Force showed fighting spirit to hang in and take state title
The 2012 Queensland Times-City of Ipswich Sports Awards will recognise the best regional talent at a gala function on November 3. Team of the year is one of the most coveted awards. QT sportswriter Paul Smeaton today previews the three finalists.
A STATE title is a moment for any athlete to savour.
For the Ipswich Force boys' under-16 basketball team, it was extra special.
After finishing fourth of eight teams in the Southeast Queensland junior basketball competition, coach Craig Daniels' boys weren't expected to challenge teams from across the state during this year's tournament in Townsville.
To go on and make the gold medal game was impressive enough. And when Ipswich trailed Northside Wizards late in the final it seemed second was a great result.
But not for these boys.
The Force fought back in the final stages to record a heart-stopping three-point win.
"We had to work right to the last second," Daniels said of the tight grand final.
"We were down from the start and Kane Bishop shot a big three-pointer in the final three minutes and it just boosted all of the boys and spurred them on to a great win.
"When they finally got in front they were unstoppable."
Four of the championship team - Matineng Leahy, Kane Bishop, Alec Godinet and Brody Baeumler - were named in the Queensland train-on squad. Three of the boys represented the state at the national championships.
"Those boys were great but it was a total team performance," Daniels said.
"Different boys stepped up at different times and played for one another."
Daniels said the team was the best he had ever had the pleasure to coach and the nomination was a great boost for basketball.
"It's a big surprise to be nominated in such a strong rugby league region," he said.
"Hopefully the boys' efforts inspire other basketballers to bigger and better things."