Force men find QBL identity
AFTER nailing back-to-back three pointers to force overtime, Ipswich captain Zarryon Fereti sensed a change in his team.
He was right.
The Ipswich Force men rallied as a unit to finish the job in a thrilling 88-82 extra-time state league victory over Townsville.
It was a remarkable win on the first leg of a testing road trip.
Although Force lost Saturday night's game 109-95 to Cairns, Fereti was upbeat about the weekend performances.
"Even though we lost the second game, everyone was really happy,'' said the leader nicknamed "Z''.
"We definitely turned the corner as a team.''
Fereti said the road trip provided a chance to unify the squad, producing Ipswich's third win of the season after some frustrating earlier results.
With a home game against South West Metro on Saturday night, Fereti is hopeful Force can launch another strong finish, like they did last year on their way to the finals.
"It's just fine-tuning,'' Fereti said. "Especially because we've been struggling as a team to try and find our identity as a group.
"It was really good to go on the road trip. We got to bond a bit.''
Fereti praised coach Mick Conlon for his decision-making in Townsville, especially his time out calls and substitutions.
Fereti said beating Townsville on their home court was Force's best win of the season.
He set up the victory with his team trailing by nine points with just over a minute to go.
After Kyle Harvey landed a decisive basket, Fereti stepped up with his consecutive three-pointers as the clock ticked down to six seconds.
The home side were unable to make a final shot with the scores deadlocked at 72-72.
In five minutes of overtime, Force completed the ascension with James Legan scoring 31 points, Harvey finishing with 23 and Jason Ralph adding 14.
"We did really well defensively,'' Fereti said.
"It was probably the first time this year, as a team, we really gelled together.
"Not everybody shot very well but we just found a way to win, which is really really good.''
In Saturday night's match, the Force men fought hard again after leading in the first quarter before the home team hit seven consecutive three-pointers.
Legan again top scored with 23, with Harvey contributing 20.
While the Force men received a massive boost, the Ipswich women had a tough time on the road.
Ipswich went down 89-67 to Townsville on Friday night before falling 78-69 to Cairns.
It was the first time this season Force lost back-to-back games.
"We didn't play as well as we have been,'' coach Brad George said after his team was left with a six win-four loss season record.
However, he was confident the Force women would bounce back against South West on Saturday night after a more settled week.
"It's really demanding on the body and it's all the travel,'' he said of the northern road trip.
- QBL men: Cairns 109 def Ipswich Force 95 (James Legan 23, Kyle Harvey 20, Zarryon Fereti 13, Jason Ralph 13); Ipswich Force 88 (James Legan 31, Kyle Harvey 23, Jason Ralph 14) def Townsville 82 in overtime.
- QBL women: Cairns 78 def Ipswich Force 69 (Chelsie Schweers 20, Bree Farley 15, Brandi Brown 13); Townsville 89 def Ipswich Force 67 (Chelsie Schweers 24, Brandi Brown 13).
- Next games: Saturday night v South West Metro at Ipswich stadium.