AFTER being overlooked for the Australian under-17 squad earlier this year, Ipswich basketballer Jason Ralph decided to send a message to national selectors by dominating at the national under-18 championships.
But in sport, things don't always go to plan.
Ralph returned to Ipswich from the Perth-hosted championships after what he described as "probably one of the best and worse weeks" of his life.
In only the second game of the week-long tournament, the 17-year-old tore ligaments in his right ankle, essentially destroying his dreams of domination.
"I was on a fast break and I went to go around a player and I stood on his foot and went over," Ralph said.
"I was shattered.
"The pain was worse because I knew that was probably it for my championships.
"I broke down and had to go out the back for treatment because I just thought my tournament was over."
As it turned out, the ankle injury wasn't as severe as first thought. But it ruled the point guard out of the next four games.
Ralph managed to make it back for his team's crucial semi-final playoff with Victoria Metro and was stoked with his performance.
"I came back and killed it in the Vic Metro game," he said.
"I love the big games and it was definitely my best game of the nationals.
"I felt I controlled the game well.
"I think the basketball gods were good to me. Because I fought back to get on the court, it's like they said 'here you go, have a good game'."
His Queensland team lost to the talented Victorians and eventually finished fourth in the tournament.
Back in Ipswich, Ralph is preparing to test his ankle this week ahead of his next challenge - the Queensland Under 18 Championships which begin on Friday.
Ralph is keen to help his Ipswich Force team continue the recent success of other junior representative teams before turning his attention to the senior squad and a season under Shane Heal.
"I feel like I have something to give this week because I hardly did anything at nationals," he said.
"As for QBL, I can't wait for the season to start.
"It's been a rough ride so far because I haven't been able to train much but I can't wait to be coached by Shane.
"I've always respected him and I want to play like him."
Ralph has also been named the QT-City of Ipswich junior monthly sportstar for March.
He will continue to develop his game ahead of a tough decision at the end of this season.
Ralph has attracted interest from a number of US colleges but is yet to decide what is best for his basketball development next year.
"I'm keeping my options open at this stage," he said.
"I'm just looking forward to the Classics, QBL and GPS comps this year then I'll worry about next year."