THE equation was simple for Scott Balsar and his Illawarra Hawks on Saturday.
Win or your season is over.
Thankfully for the Snakepit-based Hawks, headlined by Shoalhaven's Gavin Costain and Ziad El Tobgy, they kept their 2020 Waratah League finals dream alive by outlasting the Hornsby Ku Ring Gai Spiders 93-84.
The two desperate youth men's division one teams exchanged baskets in the opening term before late scores by Costain and Harry Morris saw the hosts lead by 26-22 at quarter-time.
The second term was all Hawks, with the red and whites outscoring their opponents by 12, to go into half-time up 48-32.
But Balsar's troops couldn't keep the foot on the throat, as the Spiders responded, to get within one point (61-60) with 1.40 to go in the third.
Five straight points by the Hawks to close the period ensured they held a five-point advantage heading into the last.
In the fourth, the Spiders got with four points before the Hawks clicked into gear and ran out winners by nine points.
The victory was set up by double-digit point-scoring efforts by Harry Morris (23), Costain (14), Will Farrar (13), Zachary Ottosson (10), Aaron Puljic (10) and Riley O'Brien (10).
This crucial Basketball NSW win moves the Hawks into sixth with a 5-4 record.
As relieved as they are with this win, next round's game is also must-win, as they travel to Penrith to take on the fifth-place Panthers, who also have a 5-4 record - with just two rounds remaining.