Time out as successful state league coach, dad plans future
BASKETBALL: After guiding his team to the finals in each of his nine state league seasons as head coach, Brad George knows what it's like to tackle challenges.
However, with a young family, the Bremer State High School teacher will take some time to reflect before considering any coaching roles next season.
"I haven't decided. I'll leave it open,'' George said after watching his Ipswich Force team bow out of last night's Queensland Basketball League semi-finals.
"I haven't been approached by Ipswich yet.
"I'll have a little bit of a break and then see what comes up.''
Despite another late surge to get within three points, the Force women were unable to run down the experienced Southern Districts Spartans on their home court at Carina.
The Spartans won 87-80, having only lost one match in the 18-game regular season.
"They are a good side,'' George said.
"Like good teams do, if you make mistakes, they just punish you.''
The Spartans led 25-20 at the first quarter, building that to 46-39 at halftime and 69-58 heading into the final quarter.
While hopeful Force could qualify for their second grand final under his tenure, George was far from disappointed with his team's latest effort.
"We made a late charge,'' he said, pleased how his team responded trailing by 15 points with three and a half minutes to go.
"We could have thrown in the towel but we really fought hard to get it back (within reach).
"But with their experience and the depth they've got, whenever we missed a few easy layouts or shots, a couple of turnovers, good teams will make you pay, which they did.
"They played really well.
"They lost one game all year. They deserved to be there.''
The Spartans will play Gold Coast in the grand final after the Rollers upset home team Townsville 77-76 in their overtime semi-final.
As he ponders his future, George will look back on his team's 2019 campaign with mixed emotions.
"It was one of those frustrating seasons,'' he said.
"It didn't matter what happened, there was always something.
"Whenever we thought we'd get rolling, someone would get injured.''
That included American import Kaili McLaren who Force lost just before the finals with a knee injury. She's heading home to Washington to recover.
On a positive note, Force's other import Amanda "AJ'' Johnson was the standout again in her second season with Ipswich.
Despite dealing with her own injury issues, AJ never let the team down.
She topscored with 32 points on Saturday night before heading home to San Francisco for a well-deserved break.
George said regulars like Georgia Ralph, Rachel Mate, captain Bree Farley and Amy Lewis made valuable contributions.
Another positive was the development of young representative players like Grace Ellis and Catherine Macgregor.
"It's good to see a couple of good young players take the next step,'' George said.
State of play
QBL women's semi-final 1: Southern Districts Spartans 87 (Odette Isaac 30) def Ipswich Force 80 (Amanda Johnson 32, Amy Lewis 19).
Semi-final 2: Gold Coast def Townsville 77-76 in overtime.