A GROUP of talented schoolchildren have lifted a national trophy – at the first opportunity.

North Berwick High School (pictured, by Ian Steele Photography) clinched the Netball Scotland Scottish Schools Cup S1 Gold title after victory over a Peebles side who have regularly reached the finals over the last decade.

The nationwide competition is available to all affiliated secondary schools in the country, with almost 300 taking part this year.

Sally Hetherington, North Berwick High School coach, praised the girls, who are all aged between 12 and 13, after they lifted the trophy at Ravenscraig Sports Centre, near Wishaw, recently (see picture Ian Steele Photography).

She said: “These S1 girls are super talented, skilled, very fit young athletes and deserve recognition for their hard work and dedication. They are a wonderful team and we look forward to many more years in this schools competition.”

North Berwick, who overcame Berwickshire High School 40-1 and Edinburgh Academy 48-0 in the regional section, were given a bye to the quarter-finals.

Victories over Ayr’s Kyle Academy 33-9 and St Ninians, of Glasgow, 22-8 set up the clash with Peebles, where the girls faced their biggest task.

And they had to come from behind to snatch victory in a dramatic last quarter.

Peebles established an early lead, taking the first quarter 5-1. However, North Berwick slowly clawed their way back into the tie and trailed 9-6 at the halfway stage and 12-10 with one quarter left to play.

Sally said: “Then they turned it on in the third and eased the gap to 12-10 – realising that this final was not lost, all the coaches needed to do at the quarter time chat was make them believe in themselves again.

“The lights came on for North Berwick, the nerves vanished and a stronger North Berwick side came out in the final quarter, knocking Peebles’ confidence and forcing them into panic play.

“The NB side held it together for the whole quarter and won, scoring six goals on the bounce and winning with a score of 16-13.”

It was the first time that North Berwick High School had put a team into the competition.

Sally added: “There has long been a small presence at the high school for netball, with Karen [Wightman] being the only coach.

“Since the Bass Rocketeers Netball Club started we have seen a huge rise in the interest and attendance of girls coming to play this great team sport.

“The club joined with active schools and now offers free sessions from P6 to S4 and hopes to be putting in at least three teams into this cup next year.”

Team: Sophie Hetherington, Lois Turnball, Dido Knoben, Grace Tremlett (captain), Annabelle Conroy, Keira Maynard (vice-captain), Ellen Maslin, Zoe Gormley, Bethan Ryan and Camille Charles.

North Berwick High School coaches: Sally Hetherington and Karen Wightman. Bass Rocketeers head coach: Mary Ann Cosgrove.

For more information on the club, go to www.the bassrocketeersnetballclub.com