Ipswich Force captain Amy Lewis is already making an impression in this year’s NBL1 North competition. Picture: Megan Low
Ipswich Force captain Amy Lewis is already making an impression in this year’s NBL1 North competition. Picture: Megan Low

Amy’s tribute to Ipswich teammate during tough time

AS fine captains do, Amy Lewis leads from the front offering plenty of encouragement when times are tough.

In her third season with Ipswich Force, Lewis praised rising teenage talent Catherine MacGregor for her commitment having recently lost her father Alexander, affectionately known as Ross.

"To give her credit, she hasn't missed a training until the day of the funeral,'' Lewis said.

"She's struggling a little bit but still managing to get the job done on the court as well.

"It's just a really tough time for her.''

Catherine's brother Lachlan plays for the Force men's team.

Karalee-based Ross was 65 when he passed, having been a proud supporter of the Ipswich duo.

Ipswich Force player Catherine MacGregor works hard in her team's first win of the NBL1 North competition, against Cairns at JBS Stadium. Picture: Megan Low
Ipswich Force player Catherine MacGregor works hard in her team's first win of the NBL1 North competition, against Cairns at JBS Stadium. Picture: Megan Low

Even though the latest NBL1 North season is only weeks old, Catherine is already making her mark, especially with her outside shooting. She nailed five three-pointers in the previous game against Townsville.

Lewis and her Force teammates are preparing for their latest NBL1 match against South West Metro Pirates at Hibiscus Stadium on Saturday night.

With Force having one win from their first four encounters, Lewis expects to play a more recognisable opponent this weekend in the higher level competition.

She's coming up against former Force teammates Amanda "AJ'' Johnson, former captain Bree Farley and Courtney Taylor, as well as her previous head coach Brad George.

"We are definitely still building,'' the current Ipswich Force captain said.

"But it's also a very familiar game this weekend with a lot of ex-Ipswich Force coaches and players in the other team.

"It should be a really fun game actually because they are so familiar.''

Former Ipswich Force American import Amanda
Former Ipswich Force American import Amanda "AJ" Johnson on her way to scoring 42 points against Logan in the previous QBL competition.

Lewis expects Johnson to be a major threat, after she scored 36 points against Brisbane last weekend. "AJ'' guided Ipswich to a number of victories during previous Queensland Basketball League encounters.

"She's just that ultimate competitor and a scoring machine,'' Lewis said.

"We'll be looking to shut her down as best as possible.''

With Force chasing a second win of the season, Lewis has been playing a major role as usual.

She scored a double-double in last weekend's 98-69 loss to Townsville - 18 points and 12 rebounds.

The former national league player is excited to be linking with WNBA recruit Abby Bishop later in the season.

"Our record probably isn't where we would like it to be,'' Lewis said.

"But we are still waiting on Abby Bishop to come in and that will make a huge difference to our results.

"We're just plugging away and trying to get better with what we can control at this point in time.''

Ipswich Force captain Amy Lewis
Ipswich Force captain Amy Lewis

Lewis played national league for Townsville (2008-10), Adelaide (2010-14) and the South East Queensland Stars (2015) before venturing to Ipswich after a state league stint with the Capitals.

She previously linked with Bishop at Adelaide Lightning in the 2011/12 season and during a short-term contract stint in the French Division 1 league in 2017.

Bishop is joining the Force team after having a break following her recent European competition commitments.

She is one of the Force newcomers along with players like Ali Burke (from NSW), Alana Fraser (Logan) and Kelsey McDermott (Mackay).

With regular Force players like Georgia Ralph and Iris Cubit linking with the additions, Lewis said it was an adjustment from last year's Queensland State League (QSL).

"It is a step up,'' Lewis said.

Former WNBL player Abby Bishop. Picture: Alix Sweeney
Former WNBL player Abby Bishop. Picture: Alix Sweeney

Lewis was influential in Ipswich making last year's QSL semi-finals.

However, the cool, calm and collected Bulimba State School teacher knows how different the inaugural NBL1 competition is.

"You can't really compare the QSL to the NBL1 North. It's a whole different ball game,'' Lewis said.

"It's just taking a bit of time to develop the system and our personnel.''

Lewis was pleased with the direction new head coach Brady Walmsley was taking the team.

"I really love working with him (Walmsley). I think he's a fabulous coach,'' the Force captain said.

"I'm sure when Abby gets in and we've got one more piece to our starting five and our rotation, we'll be rolling along fairly soon I think.

"We have played some pretty tough teams so far this season as well.''

The Ipswich Force men are chasing their first win of the NBL1 North competition against South West Metro in Saturday night's 8pm match at the same venue.

Force men tackling new challenge