THE season hangs in the balance for the Horsham Lady Hornets with just one round remaining in the Country Basketball League's South West Women conference.
The Lady Hornets are locked in a crowded battle for a finals place, with a double-header at home across the weekend set to decide their fate.
The Lady Hornets have to win both games against fourth-placed Geelong United on Saturday and bottom-placed Colac on Sunday to give themselves a chance.
Lady Hornets coach Tony Sleep said it was an exceptionally even season and an exciting time of the year.
"I think teams one through to seven (on the ladder) can all compete with each other on any given day," Sleep said.
"To be on the brink of finals in such an even competition, it's a really exciting opportunity for us."
Saturday's contest against Geelong, beginning at 5PM at the Horsham Basketball Stadium, is the equivalent of an elimination final for both sides.
Geelong would guarantee themselves a finals spot with victory, while a loss would leave them open to the prospect of being leapfrogged by the Lady Hornets or the Bellarine Storm.
The Lady Hornets meanwhile have to win both of their weekend's games, and hope Bellarine lose one of their two matches against top-three sides Mount Gambier and the Millicent Magic.
It means the Lady Hornets have no time to waste getting back into the swing of things after the Christmas break, with their first game since December 14 their most vital of the season.
"Preparation wise, it's not ideal. Most of us are coming back from a bit of time off," Sleep said. "But the work has been done over the course of the season.
"I'm confident the girls can step up on Saturday night."
Geelong United coach Allen McKee said his young side were excited for a big clash in Horsham.
"It's like a final. It's do or die, so everyone is a bit nervy," he said.
"I think they run through (Faith) McKenzie, who is a key to their success. Others too like (Georgia) Hiscock and (Olivia) Jones ... they run deep."
Geelong won by nine points last time the two sides faced, with Horsham playing the second of a double-header away from home.
"We've just got to keep scrimmaging hard, get up tempo and in the end, it's up to the girls themselves," McKee said.
"Their main issue is they can sometimes worry about winning or losing - we just have to play hard and not worry about results."
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