REIGNING champions Illawarra gave sisters Katherine and Liisa Ups a perfect parting gift with Saturday's 56-53 triumph over Hills at the Snakepit.
The win was the Kittyhawks' first over the Hornets in two years and lifted them into a share of second place.
It was the Ups twins' last game for Illawarra before heading to New York to take up basketball scholarships with the University of Buffalo.
They were instrumental in the victory, combining for 18 points, 18 rebounds and seven assists.
"It was a fitting ending for the twins. They both played very well and it's going to be tough without them," Kittyhawks coach Cheryl Lowe said.
Illawarra built a 34-23 half-time lead but were out-scored 19-9 in the third quarter.
They regrouped in the final period and held on.
"It was a team effort. Everyone played well," Lowe said.
"We always seem to have a bad third quarter and we talked about that at half-time. Hills upped their defence and we just had to weather the storm and get back on top in the fourth. You have to be able to win the close ones.
"They were the only team we didn't beat last year so it was good to have a win, especially when they have two WNBL players. They're a big team and they're probably the roughest, toughest team in the league."
The Kittyhawks (9-3) host fourth-placed Hornsby (8-4) on Saturday.
"We have to win that game to cement third spot and get a playoff game at home," Lowe said.
Illawarra suffered another loss in the WBL men's competition, going down 113-110 to Hills in overtime.
Free throw shooting was the big difference. The Hawks hit 19/30 (63 per cent) while the Hornets made 23/26 (88 per cent).
Dominique Cooks top-scored for Illawarra with 31 points and Luke Jamieson finished with 20.