local franchise that was inching closer to “dynasty” status, it would arguably be the St. Louis Surge women’s professional basketball franchise.
The defending national champions of the Women’s Blue Chip Basketball League (WBCBL) have appeared in the governing body’s trophy finale the past three seasons. Along with their prize claimed last August, St. Louis also snared WBCBL hardware in 2014 and altogether during the three-year stretch, the Surge have posted a 38-5 record.
This Saturday launches the Surge’s defense of the WBCBL national title – and the quest of a repeat – in a road game against the Iowa Force at the University of Iowa-Des Moines campus.
The Surge finished last year’s championship campaign 13-2 and will play their first five games of an upcoming ten-game regular season on the road. Afterwards, five straight home games will be held at the team’s new local Washington University Fieldhouse venue beginning June 10.
In the Surge’s twelve-player 2017 charter, six veterans return from last year’s championship roster. Longtime guard Rebecca Harris (5-8, Illinois) topped the scoring ledger with a 17-point per game average last season and brings solid defensive skills on the hard court.
Forward Jaleesa Butler (6-1, Georgetown) adds her 13-point average to the offense while both guard Leah Cotton (5-8, Minnesota) and forward Michala Johnson (6-4, University of Madison/Wisconsin) each added 11 points per game last season.
To complete the Surge’s sage sextet, guard Bianca (Beck) Latham (6.1 PPG) and 6-5 center Tori Waldner are both back for another campaign.
As a result of their second WBCBL trophy claimed last year, the Surge tryouts held earlier this year were intense and the end result contained a plethora of new local entrants. The six that the Surge brain trust added to the 2017 charter each competently contains the skill sets needed for the team to achieve future success.
Forward Kristi Bellock (6-1, Texas A & M) brings international experience to the table. The Louisiana native averaged nine points per contest during the Aggies’ 2012-13 season. Recently, she has competed with Germany’s Herner TC women’s basketball team, where she contributed 11 points per contest.
6-1 forward Sherise Williams had a standout career at McCluer High School, scoring over 1,000 points and grabbing more than 900 rebounds in a four-year span. In her collegiate career at Mississippi State, she finished with 90 triumphs, topping the school’s record book.
Krysten Crawford, a six-foot forward, was designated All-State Kansas honors in 2011 following her senior year at Augusta High. In college, she played for the Missouri Western Griffins and was noted for her three-point shooting and positive work ethic.
Recent collegiate graduate Leti Lerma is a newcomer to the pro ranks. A three-year All-State prep selection from Muscatine, Iowa, the 5-10 guard’s collegiate career at Bradley University saw her notch a 26-point output against Evansville this past February.
Texan sparkplug Jordan Jones, a 2012 McDonald’s High School All-American, had a solid four-year career at Texas A & M. She finished third all-time in assists with 707 career dishes while finishing seventh in career steals. The 5-6 guard recently completed a rotation with Poland’s TS Ostrovia.
Finally, center Patrice Butler (6-2, Georgia Southern) was the primary component of her hometown Norcross, Georgia’s 29-3 record and 2011 state title win. At Georgian Southern, she scored over 800 career points and averaged double-digits per contest in her final seasons while achieving Sun Belt Academic Commissioner’s List status.
This line-up certainly provides the firepower needed to claim an opening season victory that sets the tone for another trophy.
The Surge’s Saturday’s host, the Iowa Force, has been a fixture of the WBCBL Midwest for numerous seasons and competed at the Midwest Division playoffs last July.
The Force defeated divisional rival Kansas City Majestics last Saturday, 86-73, in an exhibition that did not apply to either squad’s overall record. Regardless, Iowa desires to topple the Surge and snare an early lead in the Division hierarchy. In the KC game, Iowa veteran guard Annessa Rosch scored 22 points while newcomer Misha Powell added 20. Rookie Steph Kingery and returnee Tia Mays also added double-digits in the win.
With a game in hand, the Force will look for home cookin’ in order to record an upset.
Meanwhile, the Surge looks to power up for their opener and make sparks fly.
For more information on Surge basketball, go to their official website.