In sports they call it "clutch" - the phenomenon of athletes under pressure being able to summon whatever resources they can to succeed, often at the very end of the game.
A six-point turnaround in under four minutes, to go from trailing by four goals to winning 44-42, was a clutch performance from Phillips Electrical Whanganui High against Wanganui Car Centre Kaierau A1 in the big game of the third round of Premier at Springvale Stadium on Monday night.
In a tight and whistle-heavy matchup between the two leading contenders for the season crown, WHS did not have the services of defender Sophie Andrews, who was out with concussion.
Coach Lisa Murphy used Molly Bullock at goal defence in partnership with Kara Adrole, but having just returned from injury herself, Bullock would limp out of the game in the second quarter.
Coming up from the second tier squad, Natalya Ross did her best in the position, but with Kaierau leading by a goal coming into the final quarter and WHS not getting their usual scoring quota in the face of some good defence, new student Timaima Tuinsaoni was brought into goal keep with Adrole swapping to GD.
Tuinsaoni had only been a shooter previously for WHS, but Murphy said she is adept at either end, and the newcomer's hand speed and athleticism helped create multiple turnovers, as the goal-scoring from both sides had dried up midway through the quarter before WHS came charging home.
Goal shoot Montel Vaiao Aki and her playmaking partner Imogen Flower found their second wind, as before that, Kaierau's defenders in busy GD Hannah Kelly and GK Leigha Stormont had been slowly but surely starting to get on top of them from the second quarter onwards.
Kaierau wing defender Kerwyn Morgan had a good tussle with WHS wing attack Keilani Tyrell – both sets of midcourters putting in that extra burst of energy to try and dash across court for some open space, while the goal attacks each came well out of the circle at different times to set up lob passes.
Setting up the GS right under the net became a rare commodity for both teams, outside of penalty shots.
Early on, WHS had their noses in front with Aki sinking 100 percent in the first quarter, getting 13 from 13, while Flower popped in a couple of long range goals when there was no other option.
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After exchanging goal-for-goal, WHS got out to 15-11 nearing the end of the quarter when Kaierau had wracked up a few penalties, before the club team finished strong with two completions and being under the net again on the siren at 15-13.
With Stormont crowding the space, Aki had her first miss straight after resumption and Kaierau swooped to briefly take the lead 16-15, before play returned to a goal-for-goal shootout.
An experienced outfit, Kaierau had the faith to send long passes back from the shooting circle to Kelly or centre Kataraina Hakaraia, if that meant opening the channels back up to find another way into the goal.
Meanwhile, WHS were very quick to transfer defence turnovers into attack, although patience was occasionally lacking and they would spill possession out of bounds at the other end.
There were several instances of both teams making intercepts on consecutive possessions, therefore balancing out the turnovers.
Kaierau maintained the edge 22-19, before WHS switched the tempo to regain the lead 24-23.
After the equaliser goal, it took a great screen by Kaierau's back four, with Stormont getting the steal on Aki, to keep a 24-24 deadlock at the halftime.
Kaierau brought on Chaana Morgan at goal shoot for Rebekah Alabaster, and although giving up a height disadvantage to Adrole, Morgan played her percentages well as her team hung onto a one-goal lead for most of the third quarter.
Wing attack Hayley Addenbrooke would search for long pass options, as the two centres Rebecca Tamiti and Hakaraia had a good tussle for the ball.
Flower went to the left far corner to send some lovely passes back into the circle for Aki to convert, while at the other end, Kaierau goal attack Alicia Prince had to deliver on at least three long shots and she scored every one.
WHS had briefly got up 34-31, but again Kaierau finished the stronger to move ahead 36-35 at three quarter time, with the scores having been tied eight times in the last 15 minutes.
While Tuinasoni's arrival saw an immediate turnover for WHS to capitalise at 38-36, the schoolgirls were being made to work on attack and errors were creeping in, with passes being tipped away and snatched by Kaierau's midcourters.
Prince hit another couple of long goals as infringements were stacking up on WHS, and at 42-38 to Kaierau with less than four minutes on the clock in a low-scoring quarter, they could just about sight the promised land.
But making the conscious choice they were not going to lie down, WHS converted both possessions and Tuinasoni got a lightning hand out to bat away Kaierau's ball, followed by Tamiti sending a great pass over traffic to put Aki under the net and close the gap to 42-41.
Kaierau just needed to work the ball around and finish off, but Tuinasoni forced another big steal from right over Morgan's shoulder, leading to Aki getting the equaliser back up court.
With under 90 seconds left, Kaierau still had possession, but Tuinasoni and Adrole were now unbreachable, and Flower flicked off consecutive great passes to Aki in-goal, who made no mistake.
Only the week before, WHS had seen a ten-goal advantage shrink to five by fulltime against Kaiwhaiki, so Murphy was naturally delighted with the composure to come back at the death this time.
"For me, it was just [important], as school girls, it's a big thing to use their last two inches.
"A pretty cool feeling for them, because Kaierau are a lovely team, been together for a while."
Across on Court 2, there was another thriller as Kaierau A2 earned their first competition point since coming up to this grade after fighting out a 48-48 stalemate with Mere Te Aroha.
Coming off the bye, Mere Te Aroha were trailing 13-10 at quarter time, but reasserted themselves to lead 24-22 at the half.
They extended that advantage to 38-35 heading into the final quarter, which was very intense and included a stoppage after a Kaierau player took a heavy spill.
The A2 team fought back and had the last possession before the fulltime whistle to get the equalising goal.