TOUGH TEST: Ipswich Force head coach Brad George tries to keep his team focused during today's 81-55 state league loss to South West Metro at Llewellyn Stadium.
TOUGH TEST: Ipswich Force head coach Brad George tries to keep his team focused during today's 81-55 state league loss to South West Metro at Llewellyn Stadium. Cordell Richardson

Doubleheader drains Ipswich's firepower

BASKETBALL: After watching his team endure the toughest weekend of the season, Ipswich Force coach Brad George had mixed feelings.

He was delighted to have conquered another top four side but keen to move forward after today's latest state league performance.

"We were just flat. Last night took so much out of us,'' George said following Force's 81-55 loss to South West Metro at Llewellyn Stadium.

The previous night, the Force women produced one of their best games of the QBL season by holding out Sunshine Coast Phoenix 79-74 at the same Ipswich venue.

Force were in second place heading into the weekend round. Phoenix were third and South West Metro fourth.

"Definitely that's the hardest doubleheader you'll get all year,'' George said.

But while he expected today's match to be taxing, he was unhappy with so many turnovers, which gave the Pirates every opportunity to build a 26-19 first quarter advantage before controlling the match.

"We didn't turn up,'' he said, aware his side needed to be ready to go against quality opponents like the Pirates.

Ipswich's second loss of the season followed Saturday afternoon's determined victory.

Force led 29-21 after the first quarter, building a 39-33 halftime lead before Phoenix fought hard to keep the game alive trailing 60-56 going into the final quarter.

"That was a big win. Last night was exceptional,'' George said.

"They did a really good job.

"Phoenix are very physical so it was very difficult for our group.''

He said that showed in today's match where regular top scorers Amanda Johnson and Georgia Williams were restricted to 12 and eight points respectively.

Johnson has been one of the state league's leading scorers, producing match-winning efforts at key times. She matched some of the best shooters in Australia scoring 22 points on Saturday.

But today, AJ was unable to recapture her trademark shooting spark, with all the Force shooters struggling to hit regular baskets.

Williams toiled hard as she always does but couldn't find her groove.

Rachel Mate and European import Gintare "Gigi'' Maziontye were kept quiet by the Pirates powerful defensive effort.


Ipswich's Gintare Maziontye in the QBL Womens - Ipswich Force v South West Metro match.
Ipswich Force forward Gintare Maziontye works hard to match the defensive might of South West Metro in today's state league match. Cordell Richardson

George said Force's uncharacteristic lapses in concentration proved fatal.

"They got 31 points off turnovers,'' he said, highlighting a telling stat.

However, with a trip to Gladstone this weekend, he's pleased with Force's overall 9-2 season record. That keeps the Ipswich side entrenched in the top four.

The Ipswich Force men also found it tough to back up this afternoon after securing their third win of the season.

The Force men overpowered Sunshine Coast Phoenix 120-83 on Saturday night before a 88-74 loss to South West Metro.

Force led 27-21 against Phoenix after the first quarter and set up a comfortable 61-44 halftime advantage before completing their well-deserved win.

Today, they trailed 29-14 after the first break and never threatened after being behind 41-29 at halftime.

State of play

QBL men: South West Metro 88 def Ipswich Force 74 (Kyle Harvey 34, Jason Ralph 12); Ipswich Force 120 (Kyle Harvey 32, Garrett Hall 25) def Sunshine Coast Phoenix 83 at Llewellyn Stadium.

QBL women: South West Metro 81 def Ipswich Force 55 (Georgia Williams 12, Catherine MacGregor 9); Ipswich Force 79 (Amanda Johnson 22, Georgia Williams 15) def Sunshine Coast Phoenix 74 at Llewellyn Stadium.

Next matches: Saturday night - Ipswich Force v Gladstone at Kev Broome Stadium.