Concussion, illness, injury - Force teams conquer adversity
BASKETBALL: As if Ipswich Force didn't have enough to deal with having consistent performer Amy Lewis away, star shooter Amanda Johnson struggling and regular contributor Rachel Mate withdrawing due to illness.
Ipswich then lost team enforcer Lauren O'Sullivan, possibly for the rest of the season, after she suffered concussion.
O'Sullivan left the court after copping an elbow to the head in the second quarter. She made a short return for her team before heading home and later to hospital suffering headaches and blurred vision.
O'Sullivan is expected to be rested for several weeks after the untimely setback.
Despite all the state league drama, the Force women responded tenaciously, securing a 79-62 win over Gold Coast Seahawks at Runaway Bay on Saturday night.
"They definitely showed a lot of character,'' head coach Brad George said, pleased how his team handled the late challenges.
"It was a pretty good effort last night. They had to work really hard.''
Some of the Force basketballers also had to play out of position but knuckled down to the task.
Georgia Ralph put in a mighty effort with 26 points, including six three-pointers. That was her biggest individual haul in a long time.
Down on troops, George called on another Ipswich product Courtney Taylor for back-up after just two sessions through the week.
The head coach was glad Taylor offered to help as she contributed a valuable 19 minutes with all the drama going on around her.
Concerned about O'Sullivan's well-being, George also praised import Kaili McLaren for a strong performance.
She stepped up, converting seven from eight shots, when the team needed her most.
Force's ninth win keeps Ipswich in third place on the Queensland Basketball League ladder.
"They had to overcome a lot of adversity to do what they did,'' George said.
"There was a lot of different roles, expectations, with things that happened.''
The Ipswich Force men also had to deal with their own challenges before lifting their win tally to four on Saturday night.
The Force men rallied with a superb 32-15 third quarter before sealing a 97-91 win.
Like the women, they were down on regulars with captain Jason Ralph managing a back problem, Marty Leahy on representative duty and James Kuon away.
"Two of those guys are in our starting five and one of the other guys is in our top eight so we went into the game very very undermanned,'' Force head coach Chris Riches said.
Vice-captain Kyle Harvey was also unwell but produced a terrific defensive effort as Jesse Ghee (24 points), Mitch Poulain (19), Josh Spiers (16) and Jayden Ferguson (12) made huge contributions.
Riches was delighted how his team responded to "a whole bunch of changes that are happening in the team''.
"With Jayden coming back from the injury, we probably saw one of his best games so far,'' Riches said.
"Then Jesse really stepped up last night and showed a different level that he can play at.''
Ipswich product Poulain, 21, continues to impress.
"Mitch is one of those really great stories for us as a home town,'' Riches said.
"He's played all the way through the juniors. His family has been hugely involved with our association.
"I can't speak enough about Mitch. He really embodies a lot of the stuff that we talk about when we start giving opportunities to young guys.''
QBL men: Ipswich Force 97 (Jesse Ghee 24, Mitch Poulain 19) def Gold Coast Seahawks 91.
QBL women: Ipswich Force 79 (Georgia Ralph 26, Amanda Johnson 23) def Gold Coast Seahawks 62.