Pride and a sense of team spirit underpinned a tournament-winning performance as a Newcastle primary school bagged basketball glory.
Pupils from St Teresa’s Catholic Primary School topped a bumper 25-team field to clinch the 2022 Newcastle Hoops 4 Health crown.
And the Heaton-based kids won the hearts of thousands of fans after flying to victory at a packed Vertu Motors Arena.
“The pupils were so proud of themselves when they got through the semi-finals,” explained St Teresa’s Kathryn MacKenzie.
“But when they won the final they were ecstatic. It was such a great experience for them to play on a professional court in front of their families and a full crowd and the atmosphere was superb.
“It gave them a great sense of achievement.
“For all our children it was an invaluable experience and one they’ll remember forever.
“We knew we had a great team with some excellent players and some of them play for basketball teams outside of school.
“But it was clear on the day of the qualifying tournament that the standard of players from all the schools was exceptionally high.
“Once the pupils got past that stage everyone at school got right behind them and the sense of team spirit was amazing.”
St Teresa’s defeated St Alban’s in the last four to earn their place in the final against Gosforth Central Middle.
And as Newcastle’s top two schools chased Hoops4Health success, a tense final proved too close to call.
A thrilling clash was tied at 2-2 heading down the stretch before a late winner landed the title for St Teresa’s.
Pupils from all four semi-finalists were awarded medals by representatives of Northumbrian Water.
And Ross Smith, Partnerships Manager at Northumbrian Water, said: “The Newcastle Hoops4Health tournament is always a brilliant occasion.
“We’re proud to support it through our Powered By Water programme which teaches youngsters the importance of hydration.
“It was a great privilege to be involved on the night and we’d like to say a huge congratulations to all the schools and players who made it to the semi-finals.
“Once again the Eagles staged a fantastic event.”
Ten schools from across Tyneside entered this year’s Newcastle Hoops4Health competition with many fielding multiple teams.
The qualifying tournament took place at the Vertu Motors Arena and it was St Teresa’s, Gosforth Central Middle, Walker’s St Alban’s Catholic Primary School and Gosforth East Middle who progressed to the final four.
The four teams returned to Newcastle Eagles’ home court on a BBL match night as the hosts entertained Surrey Scorchers.
And the final took place in front of thousands of fans during a noisy half-time break.
“Hoops4Health is a really well organised programme which helps to teach the children about leading a healthy lifestyle as well as engaging in different sports,” added Kathryn.
“The pupils are always really excited when they know the Eagles coaches and players are coming in to deliver the roadshow and the sessions cover a range of healthy living aspects. “The pupils know they’re talking to professional players and it provides them with aspirations and goals for the future.
“The tournament is an excellent way to engage all pupils — the whole class is able to take part in competitive games.
“Hoops4Health provides excellent opportunities to promote sporting values such as team-work, encouragement, determination and resilience.”
Hoops4Health engages thousands of school children across the North East every year and encourages them to eat healthily and live well.
Members of Newcastle Eagles’ BBL men’s and WBBL women’s teams visit local schools as the familiar faces of the programme’s hugely popular roadshows.
And schools are encouraged to enter teams into the regional Hoops4Health mixed basketball tournaments with an overall Champion of Champions event taking place each year.