Former Mackay basketballer Kelsey McDermott has been signed to bolster the Ipswich Force team in this year’s NBL1 North competition. Picture: Cordell Richardson
Former Mackay basketballer Kelsey McDermott has been signed to bolster the Ipswich Force team in this year’s NBL1 North competition. Picture: Cordell Richardson

Faster play: Ipswich coach secures players suited to role

THE first pieces in a proverbial jigsaw puzzle promoting faster basketball are falling into place for the Ipswich Force.

As new Force women's head coach Brady Walmsley continues his active recruiting, he has already secured four influential players for this year's inaugural NBL1 North competition.

Eager to change the way Force teams played in past state league seasons, Walmsley is building a squad tailored to his new style.

The latest addition is Force newcomer Kelsey McDermott, a Women's National Basketball League (WNBL) development player for Townsville Fire, who has also been crafting her talents at college and for Mackay in the state league.

Walmsley previously worked with McDermott when he was a junior state team coach.

"Kelsey played on a lot of those Queensland teams so that's the original connection,'' Walmsley said.

"We are going to play a really different sort of style to the one the way they played previously and that's going to be really, really fast paced and up-tempo.

"Kelsey is the type of athlete that will really be able to contribute to that quite well.

"She's a super athlete, she gets up and down the floor and she's good on offence and really capable defensively. So we just think she can do exactly what we want and give us a bit of versatility.''

Ipswich Force women's coach Brady Walmsley. Picture: David Lems
Ipswich Force women's coach Brady Walmsley. Picture: David Lems

McDermott joins three Ipswich regulars who have impressed in recent seasons.

Guards Georgia Ralph and Amy Lewis will play important leadership roles, having guided Ipswich to last year's Queensland State League (QSL) semi-final.

"Georgia is like the representation that we want from the top of the club to the bottom of it,'' the coach said.

"She represents the club well. She's pleasant.

"She participates in stuff beyond just her NBL1 commitment and on top of that, she's a pretty good player.''

Ipswich Force's Georgia Ralph always gives 100 per cent on the court. Picture: Jaan Houley
Ipswich Force's Georgia Ralph always gives 100 per cent on the court. Picture: Jaan Houley

The vastly experienced Lewis has also slotted seamlessly into the Force line-up in recent years.

"I've been lucky enough to coach MVPs (most valuable players) of the league in the women's QBL before and I reckon Amy is every bit that good,'' Walmsley said.

"We are going to really play a lot through our guards this year and I think that's going to put them in a really good position to show off what they have to offer.''

Ipswich Force co-captain Amy Lewis. Picture: Megan Low
Ipswich Force co-captain Amy Lewis. Picture: Megan Low

Rising talent Catherine Macgregor has also been secured, having stepped up in the 2020 QSL where she displayed her immense promise.

"I think Cath is going to have WNBL ambitions,'' Walmsley said.

"It's going to be really good this year.

"She's going to be put in a position to do all the things she does really well - and what she showed in the QSL - but we're also going to be demanding that she improves in a couple of areas and really propel her towards being a WNBL player in the future.

"I'm excited about that.''

Ipswich Force basketballer Catherine Macgregor. Picture: Megan Low
Ipswich Force basketballer Catherine Macgregor. Picture: Megan Low

Walmsley is also surveying a pool of players from Ipswich, Toowoomba and the Gold Coast to join the 2021 Force combination.

The squad has been training since late last year, with trials last week.

The hotly anticipated NBL1 North competition is scheduled to tip off in May.