SINGAPORE - They were trailing 5-1 almost halfway through the 10-minute SPH Foundation National Primary Schools Tchoukball Girls' (Seniors) Championships final on Monday (May 27).
But defending champions Farrer Park Primary School forced the tie into two three-minute extra-time periods, before retaining their title with a 15-12 win over Junyuan Primary School at the Singapore Basketball Association.
Despite missing the last two weeks of training owing to a change in their examination schedule, and with almost half of their 11-strong team fasting during Ramadan, Farrer Park still managed to beat Junyuan, who have finished in the top four since 2016.
Farrer Park coach Jeff Ang was proud of his team for retaining their title.
The 47-year-old said: "There was a bit of rustiness but what was commendable was their fighting spirit. We have five players fasting but they really gave their all and didn't want to just give up.
"The game was very close until the last minute. Both teams were fairly matched in terms of tactics and techniques, but the girls' resilience and mental strength are what pulled them through."
Junyuan came out with guns blazing and were 5-1 up by the fourth minute, but Farrer Park fought back and levelled at 6-6 with two minutes left in regulation time, with the latter scoring the last point in the last 30 seconds to force extra time at 7-7.
The two sides were neck and neck in the first period of extra time, with Farrer Park again scoring the last point to tie the scores at 11-11 and force another three-minute period.
The defending champions dug deep in the second period to come away 15-12 winners, with captain Nursulizati Suhairat scoring the final goal.
The 11-year-old said: "Junyuan are so tough and I was scared to face them in the finals. I was also nervous during the game because I was scared that we won't be the champions again like last year.
"But, my coach said that it doesn't matter if we win or lose, at least we put in effort in the competition and show that we are ready to fight."
Despite the loss, Junyuan captain Joyce Foo, 12, was still proud of her team.
She said: "I feel proud and sad because we didn't win the first-place trophy. I feel proud because I saw that all my teammates gave their best, scored a lot of points and didn't give up."