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After this reporter covered a personal-high three softball games in the same day, which I did two Saturdays ago, covering back-to-back basketball games last Saturday night in downtown Minneapolis was relatively easy as a result.

Ashley Ellis-Milan executed a turnaround lay-up in the lane with a minute to play, and Tamara Moore and Pam January later hit three of four free throws in the Minnesota Black Ice’s 48-44 win over the St. Louis Surge in the nightcap game last Saturday in Women’s Blue Chip Basketball League (WBCBL) action. At least 100 people, including Minnesota Lynx center Janel McCarville, who stayed after the Lynx’s fourth win of the year, watched a very entertaining, though rough in spots, contest.

“It was fun,” said Ellis-Milan, who finished with nine points and eight rebounds. “I can play free and play with girls who know what they are doing as well.”

 Ice Coach Faith Johnson Patterson Photo by Charles Hallman

Ice Coach Faith Johnson Patterson
Photo by Charles Hallman

The WBCBL, founded in 2004, is for women age 20 and older, says its website. Its season begins in mid-May, runs through early August, and features over 40 teams around the country. “It is a really good, competitive league,” explained Tamara Moore, a former WNBA first-round pick.

Our Black Ice plays its home games at North Central Bible College on Chicago Avenue — their last two games have been part of WNBA-WBCBL doubleheaders. The team also played the warm-up game against the Chicago Steam prior to the Minnesota Lynx-Chicago Sky Memorial Day matinee on Monday.

It’s not a “girls’ night out” league, however.

His team “allows young women to showcase their talent,” notes Ice Assistant Coach Dedric Willis, who also is the team owner. “It [also] is a Christian league. All of the [league team] owners have a strong spiritual base,” he explains. “We are using basketball as a vehicle to reach the un-churched.”

“We are building a special organization here in St. Louis,” adds Surge Assistant Coach Angela Lewis.

Two former Gophers, McCarville and Ellis-Milan briefly talked after last weekend’s contest before being ushered out by arena staff waiting to shut off the lights. “It’s unfortunate that Target Center really didn’t do a good job preparing people to watch this,” said Ice Coach Faith Johnson Patterson.

She told the MSR that she’s thankful to Willis for offering her the opportunity to coach semi-pro ball.

“These ladies have played college basketball and played overseas and have been playing a number of years,” said Johnson Patterson of the 15-player roster. “They play hard and work hard, and the chemistry is really good.  I love the competitiveness.”

Willis said that he hopes the Ice’s 20-game regular season schedule will qualify them in the WBCBL regional tournament in St. Louis July 27-28. The winners will then go on to the nationals in New Orleans August 5-8.

“Even though we have the Lynx,” concluded Johnson Patterson, “there are still a lot of women who still can play basketball. There’s enough room, so that means we need more leagues. The time is right for women’s basketball.”

 

Read about tanking NBA games on “Sports Odds and Ends” on this week’s MSR website.

Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to [email protected]

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