Gun Ipswich side showcases winning state qualities
WHAT a sensational effort from Ipswich's basketballers of the future.
With speed, mobility and above all unselfish play, the Ipswich Force under-16 boys completed their unbeaten Queensland titles campaign with an impressive 88-59 grand final display.
Whether they gain promotion to next year's Division 1 competition will depend on future gradings.
However, with four of his championship-winning team eligible for next year's titles, coach David Chettle was confident Ipswich would be elevated.
He was justifiably delighted after working with a fine group of young players.
"To win a grand final by 30 is fantastic - that's unheard of,'' Chettle said reflecting on the achievement against Gladstone, who had only one loss heading into the decider.
"And the quality of the opposition wasn't poor. We were just on.''
Even in the dying stages with the final secured at Cornubia Park Sports Centre, the Ipswich players were still jumping to make blocks and looking to score more points.
After a terrific preparation for the tournament, Chettle praised his players for the way they worked together.
"What I'm really pleased about is the teamwork of the boys,'' he said.
"They didn't care about who scored. They just wanted the team to score and that's the important factor.
"That's been the key to our success.''
Ipswich captain Walter Brockhurst was among the high scorers, along with vice-captain Paul Andrew Riveral and Carl Redgate.
Magot Magot also played a major role before missing Ipswich's 89-70 semi-final win over Phoenix and this afternoon's final. He injured his ankle yesterday.
"Our offence has been good,'' Chettle said. "All season we know that we are a good scoring team. So what we've worked on at training is our defence.''
The Ipswich boys led Gladstone 40-24 at halftime.
"If you said to me at the start of the game you could keep the opposition to 24 points (in the first half), you'd take it,'' he said.
"I'm a big believer that defence wins finals.''
One of the shining stars was Ipswich's smallest player on court Justin Ventic who set the tempo early.
"He played his best game,'' Chettle said.
"I've been waiting all tournament to put him on as a starter because he is so composed and fast for his age and he controlled the game. And the other boys supported him and he just smashed it from the start, which is really important in a grand final.
"He can feed the big guys. He's got a good passing game so the big guys just love it when he passes the ball and that's what it is all about in basketball.''
Ventic, Samuel Geu, Liam Ketchell and Ethan Battensby are eligible for next year's Ipswich under-16 team.
"We had four bottom aged kids, which is a really big effort,'' the proud coach said. "They are playing against kids a year older. That's a big difference.
"They have just come out of under 14s where they play with a smaller size ball, less game time, to play with the big boys.''
The winning Ipswich boys squad was: Walter Brockhurst (captain), Paul Andrew Riveral (vice-captain), Cameron Williams, Carl Redgate, Ethan Battensby, Junior Simon Law, Justin Ventic, Liam Ketchell, Luke Laborte, Magot Magot, Samuel Geu and Travis Brown.
In this morning's bronze medal playoff at Carina, the gritty Ipswich Force girls dug deep to beat Bundaberg Bears 88-77.
The depleted Force under-16s led 56-28 at halftime before Bundaberg fought back strongly.
With only seven players available, Force watched their advantage reduced to 72-64 in the fourth quarter before rallying a final time to finish the Queensland championship on a high.
The Force girls had four wins and two losses over the four days of tough Division 2 competition.