The players on court dug deep, but Coolamon coach Claudia Barton has credited the Hoppers' 'eighth man' for dragging them over the line in a pulsating one-goal elimination final win over Wagga Tigers on Sunday.
Despite finishing lower on the Riverina League ladder than the Tigers, who were aiming for a fourth straight flag, a scheduling quirk handed Coolamon home court advantage and the crowd support paid dividends in a 37-36 come-from-behind victory.
Down by eight goals at one point in the final quarter the Hoppers, who haven't won a premiership since 2001 fed off the sea of green courtside at Kindra Park to book a preliminary final date with Collingullie-Glenfield Park.
Ironically, Barton said her side was guilty of being "distracted" by the spectators in the first half of their week one finals win over Griffith, before overpowering the Swans in the second half.
"It was amazing, it was the atmosphere that got us over the line," Barton said.
"It was definitely one of a kind and you can feel how the small towns get behind local sport.
"We knew they were going to be tough but it was an advantage playing on our home court. We train on that court and know what it's like, the shooter know the rings a bit better, it helps."
Barton is in her first season coaching the side after shifting from Northern Jets and said they have generated some belief by beating top three teams during the regular season.
"I did have confidence in the girls because we've shown we can beat the better teams, but we're just not con
sistent which I thought we might struggle with," she said
"We had a moment where we lapsed but we came back, and I'm honestly gobsmacked we did."
The winner of the preliminary final will take on Mangoplah-Cookardinia United-Eastlakes in the decider.