The Northern Stars have finished their disappointing ANZ Premiership season on a high after claiming a stunning 65-59 comeback victory over the Southern Steel.
Although the Stars were already out of contention for the playoffs, they played with passion and pride to close their season in style.
The Stars move into fifth on the ladder and could avoid the wooden spoon depending on the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic's result against the Mainland Tactix tomorrow night. Meanwhile, the Steel have undoubtedly suffered a dent to their confidence ahead of the elimination finals next Wednesday night - where they will meet either the Tactix or Northern Mystics depending on their respective results.
In a stunning start to the clash, Stars sharpshooter Maia Wilson was in sublime form under the hoop and found good connection with her captain Grace Kara, who led her attacking unit from the front.
Meanwhile, the Steel were without their top shooter Jen O'Connell, who was ruled out of the clash due to illness, leaving Te Paea Selby-Rickit at goal shoot with Olivia Bates at goal attack.
The relatively fresh shooting duo struggled to gather momentum under the pressure of leading Stars defender Kate Burley, but their overall accuracy saw the Steel draw level in the opening quarter at 15 apiece.
Steel captain Wendy Frew led her side with passion and tenacity while midcourter Gina Crampton found an effortless connection with her shooters from the circle edge as the Steel took a narrow three-goal at halftime. However, it wasn't enough to dampen the home side's spirit as the Northerners returned to the court hungrier than ever.
Suddenly storming ahead, the Stars took firm control of the final quarters while the Steel struggled to keep up. The Stars' attacking unit was in fluid form across the court while stellar intercepts from Burley ignited the noisy home crowd.
With nothing but pride to play for, the home side held their ground to take the win, and a chance of avoiding the ignominy of last place.
Stars captain Grace Kara said it was nice to end the season on a high and believed the result left some hope for next year's side.
"It's really nice to be able to reward the fans and the girls for all their hard work throughout the season," Kara said.
"We saw glimpses of what we were capable of throughout the season and I think that we played some really good netball tonight and it really reflected on the scoreline."
The Tactix will play the Magic tomorrow night at Hamilton's Claudelands Arena in a crucial match that could determine whether the Mainland side make the playoffs.
Should the Tactix defeat the Magic and the Mystics lose to the Central Pulse, the Tactix will advance to the elimination final against the Steel. But if both the Tactix and Mystics win their final fixtures this week, the final playoff will be decided by goal percentage.
As the Mystics currently hold a 1.62 per cent lead in that tiebreaker, the Tactix's scoreline tomorrow night could become the deciding factor.