Force men fire in top tune-up
IT was an incredible contrast in home court performances but thankfully the best teams won.
The Ipswich Force women lacked their usual motivation in a lacklustre 80-70 victory over Northside Wizards.
Trailing by 10 points late in the Queensland Basketball League match, the fourth-placed Force played as if under a spell by the Wizards.
It took some late scoring magic from Chelsie Schweers (32 points) and robust defence from Lauren O'Sullivan, Sigourney Thompson and Brandi Brown to salvage an Ipswich victory.
However, fast forward into the next game at Ipswich stadium and it was a completely different Force team. The men were focused and on fire.
Seventh-placed Ipswich's 115-105 victory over fifth-placed Northside secured the home side a deserved quarter-final at Booval in two weeks.
American James Legan typified the positive tempo, scoring his team's first 11 points, including three exciting three-pointers.
"That was definitely one of the best teams in the comp so to win last night was pretty good," Legan said yesterday.
"Having a home quarter-final in the first round of the playoffs is good for the club, good for the team."
After his dazzling early shooting display, Houston-based Legan finished with 32 points.
Force's top scorer was Zarryon Fereti (36), who received excellent support from Kyle Harvey (19).
Martin Iti gave another dunk display with Rory Sutton, Jason Ralph and Daniel Sims making important contributions.
"Everybody was itching to play," Legan said.
"I've never had a bye week in the QBL so we just wanted to get out there and play.
"I'm enjoying it."
In front of one of the biggest home crowds this season, Force showed what they can deliver in their ninth win of the season.
Force led 56-47 at halftime after a polished first quarter, establishing an eight-point advantage.
Apart from a few jitters leading up to three-quarter time (trailing 82-81), Force played with purpose.
"We have those lapses. We're not a perfect team," Legan said.
"We got back on top and stayed there.
"I'm proud of the team and everybody's effort."
By contrast, Force women's coach Brad George conceded his team lacked motivation knowing they had qualified for the QBL finals.
"We always felt that it was probably going to come in the next couple of weeks," George said. "I think they are already waiting to play in the playoffs."
Both Force teams face Gold Coast away on Sunday before focusing on the finals.
How they respond will be intriguing after Saturday night's displays.
State of play
- QBL men: Ipswich Force 115 (Zarryon Fereti 36, James Legan 32, Kyle Harvey 19) d Northside 105.
- QBL women: Ipswich Force 80 (Chelsie Schweers 32, Sigourney Thompson 16) d Northside 70.