At the completion of Round 9, Ipswich sat 8th on the QBL ladder with a 4-6 record. After July, the Force now enter the last round of the season in 6th position, with a 9-7 record and a playoff berth set in stone. Whilst the Spartans (5-0) and Pirates (5-1) recorded more wins than the Force throughout July, they were not as dominant as Brad George’s squad.
The highlight of the month for the Force was a victory against second-placed Logan in Round 13, giving Logan only their second loss of the season at the time, closely followed by a 21-point thumping of fourth-placed Gladstone. Other victories were over bottom placed sides Toowoomba (28 points) and Gold Coast (35 points). The only hiccup for the month was against South West Metro, in which Ipswich only went down by three points.
Markel Walker was without a doubt the leading player for the month with impressive averages of 22.6 points, 15.4 rebounds and 6.2 assists on 54% shooting. Four other Force members averaged double figures for the month; Landry (16.4), Williams (12.8), Mate (11.8) and Farley (11.4). These strong offensive contributions led to Ipswich putting up a league-high 92 points for the month.
Going into Round 15 Ipswich get the opportunity to get one back over South West after their extremely close last contest. Both teams will most likely finish in the 6-8 bracket of the ladder, although this match is extremely important for momentum going into the playoffs.
The Heat enter the final round of the QBL regular season tied for top spot on the ladder alongside the Mackay Meteors and Brisbane Capitals. This is largely due to the 5-0 record the team bolstered in the month of July. Rodney Anderson’s mob was able to finish the month undefeated despite some distractions along the way. In Round 11 Townsville were forced to postpone their match against the Brisbane Capitals due to flight issues, before getting delayed flights to play the Spartans on the Sunday.
Across the month, the Heat scored an impressive 95 points per contest, whilst being the only team to keep their opponents to under an average of 80 points (79.8). This led to the squad outscoring their opponents on average by 15 points per game in the month of July, the most of any team.
Anderson’s men knocked off three sides that will feature in the playoffs in Mackay, Cairns and Logan, as well as defeating the Spartans and Power. The triple threat of Wilcher, Baker and Crawford led the charge for the Heat and their incredible shooting and consistency was the highlight. Josh Wilcher averaged an amazing 25 points and 7 assists on 53% shooting (46% from 3), Justin Baker averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds on 54% shooting (45% from 3) and Peter Crawford was also able to shoot 40% from behind the arc whilst putting in 18 points a night.
Due to the postponed match from Round 11, the Heat will finish the season with three matches in Round 15. Despite the tough task, if they are able to knock off USC, Sunshine Coast and Brisbane Capitals all on the road, they will cement top spot and home court advantage throughout the playoffs.