Ipswich women’s team to get better with Heal-ly good talent
HAVING three players with the famous Heal basketball name in an Ipswich side is a rare treat.
That's especially the case when two of those Heal players are daughters of former Olympian Shane Heal.
Ashleigh, 21, and 14-year-old sister Shyla are among the new Force recruits who made their debut in Ipswich's Queensland Basketball League season opener on Saturday night.
"This is our second QBL season. Last season we played with South West Metros together,'' Ashleigh said.
"We've been playing from a young age. We love it.''
The third Heal in this year's Ipswich side is Kate. She's unrelated to Ashleigh and Shyla.
Even though Ipswich gave up a handy three-quarter lead to lose 68-62 to Gold Coast in their first game, the signs are looking promising.
The three Heal players displayed their speed, youthful enthusiasm and skills before Kate was fouled out and the team faded late in the game.
It was the first time Ashleigh and Shyla played in the same team with Kate.
"It's pretty cool to have three Heal girls in the team,'' Ashleigh said.
On Saturday night, senior players like SEQ Stars recruit Bree Farley and dependable Force regular Morgan Pink toiled hard to guide the younger players against the Gold Coast.
But after leading 36-27 at halftime and 55-39 going into the final quarter, Ipswich lacked another experienced campaigner to help preserve the lead.
Former Force and national league player Nadeen Payne used her experience to lift Gold Coast when it mattered against the youthful Force line-up. Her 32 points were decisive.
"It's extremely disappointing,'' Ashleigh said of the result.
"Hopefully with our two new imports as well, next time we can beat them.''
Imports Shenneika Smith and Soana Lucet are expected to arrive in Ipswich this week, bolstering Force's QBL stocks.
Despite the first-up loss, Ashleigh was excited about the future.
"It's going to change so much when our two imports come,'' she said.
"Our oldest player is Bree Farley and she's 25. And our youngest player (Shyla) is 14.
"We've got so much to improve on.''
Ashleigh encouraged her talented teenage sibling.
"I'm really excited for her and her future,'' Ashleigh said of Shyla, who played guard on Saturday night.
"She's got so much going for her.''
Ashleigh trained with the SEQ Stars team that made the preliminary final in the recently completed Women's National Basketball League season.
The Brisbane-based hospitality industry worker said having a dad like well-known sportsman Shane helped mould the sisters' passion for the game.
"Dad supports us no matter what we do. It doesn't have to be basketball,'' Ashleigh said.
"He's just so committed and loves the sport so much.
"We're so lucky to have him.''