Gosport’s Lauren Milligan helped England under-16s to a silver medal and their first-ever promotion at the National Basketball Championships in Romania.
The 16-year-old, who went to Bay House School, was one of four Solent Suns representatives in the original 30-strong squad, but only Milligan was chosen to travel to Arad for the tournament.
And she didn’t disappoint as she put in a string of impressive displays.
And while England eventually lost out in a close-run match to Germany in the final, the team’s performances ensured promotion from division B, on top of their silver medals.
Milligan said: ‘It was amazing – an experience I’ll never forget.
‘We’re really pleased to get promotion as it’s the first time the under-16s have played in division A.
‘We lost the final by only three points so it was really close – our target was to get promoted, too, so we achieved what we set out to do.’
Milligan was able to score a free throw against Latvia in the 51-40 semi-final victory, as well as in the 63-50 win against hosts Romania at the quarter-final stage, describing the feeling as ‘unbelievable’.
She said: ‘All that was running through my mind was, “Oh my, goodness, I’ve just scored for England!”
‘It was quite close against Romania so the points were quite important and helped put us in control.’
Milligan’s Suns team-mates, although obviously disappointed not to go to the tournament themselves, were fully supportive of the teenager.
‘They said I’d done the club proud by representing them for England,’ added Milligan, who was the only player from the south to make head coach Karen Burton’s squad.
That was a feat all the more extraordinary given that Milligan was playing a different sport all together while still at school – in the form of netball.
Her father, Charlie, explained: ‘She was originally playing netball down at school before being talent-spotted. That’s when she went on to Bridgemary Solent Suns.
‘Lauren had England trials about two or three years ago in netball but didn’t get in, unfortunately.’
Netball disappointment has now turned to basketball dreams, however, as Lauren is set to start a two-year sports scholarship at Oaklands College, Hertfordshire with a view to one day plying her trade in America.
She said: ‘I move up to Oaklands, then, hopefully, after the two years I can go and play in America.
‘I’m sad to be leaving here, sad to be leaving my friends, but I hope to make new ones while I’m there.
Oaklands provides academic studies alongside its basketball academy and includes the advanced apprenticeship in sporting excellence, which is aimed at athletes who have represented their country and wish to pursue a career in the sport at a performance level.