Top spot in the ANZ Premiership may be out of reach for the Northern Stars this season, but being crowned the top Auckland franchise is certainly not.
Riding the wave of a resounding victory over the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic last week, the Stars earned their first winning streak of the season, defeating the Northern Mystics 58-55 at Auckland's Trusts Arena.
Banking two points while overtaking their Northern rivals on the Premiership ladder, the Stars also kept their chances of claiming the Northern Challenge trophy alive.
With the Northern Challenge - a trophy contested between the Mystics and Stars - now at one apiece, the winner will be decided at the final fixture between the sides in round twelve's Super Sunday later this month.
This afternoon, in an opening quarter packed with turnovers, it was the Stars' ability to convert that saw the visitors snatch an early three-goal lead.
Although having the worst defensive record across the league, conceding an average of 59.4 goals per match, up-and-coming Stars defender Kate Burley led her side strongly.
With the additional injection of international experience from import Ama Agbeze and captain Grace Kara, the Stars caused early problems for Mystics shooters Bailey Mes and Jamie Hume.
Meanwhile, Stars shooter Maia Wilson was unfazed by the long reach of Mystics defender Phoenix Karaka, notching 14 goals in the opening stanza.
But by losing their tenacious midcourter Fa'amu Ioane, who suffered an on-court knee injury in the second quarter, the Stars saw a brief lapse in their flow.
The Mystics, on the other hand, had an opportunity to reel in their rivals in Ioane's absence, but with the experienced Anna Thompson on hand to pick up the load at centre, the Stars held tightly to their narrow advantage to stay in the lead 28-26.
A lift in patience throughout the midcourt kept the Mystics in tight contention with the Stars as captain Anna Harrison instilled a sense of calm for her side. And with the Mystics' defensive force snatching vital intercepts, a comeback from the home side looked promising.
But a below-average shooting percentage from Mes kept the Mystics from overtaking their rivals on the scoreboard with the Silver Fern shooting at a disappointing 84 per cent accuracy rate across the match.
With a six-goal lead in the final quarter, the Stars continued to showcase their improved strength in all areas across the court. And as Kara led her side with direction and vision, the Stars kept their lead.
Showing moments of brilliance, the Mystics teased their ability to catch to the front-running Stars, but there seemed to be nothing the home side could do to topple their opponents.
The Mystics now face the harsh reality of being at the bottom of the table and will need to kick things into gear if they wish to claim a spot in the top three before August's fast-approaching finals.
The Magic will play the Southern Steel tomorrow night at Hamilton's Claudelands Arena, where the Waikato side will look to edge closer toward a spot in the top three.
But with influential captain Casey Kopua suspected to be ruled out of the match with a foot injury, a win for the Magic could be tough.
Kopua injured her foot moments before taking to the court against the Stars on Wednesday night, with the injury's severity yet to be announced by team management.