Force women rise with best in state
IPSWICH Force's most consistent performer Nadeen Payne leaves for South Australia on Wednesday with a bigger smile on her face than usual.
The personality-charged forward is preparing to rejoin the Adelaide Lightning team for the new Women's National Basketball League season.
However, she heads to Adelaide having enjoyed a career highlight in helping Force make their first state league grand final since 1994.
Although Force lost 76-59 to home team Mackay, Payne said the Ipswich side showed its quality by upsetting Gladstone 78-60 in Friday night's semi-final at the same venue.
"It was an unreal effort,'' said Payne, who was regularly Ipswich's top point scorer throughout the Queensland Basketball League season.
"I'm super proud of them. We played as a team and it kind of all came together.''
Guard Courtney Taylor contributed a vital 20 points on Friday night.
Payne top scored against Gladstone with 24 points before sharing the honours with Emma Langford (18 each) in Saturday night's title decider.
"It was bloody tough,'' Payne, 20, said of the final game.
"We were down by 10 throughout the whole game and it was only in the last couple of minutes of the fourth quarter it really kind of blew out to 17.
"It was a real competitive game. That's what we wanted it to be.
"We played hard and we just ran out of legs in the end.''
Payne said Friday night's game at Candlestick Park was exciting with the Mackay crowd cheering Ipswich to upset powerhouse opponents Gladstone.
"I still can't believe it really,'' she said. "It was such a great win against Gladstone.
"It was awesome.
"The Gladstone game was really important for us and we just turned up.
"We knew we could do it. It was a really good feeling.''
Mackay import Rachel Allison took out the MVP award for the defending QBL champions after a solid all-round effort for the Meteorettes with 23 points and 11 rebounds.
Having enjoyed her second year with the Force, Payne was waiting to see what happens after the WNBL season before deciding her state league future.
However, she's been a team favourite with her happy-go-lucky attitude and spirited performances.
State of Play
- QBL women's final: Mackay 76 (Rachel Allison 23) d Ipswich Force 59 (Emma Langford 18, Nadeen Payne 18).
- Semi-finals: Ipswich 78 (Nadeen Payne 24, Courtney Taylor 20, Emma Langford 19) d Gladstone 60 (Jessica Bibby 31); Mackay d Brisbane 69-52.
- Men's final: Rockhampton d Brisbane 102-95.