Following their stand out performances in Round 8, congratulations to Jaryd Eustace, Ipswich Force and Kate Gaze, Logan Thunder who take out the Player of the week Award.
Jaryd Eustace – Ipswich Force
Coming off a much needed win last week at Bundaberg, the Force entered this round looking to finally establish some momentum to set up for their back half season run. Building on a vastly improved offense, the Force continued their run of eclipsing triple figures over the weekend to overcome the Rip 119-80 then outpace pool rival Mountaineers 117-111, the highest aggregate score of the season. Now on a three-game run, the Force’s recent turnaround coincides with the newfound confidence shown by Jaryd Eustace who takes out Round 8’s Player of the Week.
Having struggled for much impact from the bench so far in 2016, Eustace showed a sign of things to come when he notched a season high 20pts last week against the Bulls. He repaid the faith again on Friday night with 22 points from only 20 minutes off the bench against the Rip, only perennial scoring leader Legan contributing more. Eustace again came out ready to play on Sunday against the Mountaineers where his influence was vital in a tight high-scoring affair, his 18 points @ 75% off the pine to go with 6 rebounds and a game-high 7 assists arguably proving the difference in a result that could be crucial as the regular season hits its final stages.
At only 22 years of age, Eustace is still in the very early stages of his career and his evident potential is finally starting to show. The BBC alumnus returned home last year after two seasons of NCAA D1 action with the Miami Redhawks, and after a small taste of QBL action in 2015 with 5 games for the Wizards, his upside was seen by the Force who took him on for this year and it’s now starting to pay dividends. Moving on from a low key slow opening month of performances, Eustace has hit his stride and with that has given the added edge the Force needed if they want to go deep this season.
In other games across Round 8 Ryan Jeffries hit a season high 30pts as the Caps got an important pool result over Phoenix-Clippers, Mitch Philp notched his own season high of 31pts as the Rockets worked past the Rollers, while Chris Whitehead was phenomenal despite the ‘Neers double defeat with 27pts then a mammoth 51pts against the Rip and Force respectively.
Kate Gaze – Logan Thunder
In just their second season back in the league, the Thunder are riding high on a 6 game wave to be the form team from the South and currently look the most likely to shake up the northern powerhouses. They were on a road double over the weekend and came through unscathed with a 81-68 win over last years’ finalists the Power, then overcame a slow start against pool rival the Bears to come away comfortably 78-56. Continuing on with her stellar season, Kate Gaze put up massive outputs in each clash and claim Player of the Week for Round 8
Gaze shook off some early jitters to lead the Thunder past a desperate Power outfit with a game high 33 points, 13 of those coming in the final term when the game was in the balance and included some big 3’s early which helped her team put the foot down. She cranked it up further against the Bears in racking up a season (and round) high of 40 points while also contributing an equal team high 5 assists. This bumper weekend for Gaze has seen her rise to become one of the premier scorers in the league and now sit third on averages, equal second on three’s and is also the second-most assured player from the stripe.
Gaze’s consistent dominance this season comes as no surprise when you briefly look at her playing history. The former U19 & U20 Australia rep played WNBL for the AIS in her teens before moving on to the Australian college hotbed at St Mary’s for four seasons. On her return home she landed at the Townsville Fire and found immediate success with two WNBL Championships and is now the marquee signing for the Thunder after spending last off season in SEABL with Frankston. A cousin of Australian basketball deity Andrew Gaze, Kate is living up to the famous name and promises to carve out her own legacy over the coming years.
Other shining performances in Round 8 included Soana Lucet amassing a trip-double then double-double against the Rip and Mountaineers respectively as the Force finally found some winning form, Samantha Norwood went big with 23pts-18 rebs in the Cyclones win over the Rollers, while Tami Willey continued her purple patch with 31pts-9rebs as the Meteorettes continued to fly high in victory over the Rollers.