(ST. LOUIS, MO) If there’s been a consistent arch rival for the St. Louis Surge women’s professional basketball franchise the past few seasons, it’s easily-adjacent neighbor Midwest Flyers Elite.
In fact, the Elsberry, Missouri hoop troop flummoxed St. Louis by ten points at the Elite’s home opener in mid-May to claim the initial top spot within the Midwest Division of the Women’s Blue Chip Basketball League (WBCBL).
Fast-forward, change the venue and potentially re-arrange the narrative.
The Surge managed to do that at the re-match held at their home opener Saturday night at Washington University’s Field House…and then some.
Paced by the team’s nine three-pointers, which included forward Brittany Carter’s 5-for-5 output, St. Louis topped the Elite 103-61 in front of 970 rabid fans.
“This home crowd does it for us,” said Carter of the atmosphere. “You see how excited we get and how hyped they get and that brings our whole energy to the court. It was a great team effort.”
With the eye-opening 42-point victory, St. Louis (3-1) won their third straight and is now tied for first in the five-team Midwest Division with the Flyers (3-1). One could easily say that Saturday’s result was a receipt returned from the prior May meeting.
“We came in with a must-win philosophy with a little bit of revenge,” said Surge Head Coach Tony Condra. “Plus, this was our home opener! You can’t lose the home opener. We had to pour it all out for the fans.”
The triple-digit output by the Surge was the direct effect of a 43-21 final quarter, which was a far stretch from the opening stanza.
After two minutes of scoreless play in the first quarter, the Flyers’ Jordan LaDuke broke the deadlock by converting the back-end of a two shot foul that gave the guests a 1-0 lead.
The Surge responded with back-to-back buckets by starter Kristi Bellock that handed St. Louis a 4-1 edge with 7:05 left in the quarter.
LaDuke drained a pair of free throws that narrowed the deficit to a solo point but the Surge pushed the score to 6-3 at the 6:10 mark with Rebecca Harris’ five-footer.
As the quarter progressed, the Elite’s shooting woes continued from the floor. In fact, Elsberry’s first two-point bucket came with 3:50 left in the first as Shleen Bracey’s ten-footer whittled the Surge’s edge to 6-5.
The teams traded points as the frame progressed and with 1:40 left, the score was tied 11-11.
The Flyers’ Janet Smith hit a trey with 1:05 left that gave the visitors a 14-11 edge but the Surge’s uncontested three bucket sprint in the final minute – consisting of Jordan Jones’ lay-up off an inbounds steal, Bellock’s carom shot with :30 left and Mariah King’s floater at the buzzer – resulted a 17-14 edge for St. Louis at the end of the first.
The Surge’s 12-2 sprint out of the gates in the second – highlighted by Carter’s pair of three-pointers – gave St. Louis a 29-15 advantage with 6:45 left in the half. The differential remained the same with Jones’ lay-up posted with 6:15 left as the Surge held a 31-17 edge.
The Flyers finally quelled the drought with back-to-back buckets that narrowed the score to 31-21 midway through the quarter. Surge reservist Leti Lerma’s ten-footer at the 4:45 mark pushed the score to 33-21.
The locals kept the pressure on as Carter’s third trey of the quarter pushed the score to 36-26 at the 2:30 mark and a pair of Bellock jumpers extended the lead to 40-26 with 1:25 left. When the dust settled on an 8-0 rally finished by Kelsey McClure’s bucket with 1:05 remaining, the Surge held a 44-26 advantage.
With the Surge’s 27-16 output in the second quarter, they possessed a 44-30 lead at intermission.
Carter’s hot hand continued in the second half and with her six-footer scored at the 8:20 mark, the Surge held a 48-32 lead. She later added a trey at 7:45 that pushed the score to 51-33.
St. Louis pushed the differential to twenty points as Bellock’s 14-foot jumper made with 7:10 left widened the score to 53-33. Laura Johnson came off the bench and collected a scoop shot under the bucket with 5:50 remaining for a 55-33 tally.
The Flyers cobbled a 7-5 run in the back half of the third but still trailed 60-40 heading into the final quarter due to the Surge’s 16-10 edge in scoring for the stanza.
St. Louis charged ahead with a 6-0 fourth corner launch, accented by Bianca Latham’s steal and scoop bucket by Carter at the 8:35 mark that made the score 66-40.
Carter connected with her fifth three-pointer with 6:21 left that made the score 74-50. Harris’ added a trey with 4:25 remaining that swelled the advantage to 83-54 and Jones’ three-pointer blossomed the score to 88-54 with 3:30 left.
St. Louis eclipsed the century mark with :50 left as Lerma’s three-pointer, the Surge’s fifth of the quarter, put the exclamation point on the evening.
By outscoring the Elite 43-21 in the final frame, St. Louis netted their third straight triumph with the 103-61 victory.
“This was momentum from what we left from behind the first time,” said Carter, who topped St. Louis scoring ledger with 25 points. “We’re a whole new team from that first game and I think it showed tonight.”
Four Surge players scored double digits for the evening as both Harris and Bellock each scored 22 points while Jones netted 13.
Tenured veterans such as Harris and Jaleesa Butler provided the leadership that has helped the current three-game win streak while the rookies have enthusiastically responded to the challenge.
“The new players are giving 100 percent,” assessed Condra. “They’ve bought in completely and everyone understands their roles. They’re locked in and loaded.”
Next weekend, St. Louis makes a Peach State road trek with a Saturday game with WBCBL Atlantic reps Georgia Stampede (0-3) and a Sunday showdown against undefeated Atlanta Monarchs (7-0).
“That’s gonna be a huge trip,” assessed Carter. “That’s going to be such a different challenge from what we’re used to. Both are tough, physical teams. We gotta get back in the lab this week because we’ve got three huge days of practice.”
The Surge returns to Washington University on Saturday, June 23 to host the aforementioned Monarchs. Tickets for the 7:30 pm contest can be purchased at the team’s official website.
SURGE STATISTICS (Provided by Washington University Athletic Dept.)
SCORING: Brittany Carter 25, Kristi Bellock 22, Rebecca Harris 22, Jordan Jones 13, Leti Lerma 7, Mariah King 5, Kelsey McClure 5, Jaleesa Butler 2, Laura Johnson 2.
SHOOTING: FG 35-79 (44.3%), 3FG 9-26 (34.6%), FT 24-29 (82.9%)