Ipswich Force vice-captain Kyle Harvey.
Ipswich Force vice-captain Kyle Harvey. Rob Williams

Kyle not only exceptional, he's popular

BASKETBALL: As the top state league teams battle for grand final honours this weekend, one Ipswich player remains up with the best.

Force vice-captain Kyle Harvey was voted most valuable male player in the annual Queensland Basketball League People's Choice competition.

American-based Harvey has been one of Ipswich's most loyal basketballers in recent seasons, stepping up with extra responsibility this season.

"I can't speak highly enough of Kyle,'' Force head coach Chris Riches said.

"He's had an opportunity this year to really be that primary guy offensively for us.

"Some players shrug off that pressure. He just seems to absolutely love it.''

Harvey averaged 27.94 points a game, the third highest in the QBL. His 503 points for the season was the second best in the league.

First-time Force head coach Riches worked closely with Harvey in Ipswich's under-21 team. Riches instantly recognised how valuable he would be in the senior program.

Being experienced and aged 27, Harvey provided a steadying leadership role, supporting captain Jason Ralph and encouraging the younger players in this year's state league.

But it wasn't only Harvey's team-minded approach and willingness to support Ipswich's new culture that impressed Riches.

Harvey regularly top scored for Force, thriving with confidence on being himself and fulfilling his well-defined role.

"He makes my job a lot easier as a coach,'' Riches said.

"He just shoulders so much responsibility on a daily basis.''

Harvey heads home to the US on September 20.

Logan's Mikkhaela Donnelly was voted the top female in the QBL People's Choice competition.

Harvey's accolade caps his fifth season with Force.

Riches was confident Harvey would return next season, along with most of this year's Force players.

"All the guys are interested in coming back,'' Riches said after guiding a new-look team to one win short of making this year's playoffs.

He encouraged the players to "reboot and recharge'' after putting so much into the state league season for Ipswich.

In this weekend's QBL grand finals, Townsville are chasing victories in both best-of-three series.

The Townsville Flames women host the Southern Districts Spartans, who beat Ipswich Force 89-84 in last week-end's semi-final.

The Townsville Heat men are looking to tame the Cairns Marlins threat in their grand final showdown.



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