Ipswich team’s nerves of steel secure QSL semi-final spot
IT was nerve-racking and gripping, down to the wire and pressure basketball.
But for the Ipswich Force women, it was also satisfying to survive a last quarter scare to book a spot in this year's Queensland State League (QSL) semi-finals.
As Force head coach Terry Lindeberg accurately offered after Ipswich's 79-76 quarter-final victory: "We held our nerve and it was really good''.
The Force women will play Logan in Friday night's semi-final after holding out the Brisbane Capitals this afternoon.
The third-placed Capitals had only lost three of their previous 11 matches.
But it was the growing Force of Ipswich, led by inspirational captain Amy Lewis, that shattered the Capitals title hopes.
Lewis topscored with 32 points, including five three-pointers, in an inspired 40 minute performance.
"She was outstanding,'' Lindeberg said, knowing what a quality player she is when the pressure is on.
Lewis steadied the side as the Capitals reduced a 10-point deficit to one point before taking a 76-75 advantage in the final minute.
It took a Lewis three-pointer and free throw from Catherine Macgregor to swing the match back Ipswich's way.
Co-captain Georgia Ralph also stepped up in the crucial moments, finishing with 16 points. Her sensational effort included three, three-pointers and seven defensive rebounds.
Macgregor snared eight defensive rebounds, showing how much she has improved in this year's QSL.
"Catherine, playing out of position, she did a great job,'' the coach said.
Ipswich had controlled the match, leading by more than 12 points until the nailbiting final term.
Lindeberg said the key to winning was getting back to what works best for the team after letting the Capitals make a late charge.
"We were running on tired legs for most of the second half really,'' he said.
He told his players "to go back to our normal practice''.
"They (Capitals) opened it up for us and we fell in the trap and kept turning it over and turning it over.''
Former Ipswich player Meg Essex was threatening to overturn Force's advantage.
"We just had to go back to what works for ourselves,'' he said.
Expecting some sore bodies from his players, Lindeberg said the team could enjoy the latest win before refocusing on a duel with unbeaten competition leaders Logan on Friday night at Logan.
The Ipswich Force men have also qualified for the semi-finals. They play at JBS Arena on Friday night, highlighting how far Ipswich's young players have come this season, guided by some experienced leaders.
STATE OF PLAY
QSL Division 1 women's quarter-final: Ipswich Force 79 (Amy Lewis 32, Georgia Ralph 16, Catherine Macgregor 13) def Brisbane Capitals 76.