Doubleheader Inaugurates Basketball Court as JESS and BCB Prevail

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The bleachers were full of schoolmates, parents, family and friends for the first tip-off reopening of the refurbished Pine Peace basketball court on Thursday, January 16, and organized basketball is back on St. John. See Story on Page 11.

With the first tip-off on Thursday, January 16, reopening the refurbished Pine Peace basketball courts, organized basketball is back on St. John.

The bleachers were full of schoolmates, parents, family and friends. The electronic Scotiabank scoreboard was in perfect working order. The card-table concession stand was doing a brisk business.

The long, baggy basketball shorts looked even longer and baggier on some of the smaller players but they took to the court with all the intensity of an NBA playoff.

The opening game, Gifft Hill School v. St. Thomas’ Bertha C. Boschulte Jr. High, was a hard-fought game – despite an early run by a BCB team led by a few hot-shooting players.

Gifft Hill School Barracudas Are Steadfast
The smaller GHS team was out-sized but not outmanned as they steadfastly stayed in the game until the end. The final score was 25-4 in favor of BCB.

The Gifft Hill School Barracudas team members are; Aidan Emanuelson, #2; Hunter Simpson, #3; Adam Maccio, #4; Arjuna Morris, #5; James Walgenwitt, #6; Embaye Brathwaite, #7; Kai Sealy #8, Keshaun Connor, #10; Dennis Bigrigg, #11; Shane Lasota, #12; Naheem Modeste, #13; A’Quani Cornwall, #14, and Noah Gessner, #17.

Strong-shooting JESS Defeats Bowsky 12-5

In the second game of the double-header, Julius E. Sprauve School hosted Yvonne Milliner Bowsky Elementary School from St. Thomas. JESS took an early lead with a well organized offense and strong defense and held on to defeat Bowsky 12-5.

JESS had an 11-1 lead at the half in a rapid-paced game, but two late scores by Bowsky put the well-coached St. John team on notice that St. Thomas competition was going to be tough.

The JESS team members are: Shayne Morris, Melvin Burgos, Nekwante Sprauve, David Marsh Jr., Kahleem Powell, Ledwin Flores, Ashuan Hedrington, Kelan Rivieri, Leon Fessale and Lee J. Christian. The team is coached by Firefighter Clarence “Sauce” Stephenson.

The parents and grown ups who filled the shaded bleachers may have had a deeper appreciation of the history-making rededication of the Pine Peace basketball court.

“I remember when it was like this when I was young,” said Nedra Ephraim, an organizer of the renovation of the basketball court with Alice Kraal. “It’s like full circle again.”

“St. John kids can finally have home games,” Ephraim added. “They’re not going to St. Thomas to have a ‘home’ game.”

Adult League Competition Soon Come?
Ephraim, meanwhile, hopes the court, complete with lighting for night games, will promote even more use.

“I’m waiting for adult teams to form for a league,” she said. “It will happen.”

The St. John referees for the games were as involved in instruction as the team coaches bringing organized basketball to younger island players.

“We’re happy to have visitors, some camaraderie,” said referee Ronnie Jones “And they get to make the 6 o’clock boat. It was a complete success.”

Gifft Hill Coached by “Milk” Charles
The Gifft Hill team is coached by Lawrence “Milk” Charles, who has coached various teams for Gifft Hill for three years.

“This is Gifft Hill’s first year to have an elementary boys basketball team,” said GHS Athletic Director Barbie Barry. “We are a young team that is just learning the ‘ropes,’ but we are very proud of all the boys who are participating.”

“We have 14 games scheduled for the season, eight of which will be home games played at the Pine Peace Basketball court,” Barry said.

The remaining home games for Gifft Hill School at the Pine Peace courts are:
Thursday, January 23 vs. EBO @ 4:30 p.m.
Friday, January 24 vs. JESS @ 4:00 p.m.
Monday, January 27 vs. Gomez @ 3:30 p.m.
Friday, January 31 vs. New Testament @ 4:30 p.m.
Tuesday, February 4 vs. Sibilly @ 3:30 p.m.
Friday, February 7 vs. JESS @ 4:00 p.m.
Monday, February 10 vs. Bowsky @ 4:30 p.m.

Although there was no official ceremony at the opening games, it was announced earlier in the week that the court had been officially named in honor of longtime St. John sports organizer Orville “Chopper” Brown.