CAPRICORN Claws coach Katrina Whitham rated her team's 49-44 come-from-behind win against Brisbane West Lions as one of the most gutsy she has seen.
It was the third win for the season for the Rockhampton Leagues Club Claws after suffering a nail-biting 66-46 loss against the Golden South Jaguars on Saturday night.
The Claws desperation matched their precision as they crushed championship contenders, Lions, by five-goals at Runaway Bay, Gold Coast.
Eighth-placed Claws had winners all over the court, and they needed to, for one more loss could effectively end their hopes of reaching the finals.
Goal-keeper Diane Tummon, facing a tough examination from towering Queensland Fusion shooter Alanah Cassidy, worked brilliantly with Saturday's player-of-the-match Shenae Grant in the defensive circle.
Vice-captain Shanita Smith worked tirelessly to help restrict the impact of Cassidy, helping force turnover in the centre court.
At the other end, goal-shooter Kira-Lee Nicol continued her standout form, shooting 40 out of 49 attempts at 85%.
An unchanged lineup gave Rockhampton Grammar School student Mikeeley Hoch an opportunity to prove herself in the centre court, while Whitham recalled the services of Courtney Wheeler in wing attack.
"Our feeding was great against the Lions. Our midcourters worked hard all-game to help send the ball smoothly from the defensive end into the shooting circle," Whitham said.
"The girls had the patience, timing and spatial awareness which ultimately won them the game."
Proving their mettle when down 12-11 after the first quarter the Claws, who struggled to find form after their 20-point defeat, simply refused to give up.
Coach Whitham said she always knew it was going to be a difficult game against the second-placed Lions but was proud her girls had never backed down.
RLC Capricorn Claws 49 (GS Karen Petherick , GA Kira Nicol, WA Courtney Wheeler, C Mikeeley Hoch, WD Shanita Smith, GD Shenae Grant, GK Diane Tummon) def Brisbane West Lions 44 at Runaway Bay yesterday
"They kept coming back at us but we took two quick turnovers and learned to cherish the ball for the rest of the game," she said.
"But the Lions didn't give it to us easily, we had to fight all the way."
By half-time the Claws had edged ahead 25-24 and were determined to maintain their lead for the remaining two quarters.
The high stakes ensured there were no easy balls or open looks in the second half.
It became a battle between the shooters, with Leo and Karen Petherick working hard to convert.
"We have been working on our attacking end at training and that was definitely evident in our games this weekend," Whitham said.
"Our conversion rate was a lot higher in comparison to other games this season.
"The girls realised what they were supposed to do and not crowd the ball."
The Claws went into the fourth quarter 38-33 ahead, going on to steal the match.
"The Lions are a strong squad so the win has given the girls a bit of a morale boost," Whitham said.
"To steal five goals from them has helped with their self-belief and they proved they are capable of a finals berth."