Ipswich Force centre Meg Essex lines up the basket in Friday night's 88-63 state league win over Mackay.
Ipswich Force centre Meg Essex lines up the basket in Friday night's 88-63 state league win over Mackay. Daniel McKenzie

Super Force: Ipswich set for best state league finish

BASKETBALL: After a high intensity weekend displaying immense commitment and overcoming self doubt, Ipswich is on the verge of having two teams in this year's state league playoffs.

The Ipswich Force women are one win away from securing second spot in their best Queensland Basketball League preliminary season in history.

The late-charging Force men are looking to lock up a top eight spot for the finals after a terrific fightback.

On another remarkable road trip, the Force women beat Mackay 88-63 on Friday night before battling hard to hold out home team Rockhampton 79-73 on Saturday night.

That kept Ipswich on the heels of competition leaders Townsville preparing for their final preliminary game against the Gold Coast on Friday night.

Head coach Brad George was proud of how his team "got the job done'', lifting Ipswich's season record to 15 wins and just two losses - the team's best since joining the QBL.s

The Force men received a timely Friday night lesson in losing 96-68 to competition leaders Mackay.

However, head coach Chris Riches was delighted how his ever-improving young team responded in Saturday night's 106-84 victory over Rockhampton.

"It really came together for us,'' Riches said.

"The first half was pretty tight.

"We are a very physically fit team so the final half is really where we can kind of make or break. It was just a situation where we were able to push through and do really well.''

With the victory, Force jumped over Rockhampton into eighth place.

The Ipswich men can consolidate that last spot for the finals by beating Gold Coast at the coast on Friday night.

 

Ipswich Force's top scorer Kyle Harvey.
Ipswich Force's top scorer Kyle Harvey. Rob Williams

Riches said being able to control their destiny was a fitting reward for his team's effort and sacrifices building this season.

"It was really good actually having the loss against Mackay because it helped us refocus for last night's game,'' he said.

In a fine team performance against Rockhampton, Force vice-captain Kyle Harvey topscored again with 37 points, well supported by import Garrett Hall (23) and captain Jason Ralph (21).

Despite being offensively and defensively outsmarted by competition "yardstick'' Mackay, the experienced trio recovered quickly.

That commitment paid off in the final quarter when Force poured on 34 points to Rockhampton's 23.

Riches was pleased how his team put those earlier concerns behind them, to "move on and show that they can compete''.

"When you get convincingly beaten like we were against Mackay, you always have a little bit of that self doubt . . . and especially with the younger group not having those veteran leaders,'' he said.

"This is how we are developing that character, building that resolve in our program.''

With one regular season match left, Force have eight wins and nine losses to be in eighth place behind Townsville (14-3), Mackay (14-3), Logan (12-4), USC Rip (12-5), Brisbane Capitals (10-7), South West (8-7) and Cairns (9-8). Ninth placed Rockhampton (8-9) are still in finals contention.

QBL men: Ipswich Force 106 (Kyle Harvey 37, Garrett Hall 23, Jason Ralph 21) def Rockhampton Rockets 84 in Rockhampton; Mackay Meteors 96 def Ipswich Force 68 (James Kuon 16, Josh Spiers 15) in Mackay.

QBL women: Ipswich Force 79 (Amanda Johnson 34, Georgia Williams 13) def Rockhampton Cyclones 73 in Rockhampton; Ipswich Force 88 (Amanda Johnson 24, Bree Farley 17) def Mackay Meteorettes 63 in Mackay.

Next games: Friday night v Gold Coast at Gold Coast.



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