Dunman Secondary School ended a 10-year wait for their second Schools National C Division netball title yesterday with a nail-biting 25-23 win over heavy favourites CHIJ (Toa Payoh).
No wonder then that some of the Dunman players cried while others hugged one another when the final whistle blew at the OCBC Arena.
Dunman co-captain Isralina Johan, 13, certainly savoured the moment. The Secondary One student and her team-mates had spent close to 10 hours a week preparing for this tournament.
She said: "We trained hard for four months for this."
An upset against CHIJ, who were chasing their fifth straight C Division title, looked unlikely after the defending champions seized a 9-3 lead after the first quarter. But the 12 Dunman players, including substitutes, narrowed the gap to just one point, 11-10, at half-time.
The fourth quarter would prove decisive for Dunman, whose triumph in 2007 was the school's first since the sport was introduced to Dunman in 1967, as they finally seized the advantage.
The final 10-minute period was nerve-racking, said Dunman co-captain Misha Rashid. The 13-year-old Secondary One student added: "It was a really tough game. We were quite nervous. But the last quarter was also the most enjoyable. We had a comeback after being down by so many points. In the last quarter we gave it our best."
Whatever nerves they felt, they kept it well under control, noted Dunman coach Vivian De Silva.
She said: "They worked extremely hard and kept their calm. I think that gave us a little edge."
Dunman last made the C Division final in 2015 but were trashed 34-15 by CHIJ.
For CHIJ coach Kok Mun Wai, who has amassed 23 schools national netball titles since 1996, there was disappointment. But she also recognised an opportunity for her young charges to grow.
She said: "A lot of them are in Secondary One, they can learn from this."
There was some joy for Kok as CHIJ clinched their third straight B Division title, after beating Singapore Sports School 42-18 in the later match.
Correction note: In our earlier caption for the first picture, we identified SSP's goal shooter wrongly as Priscilla Wong. The shooter is Germaine Au Shi Tong. We are sorry for the error.