Why our captain is a positive Force at work
HAVING found extra balance in her life, Ipswich Force captain Bree Farley senses another high-flying season ahead for her state league team.
If Force's finishing performance against Cairns is any indication, Farley is right.
After a scratchy, low-scoring first quarter, the Force women fired up when it mattered to repel the Cairns threat at Llewellyn Stadium on Saturday night.
Force's 74-67 basketball victory provided plenty of optimism as Farley linked with American newcomer Amanda "AJ" Johnson and last year's consistent teammates Rachel Mate and Georgia Williams.
Exciting Ipswich talent Kate Head also thrived in a starting role, looking to make a valuable contribution this season.
But the first-up win didn't come easy.
Cairns mounted a determined challenge, reducing Ipswich's lead to four points in the last 40 seconds before Force's composure shone through.
"Cairns are always a tough opponent and we know they are never going to go away,'' Farley said.
"At halftime, we were well aware that we had a lead (38-32) but we can't be content and go along with them. We have to actually beat them.
"I'm happy that we really gutsed that win out.''
In her fourth year with the Force, Farley was feeling positive after securing a job having spent her off-season graduating with her masters degree in occupational therapy.
"I'm working full-time so it's a bit of difference where basketball is not my only focus,'' Farley, 27, said.
"It is a great balance to my life and I'm excited when I get to basketball and I'm fresh for work as well.''
Ipswich's win was also pleasing in that Force's turnovers were quite low for the game, which helped when the team's shooting was wayward at times.
After settling into the match, Force led 54-47 going into the final term.
The fearless Mate and busy AJ finished with 21 points each.
Farley contributed a valuable 16, including a decisive three-pointer midway through the third quarter that ended a run on missed attempts.
AJ and Mate followed Farley's lead with crucial three-pointers as the tempo increased.
Playing with loads of desperation and taking some tumbles, Mate made a terrific start in her second QBL Women's season with the Ipswich team.
A three-pointer from Mate on the buzzer set up Ipswich's seven-point halftime advantage. She earlier scored the first points of the new season for Force.
Williams chipped in late in the game when needed.
"I think that's a good strength to our team,'' Farley said. "We're not relying on one person to do all the scoring.
"We displayed that kind of perfectly tonight.''
Of the talented young brigade, Head was like a blue heeler around the court as she used her speed to advantage.
Catherine Macgregor, Loie Webb, Iris Cubit and Brooklyn Betham also received court time in line with coach Brad George's youth policy.
"That's a really big win still having one of our imports (Gintare Mazionyte) out and we've got some older players and we've got a lot of young players,'' she said.
"They were local Ipswich juniors. They've been coming up the last few years and it's so great that they get an opportunity. And they are really taking it.
"Kate (Head) played a great game tonight.''
State of play
QBL women: Ipswich Force 74 (Rachel Mate 21, Amanda Johnson 21, Bree Farley 16) def Cairns Dolphins 67.
Next match: Next Sunday (noon) v Logan at Llewellyn Stadium, Booval.