Finals curse strikes again: Major issues for Ipswich team
BASKETBALL: As much as successful Ipswich coach Brad George dreads to think about it, the reality is it is happening again.
"It'' is losing vital players at the wrong time of the season.
Preparing for last year's Queensland Basketball League playoffs, the Ipswich Force women's stocks were severely depleted due to injury, school commitments and overseas obligations. Force toiled hard before bowing out of the championship.
After losing experienced import Kaili McLaren on Saturday night to what looks a season-ending knee injury, George was expecting another torrid time in this year's finals.
"It's one of those years. It's one thing after another,'' George said, knowing he has players like Grace Ellis and Catherine Macgregor also unavailable due to school and University college tours.
That lack of bench depth comes after the Force women have battled gamely without Rachel Mate (recovering from glandular fever), Amy Lewis (overseas for five weeks) and star shooter Amanda Johnson (struggling with back soreness). Mate and Lewis toiled hard returning on Saturday night.
However, the McLaren setback just before halftime was a turning point. She was on fire with 16 points from eight consecutive shots on the Sunshine Coast court.
Although still leading in the final quarter, Force ran out of energy, going down 82-77 to home team USC Rip.
"We should have won the game, we up by six with two minutes to go,'' George said.
"Fatigue got us in the end. We only had three players on the bench. We ran out of legs.''
The Force women slipped to seventh place after their sixth loss from 17 games. They face competition leaders Southern Districts Spartans in their final preliminary game at Llewellyn Stadium on Saturday night before plotting a playoff strategy minus some key players.
The Force men suffered their 12th loss of the season, losing 106-95 to USC in their second last game of the season.
QBL women: USC Rip 82 def Ipswich Force 77 (Amy Lewis 17, Georgia Ralph 16, Kaili McLaren 16).
QBL men: USC Rip 106 def Ipswich Force 95 (Jayden Ferguson 27, Jesse Ghee 23).