High-flying Ipswich team up with best in state league
IN equal first place with the state league finals looming, the Ipswich Force women tackle a traditionally tough doubleheader overflowing with confidence.
Force can focus on next weekend's road trip to Mackay and Rockhampton buoyed by another productive weekend in this year's Queensland Basketball League competition.
After wearing down second-placed South West Metro 75-62 on Saturday night, the committed Force women repelled a third-quarter fightback to outclass the North Gold Coast Seahawks 100-72.
In their final home game of the regular season, Force displayed the qualities that have propelled them into joint top spot with Townsville.
After trailing 25-23 at quarter-time, Force built a 47-34 halftime advantage.
That increased to 67-57 in the third term before Force stepped up a gear.
National league-bound Amanda "AJ'' Johnson led the final quarter onslaught with three consecutive three-pointers to stretch Ipswich's lead to 30 points.
In a fitting finish, rising talent Catherine MacGregor brought up Ipswich's 100th point with her team's final shot of the game.
However, head coach Brad George was most delighted with his side's all-round effort today, after such a taxing game the night before and with more big games ahead.
"This weekend, next weekend, they are tough games. They are all top eight teams,'' he said.
"We knew we were going to have our work cut out.''
That was highlighted in Saturday night's battle with the team previously above them.
Force trailed 32-30 at halftime in Brisbane before making their trademark run in the third quarter to set up their 12th win of the season.
"That was a real good game,'' George said, happy how his team tightened up its defensive end when needed most.
Today's success made it 13 wins from 15 games, again after firing up in the third and fourth quarters.
"We are slow starters but very happy, especially when you win both,'' the coach said.
"With Townsville losing today, we are on equal first with them now.''
That powerhouse position sets up Force for its mighty central Queensland challenge on Friday and Saturday nights.
"It's going to be a tough weekend but we just need to keep winning,'' George said, backing his team's finals bid having "multiple contributors''.
Georgia Williams was busy early in yesterday's game before Rachel Mate, Gintare Mazionyte and AJ fired up, alongside reliable captain Bree Farley and with Meg Essex keen to get involved.
"When they're always contributing, it's hard to stop,'' the coach said.
"We've got a good balanced side.''
The Ipswich Force men strengthened their QBL playoff hopes with a 115-80 victory over the North Gold Coast Seahawks this afternoon.
After trailing 31-21 at quarter-time, Force rolled into top gear to build on their 105-86 Saturday night success over the South West Metro Pirates.
Garrett Hall topscored with 33 points in that win.
After Ipswich was behind 50-45 at halftime, the Force and Pirates put on 28 points each in the third quarter before Ipswich's stunning finish.
Force scored 32 points, holding the Pirates to just eight in the final term to secure another terrific win.
In today's match, Force vice-captain Kyle Harvey led the way with 41 points.
Hall provided tremendous assistance with 19 points in another fine team performance at Llewellyn Stadium.
QBL men: Ipswich Force 115 (Kyle Harvey 41, Garrett Hall 19) def North Gold Coast Seahawks 80 at Llewellyn Stadium; Ipswich Force 105 (Garrett Hall 33, Josh Spiers 26, Kyle Harvey 21) def South West Metro Pirates 86 at Hibiscus Sports Complex.
QBL women: Ipswich Force 100 (Amanda Johnson 27, Gintare Mazionyte 20, Rachel Mate 20) def North Gold Coast Seahawks 72 at Llewellyn Stadium; Ipswich Force 75 (Amanda Johnson 29, Rachel Mate 16, Gintare Mazionyte 15) def South West Metro Pirates 62 at Hibiscus Sports Complex.
Next Ipswich Force matches: Friday night v Mackay in Mackay; Saturday night: v Rockhampton in Rockhampton.