Townsville Fire has one hand on back-to-back WNBL championships after winning game one of the three-game final series over the Perth Lynx.
Opals veteran Suzy Batkovic was crucial with 25 points and eight rebounds as the Fire triumphed 73-57 over the Lynx in a see-sawing encounter in Perth on Saturday night.
Game two will be played on Friday night at the Townsville RSL Stadium, before a potential decider in Perth on Sunday.
The Lynx led by five points at the final change, but only added seven points in the last quarter to Townsville's 28.
Townsville had contributions throughout in the last, with Cayla George (12 rebounds), Cherie Gallagher (eight points) and Micaela Cocks (15 points) stepping up.
Perth's American imports Betnijah Laney (19 points and 14 rebounds) and Sami Whitcomb (20 points, five three-pointers) were their side's best.
Laney notched six points and eight rebounds in the first term, but it was the visitors who jumped out of the blocks.
Fire centre Batkovic was a central figure with 10 first quarter points.
A trio of Lynx three-pointers late in the first leveled the contest at the first break at 18-18.
Whitcomb hit a three which opened up an eight-point buffer for the Lynx in the second term, but the Fire were determined to drag the margin back.
They did that with their own treble of three-pointers, having not scored from outside the arc in the first quarter, to take a four-point lead into the long interval.
Townsville moved eight points clear in the third when Batkovic scored off the glass.
Perth resolutely pulled it back, with California-born Whitcomb's long-range shooting a feature, putting the Lynx in front by five at the final break.
Gallagher made a huge impact off the bench with eight points at the start of the last, forcing another lead change.
But Perth lost their shooting radar in the final term as the more experienced Fire, who have played in the past four grand finals, took charge.
Townsville coach Chris Lucas said his side never panicked and was thrilled with their final quarter defensive effort.
"At three-quarter time, it was pretty calm," Lucas said.
"We were five down but we still felt good about where we were at and what we were trying to do.
"The girls really followed what I was looking for. It was a super effort defensively in the last quarter."
Lynx coach Andy Stewart bemoaned his side's poor final quarter.
"That fourth quarter wasn't us, we just couldn't put anything on the board," Stewart said.
"To score seven points in a fourth quarter of a final, you're going to struggle to win many games."