The Ipswich Force under-14 girls basketball team, with coach Charlene Notoa, contesting the Division 1 state titles in Mackay.
The Ipswich Force under-14 girls basketball team, with coach Charlene Notoa, contesting the Division 1 state titles in Mackay.

Force team dedicates state title success to popular coach

THE close-knit Ipswich Force under-14 girls basketball team is dedicating its latest state tournament to the Cabili family after an emotion-charged arrival in Mackay.

Ipswich junior assistant coach Lito Cabili passed away at the end of the Queensland under-12 championships in Townsville just before the under-14 team started their championships.

After having to deal with the heartbreaking news, head coach Charlene Notoa, her assistants and the young players rose to the challenge on the opening day of the state under-14 titles today.

After beating Logan 60-32 in the morning match in Mackay, the Force girls quelled a spirited South West Metro challenge in the first half to win 65-37.

All the players wore black armbands today as they paid tribute to a popular coach.

"It's just a tragedy,'' Notoa said of losing a friend and basketball colleague.

"He coached some of our girls and I coached his girls.

"He's a big part of our basketball community.

"We are dedicating our tournament to the Cabili family.''

UNBEATEN CHAMPIONS: Force girls fit for state titles challenge

The Ipswich Force under-14 girls started their Queensland Division 1 championship campaign as one of the favourites.

They have extra motivation to continue their impressive start in Saturday's games being livestreamed on the QT website.

The Force girls play Brisbane Capitals Gold at 11am before a showdown with the home team Mackay at 5pm.

Notoa said her players handled the sad news in the way they always tackle challenges.

"Last night was a little bit emotional, just really, really sad,'' the head coach said, proud of how they responded in Mackay today.

"They are all strong girls . . . no matter what they are facing they will just grind it out.

"What I do know about my girls is they don't want to lose.''

They also never take it easy and finish strong.

That was highlighted by Sharni Reisinger landing the final basket of the match as the final hooter sounded against South West Metro.

In the morning game, Ipswich's smallest player of the court Isabella Mirkovic topscored with 22 points.

The girls were enjoying a pool session and stretch this afternoon before preparing for another big day on Saturday.

Watch the Force girls on the QT livestreaming service (qt.com.au) on Saturday. Here is the day two schedule:

8am: Girls Division 1 - SD Spartans v Townsville Flames

9.30am: Girls Division 2 - SD Titans vs Mackay Stars

11am: Girls Division 1 - Brisbane Capitals Gold v Ipswich Force

12.30pm: Girls Division 1 - Mackay Meteorettes v SWM Pirates Purple

2pm: Girls Division 2 - TBA v TBA

3.30pm: Girls Division 1 - Logan Thunder v Brisbane Capitals Gold

5pm: Girls Division 1 - Ipswich Force v Mackay Meteorettes