By Roderick Wilbon, Sports Editor
The Saint Louis Surge is a Women’s Professional Basketball team, competing in the Women’s Blue Chip Basketball League (WBCBL).
The Surge host all home games at Washington University’s Gary M. Sumers Recreation Center. The owner, Khalia Collier, is also the General Manager of the team. The team has flourished immensely under Collier both on the court and in the eyes of the public. Her philosophy of character and then talent leads to the leadership she has in place, which includes the coaching staff of the team: Head Coach Tony Condra; Assistant Coach Aline Roy; and Assistant Coach Gabriella Green.
The Surge is a well-balanced team of talent from top to bottom. Starting with Rebecca Harris (13) at point guard, Harris is a traditional point guard meaning she starts games with running the offense and setting up plays for her shooting guards, forwards, and centers. Late in games she can be let loose by the coach and she goes on an offensive minded tear into opponents. They play great team defense and great on the ball defense. It does not hurt to have Tori Waldner (44) at 6’5” as your rim protector and rebound machine. Surrounding her with forwards that have ball-handling skills and rebound skills such as Patrice Butler, Sherise Williams, Kristi Bellock, and Jaleesa Butler does not hurt either.
Coming into this 2017 season, the Surge had pressure and a huge target on their backs. The reigning champs from 2016 found out Saint Louis would host the 2017 WBCBL National Tournament. The Surge played superb during this regular season, going undefeated 10-0. Most games were not close, especially those in which the last two minutes Rebecca Harris takes over the game. This was encouraging to the fans that the team would go back to back as champions.
The WBCBL National Tournament took place August 5 and 6 at Fontbonne University-Mabee Gymnasium. The tournament had eight teams spanning from across the United States. The Surge’s first round opponent did not make it to town because of travel issues, which automatically put them in the semi-final game. Back to back champs was on most of the fans’ mind after the news came out. The other side of the bracket was fierce though, and the Georgia Soul stood out quickly.
The George Soul a team almost just as well balanced as the Surge from top to bottom. The only slight difference in the team would come from the forward position. The Soul’s forwards were less athletic and skilled. Khadijiah Cave (55) starting at center for The Soul was flat-out dominant in the low post in all their matches. Rebounding, blocking shots, blocking-out and making good put-back baskets It seemed the team would go win or lose with how well she played.
The Surge and Soul met in the finals on Sunday. The crowd was twice the size of any other game of the tournament. In the crowd, you could see some representatives of Saint Louis; such as The Treasurer of the City of Saint Louis and Build-A-Bear Founder Maxine Clark. Both teams came out aggressive and a noticeable change in the Souls lineup was starting both the centers Khadijiah Cave and Wilka Montout (13). It was not till the fourth quarter with seven minutes left in the game that the Surge were up by 20 on the Soul. Great point guard play would take over for the Soul by Lacoya Terry (25) and they would tie the game with two mins left. The crowd biting their nails would swoon and start to chant louder for the home team the Surge.
Just like most of the games when it was close it was time to unleash Rebecca Harris. It became a neck and neck showdown between starting point guards. Seconds left in the game the Soul up by one point and the Surge would inbound the ball to Rebecca Harris. She would take the ball down the court to pull up for a good look at a mid-range jump-shot. The crowd held its breath total silence took over as the ball bounced around the rim. Brick, 63-64 and the Georgia Soul would win to become the 2017 WBCBL National Champs.
“We weren’t worried about trading buckets with them, starting my two centers was the defensive strategy to keep them from scoring early,” said Head Coach of the Georgia Soul. “We were worried about Rebecca Harris and I’ve been studying her moves lately, she just came up short.”
“After our last game with 37 points in the paint I knew they would came at us with two bigs,” said Head Coach Tony Condra. “We had a few break downs; but basketball is about runs. We went on a run and then they went on a late run, like a boxing match. Congratulations to them though.”