|Inja Butina came up big for Croatia, leading the home team with 16 points to stave off relegation|
Host nation Croatia signed off their roller-coaster participation at the U18 European Championship Women with a smile after they avoided relegation and sent the Slovak Republic to Division B with a 52-47 win in Vinkovci.
In a nail-biting climax and amidst almost unbearable tension, Croatia found themselves 43-42 behind with three minutes left to play, but then managed to find a higher gear at the perfect time.
After Katerina Matijevic put them in the lead, the deal-breaker came seconds later from Lana Racki who drained an immeasurably important three-pointer to put daylight between the teams.
With a precious five-point lead, they then extended it to seven through a score by center Antonija Chiabov and a free-throw by Inja Butina.
As time expired, the Slovak Republic were left contemplating what might have been, whilst the Croatians celebrated their reprieve.
Butina was again the top performer for the delighted Croatians, producing and all-action 16 points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals.
Chiabov weighed in with a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Nikola Dudasova and Eva Filickova combined for 30 points for the crestfallen Slovakians.