Why these Ipswich teams are recharged for state league
SNAZZY new uniforms and a post-game meet the fans session underlined Ipswich Force's fresh approach to the new state league season.
Fittingly, it was the women's team co-captain, also feeling fresh and recharged, who launched Ipswich's latest Queensland Basketball League campaign on a high.
Former national league player Bree Farley was named most valuable player after top scoring with 25 points and superbly leading her new-look team.
Nailing a three-pointer with her first shot seconds into the game showed Farley meant business.
Four quarters later, Ipswich had outclassed Toowoomba 97-43. Farley finished with five three- pointers.
In the off-season, Farley took some time out and focused on her final year university commitments without extra Women's National Basketball League demands of past years.
"It was nice to have that break and do the off-season training,'' Farley said, starting her third QBL campaign for Force.
"I actually got to spend a month at home with my family in South Australia so I think that recharged my batteries in a different way as well.
"I'm just looking forward to playing each week too.''
With Farley and co-captain Marney George the only senior players back this season, it was important the leaders stamped their authority early.
Farley did, well supported by energetic Brisbane newcomer Rachel Mate (24 points) and Ipswich product Lauren O'Sullivan (16 points and nine rebounds), who returned after a couple of seasons away.
George also got involved quickly when introduced into the game at Ipswich stadium.
The win was extra satisfying with athletic recruits Markel Walker and Shenita Landry due to arrive the next fortnight.
"Especially without having our imports, it was just very nice to start well and not let up for the whole game,'' Farley, 26, said.
"Just to give that group of people experience playing together. We have been training hard together.''
Coach Brad George was happy with the extra depth and more scoring options he has with newcomers like Ashton Eaton (10 rebounds) and Aimee Durbidge getting busy in their debut games.
"Everyone had a good run,'' George said, pleased to see the team building confidence.
The Ipswich Force men had a tougher battle in the game that followed, overhauling Toowoomba 83-80.
American duo Kyle Harvey (25) and captain James Legan (22) led the way with a valuable scoring contribution from Jaryd Eustace (15).
James Kuon (nine rebounds) and Mitch Poulain (eight rebounds) also kept Ipswich in the game.
Ipswich led 65-57 at three-quarter time, having to survive a late rally from the visitors before getting their season off to a winning start.
Both Ipswich Force teams took to the court in their streamlined new uniforms branded with their names to build a stronger connection with their fans.
That continued after the game with players signing autographs and chatting to spectators, whose support is vital in a cut-throat state league competition.
Under a new top eight format this season, the Ipswich teams will have to improve their winning record from past seasons and most likely rely on better percentages to be in the playoffs with the northern hotshots.
Both Force teams have made a positive start, on and off the court, aided by Ipswich Basketball's new development, promotions and sponsorship officer James Legan.
"James has done a great job of getting us extra sponsors and it was good to have someone in that role specifically to do that,'' Farley said.
State of play
QBL men: Ipswich Force 83 (Kyle Harvey 25, James Legan 22, Jaryd Eustace 15) def Toowoomba 80.
QBL women: Ipswich Force 97 (Bree Farley 25, Rachel Mate 24, Lauren O'Sullivan 16) def Toowoomba 43.
Next matches: v Gold Coast away on Saturday.