HOOP stars from an Ellesmere Port school powered to a hat-trick of European titles at an international tournament in Spain.
The squad of pupils from the Catholic High overcame competition from 60 clubs to secure three titles and two fourth-place finishes at the Eurobasket Championships in Cloves de Mar, Spain.
'I'm really pleased,' said the Capenhurst Lane school's head of PE Mike Burton (pictured). 'We were the only school competing and the rest were club teams. It was a really tough competition.'
The three winning teams for Catholic High were in the youngest age group for the mixed 'red' team and the intermediate boys and girls sides.
'In the whole competition there were three pools of six teams and one with five. Every team played each other once and the top two teams from their respective group played in the final,' added Burton.
The school's red team were first to triumph after John Gould (58 points) inspired them to a 73-50 victory over Estonian outfit KK Hito in the final, while the intermediate girls team followed it up by beating Trieste of Italy 79-53, courtesy of some top point-scoring by England internationals Kristie Shiels (29), Alleaua Reddy (17) and Ami Bowen (13).
The intermediate boys completed the triple triumph with a 57-31 win over Estonian side Team Johvi, with Josh Mc-Quinn (21) and James Banks (16) in impressive form.
Burton was proud of the quality and determination of the youngsters from the school and singled out Year 8 pupil Gould for special praise.
He said: 'In all my 34 years of teaching I haven't seen a performance like that from a Year 8 lad. To score 58 points in a final was phenomenal. John was outstanding.'
Catholic High's senior boys finished fourth overall after losing 58-67 in their third/fourth place play-off with Virtus Civitanova of Italy, while the Blue team finished in fourth place after losing 62-54 in the play-off to CB Llovet of Spain.
Although Burton plans to retire as head of boys PE at Catholic High next year, he is still hopeful of returning to the tournament next summer.
He said: 'I'm retiring next year but I am hoping to carry on teaching basketball at the school and go to the tournament next year.'