Australian Opals player Marianna Tolo (right) took charge in the final quarter of today's Queensland Basketball League match in Ipswich.
Australian Opals player Marianna Tolo (right) took charge in the final quarter of today's Queensland Basketball League match in Ipswich. Rob Williams

Ipswich women in rare state league crash

THE highly-regarded Ipswich Force women's team face a week of soul-searching after one of the most amazing last-quarter lapses in their Queensland Basketball League history.

Although far from their best, the Force women fought tenaciously at the end of the first three quarters to retain a slender lead over today's opponents Mackay.

That included a sizzling long-range shot from second year American import Amanda "AJ'' Johnson that dropped on the halftime buzzer. AJ's three-pointer gave Ipswich a 38-36 lead they increased to 57-52 heading into the final quarter.

But in a remarkable final 10 minutes, the Force women only scored two points as Mackay completed their third game of the weekend with a 73-59 victory at Ipswich stadium.

Force head coach Brad George was clearly upset, struggling to recall such a poor finish in the eight previous seasons he's coached at state league level.

"We were rubbish,'' the normally reserved Ipswich coach said.

"We didn't play anywhere near our capabilities.''

George rejected any suggestion it was Mackay's extra defensive effort that turned a see-sawing match into a one-sided contest.

"It was nothing to do with their defensive effort. We just didn't execute,'' he said lamenting his team's turnovers, defensive deficiencies and poor shooting.

"It was just like they turned up for a training run and they just didn't show up.''

Although Mackay's Australian Opals recruit Marianna Tolo played a major role late amassing 20 points, George said his team had no excuses.

"She was good in the last quarter . . . but we just stood there,'' he said.


Ipswich Force V Mackay women played at Ipswich Basketball Stadium on Sunday. Amy Lewis.
Ipswich Force newcomer Amy Lewis stretches for the basket in today's QBL season opening loss to Mackay. Rob Williams

The Force women only lost two of their first 18 regular season games last year.

However, George said his team had to quickly rediscover its mental tenacity if he wanted to go anywhere near replicating that this year.

"We should have won that game easy,'' he said. "We should have been up by 20.''

Mackay had beaten Gold Coast 65-43 on Friday night before losing to Logan 82-62 on Saturday.

"We knew they were going to come out hard but mentally it was a real struggle. We just had nothing,'' he said.

"We were in front and we were playing badly . . . but we just didn't run hard, we didn't play defence hard.''

Even though Force newcomers Amy Lewis, Kaili McLaren and Mikaela King had to settle in, George denied his team was underdone.

"In training and pre-season we've been outstanding,'' he said.

"Mentally they weren't on. They just made so many defensive errors and offensive errors and it was uncharacteristic for us . . . really disappointing.

"They have to have a look at themselves but they know they are much better than that.''


Ipswich Force V Mackay women played at Ipswich Basketball Stadium on Sunday. Georgia Williams.
Ipswich Force player Georgia Williams kept her team in today's game with a series of three-pointers. Rob Williams

George said Georgia Williams was one of the shining lights.

Williams peeled off a series of three-pointers to put Ipswich up 19-18, to level at 22-22 and draw the teams together again at 24-24 and 29-29 in the second quarter.

Ipswich battled hard in the third quarter with returning Force player Lauren O'Sullivan having an impact defensively before the final quarter turnaround.

In this afternoon's QBL men's season-opener for Ipswich, the Force team lost 107-95 to Mackay.

Force trailed 27-21 before heading into the main break at 54-all and hanging tough to remain deadlocked 75-75 heading into the final change.

Vice-captain Kyle Harvey led the way with 34 points, well supported by Force newcomer Jayden Ferguson with 21.

The Ipswich teams' next QBL matches are against Sunshine Coast Phoenix at Maroochydore on Saturday night.

State of play

QBL men: Mackay 107 def Ipswich Force 95 (Kyle Harvey 34, Jayden Ferguson 21).

QBL women: Mackay 73 def Ipswich Force 59 (Georgia Williams 15, Rachel Mate 14).