Kyle's relaxing work in the dark lights up Ipswich team
DOING extra training in the dark is proving a winning formula for recent Queensland Basketball League Player of the Week Kyle Harvey.
Now the American import hopes to continue lighting up the court as the Ipswich Force men battle to keep their final hopes alive.
Heading into his team's last home game before the playoffs, Harvey shared his pre-game routine that has helped secure him 364 points from 13 state league matches. That includes a season high 46 points in Ipswich's recent road trip victory over Gladstone.
"I do that every game,'' Harvey said about spending extra time shooting baskets before the team warm-up.
In Ipswich, that means practising on his own in a dark corner of Llewellyn Stadium where the lights are turned off.
"It helps warm me up a little bit and help calm me down and relax,'' Harvey said.
"I'm always nervous before the game.''
That approach paid off again for vice-captain Harvey as he provided the winning basket in last weekend's 80-79 point thriller over the Gold Coast Rollers.
With captain Jason Ralph also playing a vital role, Harvey secured the win with just two seconds on the clock at Llewellyn Stadium.
"We were down by one and I tried to get to the rim and luckily the ball went in,'' he said.
After seeing such committed finishes, Force head coach Chris Riches praised his leadership team for being so clinical.
"Jason Ralph is the brain that directs us in what we do,'' Riches said.
"Kyle is the heart that keeps us going. He sets that level for everyone else to aspire to.''
The Ipswich Force men face North Gold Coast Seahawks in Sunday's match at Llewellyn Stadium.
In his fifth season with Force, Harvey has produced some terrific numbers.
The 27-year-old American, who grew up in the small country town of Corning, has game scores of 36 (v Brisbane Capitals) and 34 (v the Spartans) to go with his 46 point haul against Gladstone.
His average points a game (28) is third in the league.
His total points (364) ranks him fourth in this year's QBL.
"There's always things you can improve on but I think I'm playing pretty decent this year,'' Harvey said.
Although the Force men led for most of last week's game before the nail-biting finale, Riches said the players were learning from tight finishes.
"When it's coming down to the last play of the game and stuff like that, there's always that pressure . . . for us we've been hardened by that,'' he said.
Last weekend's win over Gold Coast was Force's fifth from 13 games, lifting them into 10th place.
The top eight sides qualify for this year's playoffs.
"We're actually in a position where we have the most amount of games out of any team to play,'' Riches said.
"We could really change how things work out for us quite easily if we continue to win.''
Harvey said the young Force team with a lot of promise was being rewarded.
"We've just started clicking,'' the 196cm forward said.
"We haven't really changed anything. We've been working really hard all season.''
He said the team still held hopes of making the QBL finals, if they can produce more road trip successes like Gladstone.
"Everyone is really stepping up and playing well,'' he said.
Harvey said this year had been his most enjoyable at the Force, especially working with the young players.
"Everyone gets along really well,'' he said.
He's also coaching the Ipswich Grammar School basketball team starting its latest GPS campaign on Saturday.
The Ipswich Force women head into Sunday's state league match in tip-top shape having just two losses this season.
The Force women are comfortably in third spot behind Townsville and South West Metro, with five games to play.
Opponents North Gold Coast Seahawks are in eighth spot with eight wins and seven losses this season.
QBL: Sunday - Ipswich Force v North Gold Coast Seahawks at Llewellyn Stadium. Women's match at noon before the men's game at 2pm.