Playing through pain barrier inspires Force
BASKETBALL: Superior shooting and a courageous effort from Amanda "AJ'' Johnson lifted Ipswich Force to one of their best wins of the state league season.
The Force women were back on target - scoring points and improving their record to seven wins from 10 games - in their 102-70 victory over South West Metro last night.
Johnson led the way with 32 points and 17 rebounds after needing painkillers through the week for a sore back.
"AJ was amazing,'' head coach Brad George said after his side moved into third spot on the Queensland Basketball League ladder.
"She didn't train all week. She couldn't walk. She was on painkillers all week.
"She was questioning whether she could play or not.
"She toughed it out and tried to free it up.''
George said his team was starting to show what it could produce after a disrupted start.
"Having a few games now back-to-back, we're really getting some momentum and getting used to each other,'' George said.
"As a team it was really, really good. Our shooting was outstanding.''
The Force men completed a timely double for Ipswich by beating South West Metro 93-83 in the match that followed.
Vice-captain Kyle Harvey continued his pointscoring assault with 40 in Ipswich's third win from 10 games.
"We'd prefer to be further than where we are,'' head coach Chris Riches said. "But it was good last night to see us more consistent on the floor.''
Accepting that is his developing team's biggest challenge, Riches was pleased to see his players use the ball better over four quarters.
"Kyle dominated throughout the game but there were a lot of contributors to points on the board,'' Riches said.
"Over time, they are starting to get better and better and better at what they do.''
Riches praised Marty Leahy for his improved effort and Josh Spiers for another consistent offensive and defensive display.
Captain Jason Ralph led the team well.
"Jason is like Mr Dependable for us and he's really a guy that without him on the floor, we look like a completely different unit,'' the coach said.
In the women's game, George praised all his players for a committed effort where they led 28-16 after the first quarter before upping the tempo. Force won the final quarter 25-15.
"Most of the times we've been starting really well but going through patches where we just aren't scoring or hit the shots,'' George said.
That changed on Saturday night, led by Johnson and Amy Lewis, who delivered another strong performance.
Starters Lauren O'Sullivan and Georgia Ralph (nee Williams) also made valuable contributions.
"They all played really, really well,'' George said.
Apart from ensuring AJ was right, George's main concern was losing valuable bench player Catherine Macgregor to a broken finger.
Force will also lose Lewis after their next home doubleheader against the Gold Coast (Friday night) and Brisbane Capitals (Saturday).
State of play
QBL men: Ipswich Force 93 (Kyle Harvey 40, Josh Spiers 15) def South West Metro 83.
QBL women: Ipswich Force 102 (Amanda Johnson 32, Georgia Ralph 18) def South West Metro 70.
Next games: Friday night v Gold Coast; Saturday night v Brisbane at Ipswich stadium.