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Tuesday, May 28, 2024
HomeNewsArchivesCentral High Gym Named in Honor of V.I. Hoops Star

Central High Gym Named in Honor of V.I. Hoops Star

"Ranche" addresses the crowd during the ceremony.On Friday night, the St. Croix Central High School gymnasium was officially renamed the Ronald Alexander “RonChe” Charles Arena in honor of arguably the greatest high school basketball player the U.S. Virgin Islands have ever seen.
Charles and his Central High Caribs dominated high school basketball in the territory in the mid-70s and were undefeated in his final season. Charles went on to attend Michigan State and play alongside Earvin “Magic” Johnson when they defeated Larry Bird and Indiana State for the 1979 NCAA championship.
The ceremony took place midway through the four games scheduled on the opening night of the 18th annual Central High Basketball Tournament.
After brief remarks by Charles’ former CHS principal Rupert Ross and a host of senators and V.I. dignitaries, Charles was introduced by Sen. Usie Richards to a standing ovation from the sparse crowd.
In his remarks, former Sen. Adelbert Bryan—whose sponsored legislation to have the gymnasium renamed in honor of Charles was passed in 1996—asked the question of why it took 31 years to recognize the great Crucian hoops star.
Ross let everyone to know that Charles was a member of his first graduating class as principal of CHS and that he also remembered when "RonChe" used to have to sit on the bench while playing for the Grove Place Pushers. That he honed his skills and waited his turn, built Charles’ character along the way, Ross said.
During his remarks, Charles spoke mostly to the students, reliving his days playing basketball across St. Croix in various neighborhoods—without the threat of violence. “When playing in open leagues back then, it was more about fun—not fighting because you’re in somebody’s turf. We use to be able to come to school after games and tease each other about how many points we scored on each other in the game. We were competing friends in the league, friends in school, and we are still friends today. I hope we can get back to that,” he said.
Before closing, Charles stressed the value of hard work and education. He said that he had to sit on many a bench during his early days playing basketball, but it made him work that much harder to get on the court. But he also said he had to work hard in school, and that his grades along with his basketball ability earned him a full four-year scholarship to Michigan State University.
Charles, a 1980 graduate of MSU, was drafted by the Chicago Bulls but did not make the team. However, he went on to play professionally around the world until 1988, when a serious ankle injury ended his career.
After the dedication ceremony, the Caribs girls and boys varsity teams both saw action. The Lady Caribs went up against the Lady Chicken Hawks from Charlotte Amalie High School, and the boys took on the Country Day Tigers.
In the Boys game, the Caribs got a game-high 21 points from Javier Martinez as they cruised to a blowout victory over Country Day, 72-45. The Caribs, who led by as many as 30 points, called off the dogs in the third, and their bench then played the entire fourth quarter. After a 13-11 first quarter, the home team turned up its defensive intensity in the second and the rout was on.
A 20-7 second period and a 19-6 third sealed the deal. The Caribs also got 12 points from Amadris Derweer and eight from Taron Jones. The Tigers were led by Charles Sealey, who netted 12 points, and Aaron Seifer, who dropped in nine.
In the girls game, the Lady Hawks pulled away late for a 55-44 victory. The Hawks’ size seemed to wear down the lady Caribs in the fourth and they were in total control of the boards on both ends of the court in the final period. The winners were led by Amaria Williams with 14 points, while Kelssy Trass netted 10 and Shyla Kelly scored nine. For the lady Caribs, Jayda Edwards netted a game-high 16 points, and Lanese Bough finished with eight.

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