Working together as a team, on and off the court, has turned the Paeroa College senior boys' basketball team into local heroes.
Paeroa Police watchhouse officer Kelly Ross said the nine boys are being hailed as heroes and have been praised for their actions which potentially saved lives.
The drama took place on March 12 when the boys began a rescue attempt of two women and a dog in difficulty in the Ohinemuri River just behind McDonald's.
Braden Hodgson, 17, said he was walking home from basketball practice when a woman called him for help as there were two women and a dog in the river.
"I called out to Tipene and we started looking for the lady then Regan and Finn came along and they came and helped and pretty soon we were all there," he said.
The boys formed a chain down the steep bank and, after rescuing the dog, started to pull a woman, who had been struggling to reach the bank, out.
Tipene Morunga, 17, said they did not know there were two women in difficulty at that stage.
"We were ready to jump in but a police lady came along and told us not to," he said.
The Paeroa Volunteer Fire Brigade had by this time arrived and managed to get the other woman to safety.
Mrs Ross said the boys were presented with certificates at their school assembly.
"We just really wanted to show our appreciation to these boys as the story could have been a very different one without their help," she said.
The boys, who are playing their first season as a team, said it had been an exciting end to the day.