The Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic wanted to finish their 2021 ANZ Premiership season on a high, farewelling Amigene Metcalfe in her last game as coach of the Magic.
But it was not to be, as the side went down 65-46 to the Stars in both sides' final hitout of the season last night.
Neither team had anything to lose, as both missed out on Finals Series contention - the Splice Construction Magic after a disappointing season and the Stars falling at the last hurdle, after being the team to beat for the first half of the season.
Many were picking the Magic to go all the way this year, picking up Australian international Caitlin Bassett in the off-season, as well as defender Temalisi Fakahokotau.
Their season started well, defeating the Northern Mystics by four goals in their Round 1 match, but they never managed to replicate that magic since, losing every game since then.
Managing injuries to key players along the way, the Magic came close many times, losing by five or fewer in seven of their 14 losses.
The Magic managed to get all of their squad on court for their final game, but no combination Metcalfe tried could stop the flow of the ball to the Stars, who finished the game on a whopping 95 attempts at goal.
Looking ahead to international netball, Magic players will be optimistic about their Silver Ferns chances, but captain Sam Winders is one who gave her heart out on the court every week and her never-give-up attitude may see her make the squad.
Reflecting on what she admitted was her toughest season, Winders was disappointed with the way her team's campaign ended.
"I feel gutted that we finished like this, and with a performance that I don't think reflects how we've actually gone this season, the gains we've had and that is really disappointing."
Paying tribute to departing coach Metcalfe, Winders said "she's given so much to this club, given so much to the franchise, she's the epitome of what it means to be loyal to a club, right through her playing years and then coaching our team as well".
With the regular season over, the Elimination Final will be contested between the Steel and the Tactix, with the winner taking on the Mystics at Spark Arena on August 8.