It was a tale of three seasons in one for the Bendigo Spirit.
In December they were hampered by injuries, COVID-19 then struck the league which resulted in several games being cancelled and then eventually towards the end of January the team was able to finally get to work.
The Spirit only just missed out on a spot in the finals after clawing their way back up the ladder in final stages of the regular season by winning six out of their last eight games.
Without finals mathematically out of reach there was one team goal that still remained accomplishable - to finish fifth on the ladder.
On Sunday the Spirit seized the opportunity to secure their goal with a gutsy 12-point win over Sydney Flames, final scores 85-73.
"It was a tough match and a great way to finish off the season," Spirit coach Tracy York said.
"Given everything that happened at the start of the season, plus missing out on games that were cancelled, if we were able to play a couple more we would've had a strong chance at finals.
"Once we were in a position to have everyone on the floor we did really well."
Regardless of no finals appearance, York couldn't be prouder of how her team bounced back to wrap up 2021-22 - the club's best finish since 2015.
"It really was an outstanding finish to the season," York said.
"My mantra to every player was that we clock on, all do our jobs and heading into Sunday to finish fifth on the ladder was the best we could've done.
"Everyone played as a team and all players had the chance to step up."
Maddie Garrick top-scored for the Spirit with a mammoth 32 points, five rebounds and one steal.
Next up was Carly Boag, who was playing her 100th WNBL game, on 16 points, three rebounds, two assists, two blocks and two steals.
Anneli Maley also notched a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds.
The top effort secured Maley as the regular season league's top scorer on 19.8 points per game and leading rebounder with 15.6 per game.
"To end the season as the league's highest scorer and rebounder is a credit to Anneli," York said.
"Maddie also had a great night out with 32 points as well as Carly who came off the bench and was outstanding.
"Carly is poised, makes the right passes and shots under pressure and once she gets going only becomes quicker and faster across the court."
Garrick praised her team for the never-say-die win over the Flames on Sunday.
"We knew it was going to be a fight to finish off the season with a win...it shows that we've really improved this season and I couldn't be more happy of the girls," she said.
More basketball: Boomers take out WNBL minor premiership
The 2021-22 WNBL finals series will see Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Canberra in contention for the championship title.
The action tips off this Thursday for semi-final one between Melbourne and Adelaide.
Canberra is in the hunt for a historic 10th championship.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.