Tactix shock Mystics to keep Magic's season alive
There were tears in the eyes of Tactix coach Marianne Delaney-Hoshek as she spoke about her team's incredible 57-46 win over the Mystics on Sunday.
Having endured a season from hell a change of coach and just one win from 14 previous games, this was just one more fixture for the team to get through before the offseason and rebuilding could begin.
The Tactix had nothing to play for, while the Mystics had everything on the line.
A win would have given them home court advantage for the elimination final against the Pulse, a loss by five points or less and they'd be travelling to Wellington.
Instead, they came away with nothing and are reliant on the Magic not beating the Stars by more than 15 points on Wednesday night in Tauranga.
That's all of no concern to Delaney-Hoshek, who witnessed her team pull off a remarkable against the odds win and she was struggling to control her emotions in the aftermath.
"The connections were there, they played with passion and they did it," she said.
"We had nothing to lose and it was a crunch situation for them to get to the finals.
"We've always wanted to put that performance together for the four quarters.
"Every week, even though we've lost games, the girls have dug deep and they've comeback and trained."
The win means the Tactix will be able to approach the off-season with a bit more optimism, they've shown that this is a team with fight.
They played consistent netball, fed off the numerous Mystics mistakes and had the game sown up by the end of the third quarter.
"It was a great way to finish," Delaney-Hoshek said. "Because you're only remembered by your last game."
In the lead up to this, Mystics coach Helene Wilson said their focus was on putting in their best performance. Well it turned out to be one of their worst.
Errors were there right from the beginning and it gave the Tactix confidence to pull off this upset.
"We threw too much ball away," Wilson said.
"We didn't stick to the plan of how we wanted to play and put long, high balls in the air, which is always dangerous when you're playing a team that has a physical aerial player like Temalisi (Fakahokotau) at the back.
"Their defence unit gained confidence in getting their hands on the ball with intercepts, so we needed to not allow them to do that and we didn't."
There's no doubt that the Tactix defence made their presence felt, in first quarter alone Mystics goal shoot Bailey Mes, got a hit in the face and twice crashed to the floor as she was outmuscled in the air.
Mes was clearly unhappy about the physical attention on her and so too was Wilson.
"It's always dangerous for players when they're in the air and a player body checks them," Wilson said.
"If that was a game of rugby, I'm sure there might have been some yellow cards.
"You don't want netball to come to that, but we have to play a way that takes the opportunity away from players to play that way.
"We have to be smarter than that, so the umpire doesn't have to make that decision."
So it all comes down to the final game of the regular season and it's one where the Mystics will be hoping for a favour from their near neighbours.
"It's not in our hands any more," Wilson said.
"We had the opportunity to have control of our season and we'll have to sit and wait."
Meanwhile, Central completed an unbeaten campaign, pipping Mainland 43-41 in the second tier Beko League final in Auckland on Sunday.
Central led by seven goals at three quarter time (33-26), but Mainland finished with a flourish to set up a tense end to the match.
Central's victory in the final went some way to atoning for the disappointment of last year, where they lost in the decider to South.
Tactix shooter Ellie Bird did all she could in the losing cause for Mainland, impressing with 31/35.
AT A GLANCE:
Tactix 57 (Brooke Leaver 32/39, Anna Thompson 25/33) beat Mystics 46 (Maria Tutaia 24/28, Bailey Mes 22/23) Q1:17-14, HT: 33-22, Q3: 42-32.
Beko League final: Central 43 (Jermaine Howard-Vallance 33/45, Eseta Autagavaia 5/6, Kelsey McPhee 5/7) Mainland 41 (Ellie Bird 31/35, Tiana Placid 10/17, Bella James 0/1) 1Q: 13-12, HT: 25-21, 3Q: 33-26.