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Charlotte Amalie
Saturday, July 13, 2024


CHRIST CHURCH, Barbados – Jamaica, which has a coach with Virgin Islands roots, held off a fierce Virgin Islands comeback to claim a 69-60 victory Tuesday in the women's division of the Caricom Basketball Championships.
The Virgin Islands, 1-2, fought back from a 24-point deficit to cut the lead to 59-54 with 1 minute, 35 seconds remaining in the game. Jamaica outscored the Virgin Islands 10-6 to end the contest.
"It was a grand effort on their part but we should have never put ourselves in that hole in the first place," said V.I. coach Albert Hazard, who said defensive breakdowns in the end prevented the team from completing the comeback.
Hazard said the Virgin Islands squad, which beat Guyana 77-70 Monday night, did not come to play with the same intensity it did on Monday. On the other hand, Jamaica, 2-1, was determined to avenge a Monday night loss to host Barbados. In Jamaica's 59-50 loss to Barbados, Jamaica committed 30 turnovers and coach Rerita Esannason said she was determined to get her squad to make a positive start against the Virgin Islands.
"We were focused on what we were doing," said Esannason, who has family in the Virgin Islands. Esannason said her father was born on St. Croix and she plans to attend a family reunion in the territory later this summer.
In addition to redeeming itself on the court, the Jamaica team was playing inspired after learning country hero Merlene Ottey had been cleared to run in the 2000 Olympics. The International Amateur Athletic Federation on Monday lifted the two-year ban on the Jamaica sprinter. Ottey, a 200-meter world champion, is a track icon in Jamaica and throughout the Caribbean.
Esannason said she first learned of the lifted ban on Tuesday morning. The Jamaica basketball team responded by building a 34-23 halftime lead and stretched the advantage to 51-27 with 9 minutes remaining.
At the point, the Virgin Islands, sparked by D'Mour King and Natasha Lettsome, went on a 27-8 run.
King, a Dillard University guard, had six points in the rally and forced several turnovers. Lettsome, who finished with a team-high 16 points, had 10 points in the rally. Tajama Abraham, a former Atlantic 10 Player of the Year at George Washington University, scored 13 of her 15 points in the first half.
The Virgin Islands will play host Barbados on Wednesday, before finishing the preliminary round against the Bahamas on Thursday. The top four teams will earn a spot in the medal round. The championship game is scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday at the Wildey Gym in the Sir Garfield Sobers Sports Complex. Six teams are entered in the women's division.

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