Having to do it the hard way, Splice Construction Magic made no mistake when it counted most after posting a 57-51 extra time win over Trident Homes Tactix in Christchurch on Sunday.
With both teams out of Finals Series contention and playing for pride, the tussle between the two bottom-placed teams displayed just that during the second extra time match of Round 12.
Seemingly heading towards victory when comfortably-placed at three quarter time, the Magic had to withstand a cracking finish by the home side. A big lift in defensive intensity from the Tactix in the run home helped push the red and blacks into the lead with 20 seconds to go of regular time.
Magic shooter Ameliaranne Ekenasio stepped up to slot the equaliser with four seconds to spare leaving a 51-all stalemate and extra time beckoning.
The Magic knocked the wind out of the Tactix sails with a dominant six minutes of extra-time, keeping the home side scoreless to complete an exciting win.
With illness continuing to effect teams, the Tactix were missing midcourter Samon Nathan and defender Kelera Nawai-Caucau for this outing. Parris Petera slotted in at wing defence for the home side while for the Magic, evergreen defender Leana de Bruin lined up for her 228th national league match.
Enjoying more ball, it was the Magic who jumped out to an early lead before being reeled in by the home side.
Goal attack Te Paea Selby-Rickit was an influential figure at the Tactix attack end, controlling the home side’s momentum while showing her accuracy under the hoop. Defenders Erena Mikaere and de Bruin were effective foils in shutting down the presence of towering shooter Ellie Bird for the home side who were slow out of the blocks.
However, with Selby-Rickit showing all her experience, the home side finished with four straight goals to head into the first break with a 13-11 lead.
Georgia Tong replaced Mikaere on the resumption but it was the Tactix who kept their noses in front through an at times disjointed match where fortunes ebbed and flowed.
Selby-Rickit continued her high work rate which coincided with Bird’s accuracy and volume picking up during the second term but with midcourt changes, the momentum stalled for the home side.
With Kimiora Poi moving to wing attack, Charlotte Elley to centre and Julia Wynands coming off the bench to wing defence, the Tactix took time to settle the new connections which opened the door for the Magic.
Needing no second invitation, the Magic hit the lead late in the piece, shooters Ekenasio and Bailey Mes finding their range under the hoop while hard-working centre Claire Kersten was in the thick of action both on attack and defensively.
Edging in front, it was the Magic who turned the tables during a productive second stanza to lead 16-12 at the main break.
An ever-building Magic made a significant move during the third quarter after goal-for-goal exchanges opened proceedings.
Grabbing the initiative through defensive gains, the Magic increasingly found their timing and rhythm on attack to gain the upper hand. Mes showed her all-round ability with defensive turnovers while combining sweetly with goal shoot Ekenasio.
In turn, Ekenasio, with increasing game-time under her belt, showed her renowned skills with an influential day out through her movement, positional play and consistent accuracy under the hoop.
The Tactix could not match the Magic’s smooth through-court transition and were held back by stalled momentum and hesitancy as the Magic hit three-quarter time with a 43-37 lead.