The Townsville Fire advanced to the WNBL preliminary final with a stunning 78-73 elimination semi-final victory over the Melbourne Boomers, with the contest decided by a heart-stopping fourth quarter.
In a see-sawing match, the Fire came out on top having kept their cool in the dying minutes at the free-throw line - and will now face the loser of Sunday's major semi-final, between the Bendigo Spirit and Dandenong Rangers, for a place in the grand final.
"That was like Ali vs Frazier, blow for blow," Townsville assistant coach Mark Alabakov said.
"The swings were for us and against us and the crowd certainly rode the bumps, you could tell by the volume how we were tracking.
"Just when you thought you had a little bit of a gap on (Melbourne) they'd shorten it up pretty quick and it was back into a pound-for-pound contest."
The Fire shot out to a five point lead late in the fourth quarter which looked to have buried Melbourne's hopes, but the Boomers showed trademark heart and came up with back-to-back steals and baskets from Bec Allen to pinch the lead.
Townsville's Mia Newley took it right back with a triple, but Allen responded in kind to silence the crowd as the game headed for a classic conclusion.
But as they had all night, Townsville got to the line and held their nerve, two-time defending MVP Suzy Batkovic, Rachael McCully and Micaela Cocks sealing the deal in the final moments.
Batkovic finished with 24 points, 15 rebounds, five assists, three blocks and two steals in an imposing performance, while Newley (15 points, 7 rebounds) and McCully (14 points, 7 assists) provided invaluable support.
For Melbourne, Allen (22 points, 7 rebounds, 4 steals, 3 blocks) produced a masterpiece at both ends, with Tess Madgen (13 points, 7 assists), Bec Cole (11 points) and Amber Hegge (6 points, 10 rebounds) also strong contributors.
On five occasions the Fire moved five or six points clear, but each time the Boomers refused to let the hosts out of their sight, six late points from Cole keeping Townsville's lead to 37-36 at half-time.
Melbourne continued to roll after the break, Cole scoring again on a classic shuffle cut, then two big three-pointers from Hayley Munro put the visitors ahead 51-47.
The Boomers kept executing, a classy backdoor play from Nicole Romeo to Madgen ensuring they took a 59-58 edge into the final term, but the visitors couldn't produce the necessary magic down the stretch to progress to week two of the finals.