From Small ball to state league, Catherine stood out early
AS a coach, few aspects of sport are more satisfying than recognising a home grown talent early and seeing them blossom at a higher level.
Ipswich Force head coach Terry Lindeberg experienced that joy after watching three-point ace Catherine Macgregor top score in his team's latest 88-78 Queensland State League (QSL) victory.
The former West Moreton Anglican College student was in fine form hitting five three-pointers in her 27 point tally against USC Rip City at JBS Arena.
"It was a very good game by her at this level,'' Lindeberg said, delighted with his side's third win of the season.
"She's getting more involved, getting more confidence, putting her shots up.''
But Lindeberg always knew she had the potential.
"I was doing Small Ball (sessions) when she came down at about a five-year-old kid,'' Lindeberg recalled.
"I spent a couple of weeks with her and I said 'this kid's too good for that' and I moved her over to Aussie Hoops (with older basketballers).''
As he continued to work with her through the grades and at state titles, Lindeberg always rated MacGregor a player of the future.
Lindeberg was also thrilled to see another Ipswich product Iris Cubit (17 points) have another terrific game on Saturday night along with seasoned performer Rachel Mate (24).
They scored more than Force co-captain Amy Lewis (14) who enjoyed seeing the younger players step up.
Even when Rip led early and the gap was reduced to one point, a confident Lewis knew the Ipswich side was progressing well enough to defy their opponents.
The combined contributions of MacGregor, Mate and Cubit matched Rip's dangerous opponent Madison Rocci with 36 points. She was kept to six points in the third quarter.
Adding to Lindeberg's match highlights was 18-year-old recruit Claudia Ott also gaining valuable court time.
"She come on and had 14 unbelievable minutes,'' Lindeberg said, most pleased with her intensity.
"She's really improving in leaps and bounds.''
Although still out of the top four zone, the Force women are gaining some momentum.
"They are starting to come together,'' Lindeberg said.
"Every week they are improving and that's the big thing.''
The Force men had another commanding night, beating USC Rip City 104-72.
Ipswich's fifth win from seven games keeps them in the hunt for a top four spot.
While head coach Chris Riches keeps a keen eye on the all-important for and against percentages, he was pleased with Ipswich's latest victory built on powerful defence.
"Rip City are always a team though that you have to be very, very cautious with,'' he said.
"They have a lot of hustle in their team. They are very much like us. They have a lot of locals in their program.
"For us, our focus over the course of the week was being able to match their intensity.
"That's four (wins) in a row so for us this is a really good stretch of basketball we are playing at the moment.''
Riches was especially thrilled with his team's third quarter where Force scored 31 and held Rip to 12 points.
"This is actually the first game that we've won all four quarters of basketball,'' he said.
Bullets recruit Nathan Sobey led the way with 32 points, well supported by Kane Bishop (19) and Jesse Ghee (17).
"Nathan was Nathan - just fantastic,'' Riches said, pleased with how everyone is supporting the star addition.
Ghee is recovering from a shoulder injury.
"He hasn't been at 100 per cent,'' Riches said "He's now turned the corner and he's started to make some significant steps in regard to his recovery with that.
"Last night he was shooting a lot better, he felt a lot better, which is always beneficial for us.''
But it's not only points that Riches looks at. Hustle and intensity are crucial in the QSL.
"Everyone is kind of clicking into what their role is,'' Riches said.
"Across the board last night it was really nice to see so many guys contributing.''
The Ipswich Force teams travel to Runaway Bay for their next QSL matches against North Gold Coast on Saturday night.
STATE OF PLAY
QSL Division 1 men: Ipswich Force 104 (Nathan Sobey 32, Kane Bishop 19, Jesse Ghee 17) def USC Rip City 72.
QSL Division 1 women: Ipswich Force 88 (Catherine Macgregor 27, Rachel Mate 24, Iris Cubit 17) def USC Rip 78.