Local artist Rueben Lael performed the National Black Anthem – Photo courtesy of Dallas Wings

(The Dallas Examiner) – Despite their efforts, the Dallas Wings WNBA basketball team came up short against the Seattle Storm as the Storm defeated the Wings 109-103 at College Park Center in Arlington, June 17. 

Over 5,000 fans attended the game as the Wings also celebrated Juneteenth during African American Heritage night at the arena.

Local artist Rueben Lael performed the National Black Anthem as a part of the game’s pregame activities. 

As part of the ceremony, the Black Sports Professionals of North Texas were presented with a contribution from the Dallas Wings Community Foundation that gave away scholarships for high school, undergraduate and graduate students seeking or pursuing careers in the sports industry.

The program also included an Urban Trivia game, Black Girl Magic Museum mobile exhibit offered photo opportunities, Paul Quinn College was recognized as the local HBCU and commemorative Wings Juneteenth t-shirt were given to the first 1,000 fans.

During the game, players on both teams put on a show for the crowd scoring over 100 points offensively. The Wings were led by guard Arike Ogunbowale with 41 points, which included a career high seven three pointers. Satou Sabally put in another 25 points and 5 assists to help the Wings stay close throughout the game, which had 18 lead changes and eight ties.

Dallas was down by four points after the first quarter, 22-26, and by eight points during half-time, 47-55.

Halftime performances included the XPlosive Grenades Step Team and a performance by the Bandan Koro African Drum & Dance Ensemble who had dancers perform to African drumbeats. Clover the Violinist showcased her talents on the violin as well. 

During the third quarter, the Wings took control and were able to lead by two points headed into the fourth quarter, 77-75.

In the fourth quarter, the game was tight throughout, with Seattle leading, but the Wings were able to get within one point of Seattle with four minutes to go. However, a few three pointers with less than two minutes left in the ball game by Storm’s Jewell Loyd, who led Seattle with 39 points, helped seal the victory for them.

The Wings also had a season high with 23 assists, with each Dallas starter having three assists each. They also scored 50 points in the paint. 

Despite the Wings defensive efforts, Seattle would have an answer offensively with their three point shooting.

Wings Head Coach Latricia Trammell, who is in her first season as head coach, explained the importance of the team starting the game strong. 

“We had lapses in the first quarter,” Trammell said. “Obviously, we took little positions off, and so it goes back to you what they were capable of doing. And so we’ve just got to make sure that we start off strong. Like I just told them, you’ve got to play the first quarter like it’s the fourth, and the third quarter like it’s the second. I mean, you’ve got to put four quarters together. But I love the effort of these players. Kalani [Brown] had a tooth pulled yesterday. We have players out and she came back and did the best that she possibly can. They’re number one fast break. We held them to seven. And so, there’s a lot of good things to build on. And that’s definitely what we’re going to do when we get back and watch film.”

The Wings are currently in third place in the Western Conference of the WNBA and are looking to make it further into the playoffs this season. 

Trammell said the team is still growing and to be patient. 

“Give it a chance,” Trammell stated. “You know what I mean. Give it a chance. Move a little bit more, be a little bit more patient. And that’s a love hate because you’ve seen some big players make some big shots when we need them. We saw it today. But you know the flow of the game and again, we’ve got to be a little bit more disciplined.”

Trammell discussed the Juneteenth celebration the team highlighted as well.

“I know coming out of one time out, some of the timeout entertainment was unbelievable,” she said. “But you know, we talked about that prior to the game, and that’s why I love this league like I do. Because we embrace every culture, I mean, we allow players to use their platform. I talked about Opal Lee prior to the game and her walking 1,400 miles, a little bit more and the importance of that. I’m so glad I’m a part of an organization that wants to do that, that wants to bring people in to continue to move forward with change like I told the players previously. Yeah, we’re celebrating today. That should be a celebration every day.”

As far as Trammell’s assessment of the season so far, she believes the Wings are moving forward. 

“I think just the offensive end, I mean having multiple players that can score, we do a great job, first in the league in offensive rebounding,” she said. “We’re first in the league in pace. We’re first in the league in rebounding. And so those are the things that, just to name a few, some of the things that you can definitely build on. I’m just honored and proud to be the head coach of this team and I can’t wait to continue to move forward with them. Onward and upward.”

Ogunbowale believes the team still has a lot to look forward to despite the loss.

“Losses just come with the season, and we still have a long season to go with 29 or something games left,” Ogunbowale said. “We just have to shake this loss off. We have to start games strong like we did in the third quarter during today’s game. If we come off with some intensity in the first half, we’ll be ok.”

Ogunbowale also praised the WNBA for highlighting Juneteenth.

“I think it’s dope and that the WNBA is inclusive and celebrates minorities, and I love seeing them celebrate Juneteenth,” she said.

Diane Xavier received her bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Texas A&M University in 2003. She has been a journalist for over 20 years covering everything from news, sports, politics and health....

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