A dominant performance from young shooter Kelsey McPhee has led the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic to a crucial 57-50 win over the Mainland Tactix in front of an energetic home crowd on Monday night.
The 21-year-old showed plenty of confidence in a rare starting appearance, which resulted in her collecting the match MVP award. She shot accurately from all parts of the circle and got up for the rebound or tipped the ball to her teammates on the unlikely occasion she missed - finishing with an 87 per cent mark; slotting 40 of her 46 attempts.
The Magic's win gave them a much-needed three points, and while the positions on the ladder remain unchanged, they clawed closer to the top three spots needed to make the finals, sitting four points behind the Northern Stars with five games to go.
They also managed to deny the Tactix of a bonus point, confining them to the bottom of the table for another week.
The Tactix changed their defensive structure multiple times to try shut down McPhee, but were ultimately unsuccessful, as the Magic managed to pull away in the third quarter thanks to a strong performance through all areas of the court.
Ellie Bird was the dominant shooter down the other end, netting 43 from 46 attempts to keep the Tactix in the contest early, but the international in-circle defensive duo of Casey Kopua and Kelly Jury were contesting every ball into the circle.
Former Australian international Kate Beveridge had a quiet day, shooting five from 10 before being substituted with 10 minutes left for Brooke Leaver. The replacement had an immediate impact, providing more options in the circle, but by that stage, the Magic were fully in control.
In her last season with the Magic, captain Kopua proved to be a constant menace, and on that form could still be a major presence for the Silver Ferns in the upcoming World Cup.
The Magic are now on a two-game winning streak, but things get much tougher from here. Their next three games are against the two teams at the top of the table, with two clashes against the currently unbeaten Central Pulse, and a showdown with the Southern Steel.