Avoiding wooden spoon spurring Tactix on

MATT RICHENS
Last updated 05:00 19/06/2012
Ellen Halpenny
DOUG FIELD/Fairfax NZ
ON THE WINNING SIDE: Canterbury Tactix goal attack Ellen Halpenny lines up one of her 21 successful attempts at goal.

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Not to come last doesn't sound like much of a goal, but for a side rebuilding and one that has two wooden spoons in a row, it's a huge carrot.

And on the back of last night's thrilling, come from behind 62-61 win over the Southern Steel in Invercargill, that's now the Canterbury Tactix' goal.

"Absolutely it is," skipper Maree Bowden said. "This year has been a tough year and a year about learning to win. We've only won two games, but we'll be giving it everything now in these last two games and we know we can do it."

With 62 seconds left in the match last night, the Tactix trailed by two before Ellen Halpenny slotted a long range effort then Steel injury replacement and Silver Fern legend Adine Wilson handed the Tactix back possession from a rare error.

Jo Harten scored to level the match at 61-all and with 40 seconds left, they killed time, found Harten again and the English import calmly slotted the winner.

"I'm so proud of the girls," Bowden said. "This is amazing, this is huge for us."

While Bowden was fizzing straight after the win, it was when she sat down in the changing rooms that the enormity of the win hit her.

"I just sat down and balled my eyes out," she said.

"I had 30 text messages saying well done and how proud people were of us, it was pretty special."

While it may seem an over the top reaction to a win in a two-team contest, this is a big deal to the Tactix franchise.

They've made improvements on and off the court across the board this season, but if they finished the ANZ Championship with just one win and the wooden spoon again, they'd have only done the same as the last two years.

This win is something tangible, something the side can point at and say, "see, we are better".

This is the first time the Tactix have won multiple games in a season since 2009 and is their first away win in 1109 days - more than three years.

What made it even more special for Bowden was the way here side stuck to the Steel.

Before leading 62-61, the Tactix' last lead in last night's match was 8-7 early in the first quarter.

The Steel advantage floated between two and five for most of the contest, but where the Tactix would normally fall as the pressure built, they didn't let the Steel slip away.

Their attack - the Tactix' weakness all season - was their strength and their shooting superb.

"To win like that, and to hang in there and not give up, I'm really proud of the girls, this was huge," Bowden said.

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Because of their poor goal percentage, the Tactix still sit in 10th spot in the 10-team competition, but are now equal on points with the Steel and the West Coast Fever.

If they can pick up a win this Sunday against the Northern Mystics - who they lost to by one earlier in the season - or on their tough final away trip to Adelaide, the wooden spoon might have a new name on it.

THE NUMBERS

Canterbury Tactix   62 (15-16-14-17)
Southern Steel     61 (16-19-14-12)

Shooting

Tactix: Jo Harten 41/44 93.18%, Ellen Halpenny 21/26 80.77%.
Steel: Jodi Brown 24/28 85.71%, Donna Wilkins 37/39 94.87%.

- The Press

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