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Charlotte Amalie
Sunday, July 21, 2024


SAN GERMAN, Puerto Rico — The Virgin Islands men's basketball team, refusing to go into the championship game on a losing note, cruised to a 90-67 victory over Colombia on Thursday in the team's final preliminary-round contest at the Central America and Caribbean University Games.
All 10 players on the V.I. roster scored three points or more, with Johnson Isidore coming away with 23 points as the Virgin Islands enjoyed double-digit leads since taking a 27-16 advantage midway through the first half.
The Virgin Islands finished preliminary play with a 4-1 record and will face host Puerto Rico for the championship at 5 p.m. Saturday on the Inter American University campus. Puerto Rico, which played the Dominican Republic on Thursday night, is the only team to beat the Virgin Islands.
"We can beat Puerto Rico," said V.I. Coach Jose Paris, who is from Puerto Rico. "The big thing is once again the Virgin Islands made the final. Now, people from other countries know the Virgin Islands is a team to contend with."
The Virgin Islands senior basketball team finished second to Barbados at the Caricom Basketball Championships in July. At the Caribbean championships, the Virgin Islands was undefeated until losing in the final.
Against Colombia on Thursday, the Virgin Islands was never threatened. St. Croix's Carlos Hawkins, who recently finished high school in Delaware, scored two free throws to give the V.I. a 27-16 lead with 10:10 remaining in the half. The Virgin Islands took a 50-37 lead into halftime and stretched the lead to 61-41 after Tyrone Allick's layup with 14 minutes to play.
From that point, the young V.I. team that includes two recent high school graduates — Hawkins and Cuthbert Victor — rolled to victory.
Victor, the Murray State signee and the reigning St. Croix high school athlete of the year, played only 16 minutes. In that short span, he scored 14 points, grabbed six rebounds, made two steals and rejected two shots.
Isidore scored 12 points in the first half and added 11 after intermission as the Virgin Islands won for the fourth straight time.
Kevin Sheppard, a Jacksonville State guard, had 11 points and St. Thomas' Leroy Gore of the University of Miami scored all 10 of his points in the first half.
Holman Amoya paced Colombia with 28 points including 24 in the first half. Colombia finished the tournament 1-4 and lost to both finalists – Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
Colombia guard Carlos Jimenez predicts the Virgin Islands will beat Puerto Rico in the title game.
"The Virgin Islands," Jimenez said when asked which team would win. "They have three players who are very quick. They are a lot quicker than Puerto Rico."
Jimenez scored 15 points Thursday against the Virgin Islands.
While the Virgin Islands men's basketball team will play for the gold, the women's squad will have to settle for the bronze medal at best. The injury-riddled Virgin Islands will play Colombia for third place on Saturday.
Basketball is the Virgin Islands' only hope of winning a medal at the Games, which brings together the top college athletes from countries throughout the region.
Steve Jones, the Virgin Islands' lone track runner at the games, pulled from the 200-meter finals after injuring a groin muscle. Jones finished seventh in the 100 meters.

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