For the sixth time in the last two seasons, two of the top WBCBL teams squared off in another battle on the hardwood.
On Saturday night the Midwest Flyers traveled to Washington University Field House to take on the St. Louis Surge. Both teams have spent time as the top team in the league this year and just like every other time, this contest was a barn burner from start to finish.
It was the Surge striking first as they started the game with a run that made Flyers Coach Brittney Koch-Dowell call a quick timeout.
“We came out sluggish. We can’t do that against the Surge, they have too many deadly weapons,” said Koch-Dowell. “I told them they needed to wake up. It’s win or go home. If you don’t want to be here, lets just pack our stuff and go home.”
The Flyers responded and held the Surge scoreless for the next eight minutes as they held a 16-12 lead at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter both teams hammered on each other defensively with the Surge holding a 38-37 lead at the half.
The play of first time starters Sharese Jones and Hasina Muhammad led the Flyers offensively.
Having both Jones and Muhammad in the starting lineup for the first time this season paid dividends.
“I felt that a change needed to be made. Winkie [Sharese Jones] is one of our top players and she responded to starting,” said Koch-Dowell. “Hasina [Muhammad] is a gamer and playing pretty well. She has finally got back in the groove.”
Both those players took the Flyers on two separate runs of 8-0 and 7-0.
A couple mistakes and an issue with a timeout not being called allowed for a heated locker room.
“We had back-to-back turnovers and then I had to chase a referee all the way down the court and still couldn’t get the timeout called,” said Koch-Dowell. “That could have been a momentum turn.”
According to Koch-Dowell the referee stated he was unable to hear due to the music being played during play.
“I told them we are on the road and right were we needed to be,” said Koch-Dowell. “We are in striking distance.”
Despite the issues ending the second quarter, the Flyers were able to leave those in the locker room and came out with a dominant third quarter.
The third quarter has been an Achilles heal for the Flyers all season, but Jordan LaDuke caught fire from the corner hitting back-to-back three pointers giving her team a 54-52 lead as they started the fourth.
“We won the third quarter and thought we had the game,” said Koch-Dowell.
A sluggish start to the fourth and as well as the fact that Surge’s Jaleesa Butler and Rebecca Harris caught fire meant that the Flyers were going to have to do everything right.
“We didn’t have a defensive answer for Butler and when Rita [Adams] hit that three to tie it and Harris answered it just killed the momentum,” said Koch-Dowell. “From that point we couldn’t buy a lay-up.”
The 90-79 final score loss was not indicative of how the game was played. A total of 14 lead changes and eight ties showed a hard fought battle.
“We beat ourselves,” said Koch-Dowell. “Overall I think we put a little bit of a scare in the Surge. We are just one player away which means we have to have someone else step-up.”
On offense Muhammad led the Flyers with 23 points followed by 13 points each from Jones, LaDuke and Kari Koch-Dowell. Kari also had 11 assists and seven steals
The Flyers will close out the regular season on Saturday as they welcome the Music City Icons back to Elsberry at 7 p.m. The Flyers defeated the Icons by 45 points earlier in the season.