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U.S. Virgin Islands Sailor Ian Barrows Clinches Gold at the 2023 PanAm Games

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The 2023 PanAm Games have witnessed a triumph for the U.S. Virgin Islands as St. Thomas’s very own Ian Barrows has claimed gold in the men’s skiff 49er sailing event, representing Team USA.

In a stunning display of skill and teamwork, Barrows, alongside his teammate Hans Henken, soared to victory in the medal race on Friday. Their consistent performance culminated in a first-place overall finish, with a net score of 26 points, edging out the Uruguayan team by a margin of eight points.

While Barrows and Henken reveled in their victory, fellow competitors from the Virgin Islands, Taylor Fairbanks Hasson and Steven Christian Hardee, faced challenges, concluding the event in eighth place with a total of 84 net points.

The journey to the podium was a testament to Barrows and Henken’s dedication, as they secured a top-three spot in almost every race. Barrows, sharing his joy, acknowledged the intense preparation leading to this moment. “Winning gold feels amazing,” he stated, reflecting on the rigorous competition and his successful endeavor at the games.

In another event, Virgin Islander Michelle Smith narrowly missed the podium in the women’s 400-meter hurdles. Initially placed fourth, a penalty to the race’s winner suggested a possible bronze for Smith, but the decision was later overturned, maintaining Smith’s original position.

Looking ahead, the outstanding performance of the Henken-Barrows duo has favorably positioned them for the 2024 Paris Olympics. As they gear up for the global stage, they carry with them the pride and support of the Virgin Islands community, eager to cheer on their local hero.

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Sun Devils Triumph in Paradise Jam Women’s Final Against High Point

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The Sun Devil women’s basketball team concluded their Paradise Jam journey with a gripping 77-69 victory over High Point, in a Saturday showdown at the UVI Sports & Fitness Center, St. Thomas.

Key player Jalyn Brown spearheaded the win with a personal best of 20 points, while Treasure Hunt was close to a double-double, amassing 19 points and eight rebounds, the highest in the game.

Teamwork was paramount for the Sun Devils, as Trayanna Crisp chipped in with 12 points and a match-leading four assists. Journey Thompson contributed significantly with 11 points, sharing the team’s top rebounding spot with Hunt. Jaddan Simmons completed the Sun Devils’ formidable lineup (6-2 record) with nine points, six rebounds, and three assists.

ASU’s 50 percent field shooting marked a milestone, echoing a similar achievement from their December 18, 2021, victory in San Diego.

ASU set a commanding tone early, leading by up to 12 points in the first quarter. Despite consistent pressure from the Panthers (3-4), led by Anna Hager’s 16 points and six rebounds, ASU managed to maintain their lead. In the final quarter, High Point narrowed the deficit to three points, but ASU countered effectively with pivotal scores from Brown and Hunt, including two rapid 3-pointers from Hunt.

The Panthers kept the pressure up, reducing the gap to five points. However, Crisp secured the Sun Devils’ victory with eight decisive points in the final quarter, including four consecutive points in the closing minutes, preventing High Point from bridging the gap.

ASU started the game with focus and efficiency, hitting 50 percent of their shots in the first period. Brown and Hunt combined for 15 points, shooting at an impressive 60 percent. Sandra Magolico also contributed with four points and five rebounds, while Simmons led ASU with four rebounds in the quarter.

Initially, both teams were evenly matched, but ASU surged ahead with the last 10 points of the quarter, ending it 23-11. High Point rallied in the second quarter, outscoring ASU 24-16, but ASU held the lead at halftime, 39-35.

The match’s intense rhythm and relentless efforts from both teams culminated in a thrilling finale, with ASU’s early lead and sustained performance clinching their victory in the Paradise Jam final.

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Michelle Smith Commits to University of Georgia, Signing National Letter of Intent

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In a significant move for a top-tier USVI young athlete, Michelle Smith, who serves as a USVI Sports Ambassador, has officially committed to the University of Georgia. This commitment was formalized on Tuesday when she signed the National Letter of Intent.

Governor Albert Bryan Jr.’s Chief of Staff, Karl Knight, heralded this moment, showcasing Ms. Smith’s impressive track record. Her accolades include two CARIFTA gold medals, a double gold and one silver at the NACAC Under 18 games, and a silver medal in the PanAmerican Under 20 championships. Knight placed Smith in the distinguished lineage of Virgin Islands track legends like Eddie Lovett, Eduardo Garcia, Laverne Jones, Flora Hyacinth, Mohammed Hakeem, Brian Morissette, and Neville Hodge.

Calvert White, Commissioner of the Department of Sports, Parks, and Recreation, extended his heartfelt congratulations to Ms. Smith. His continued engagement with her development was evident as he discussed regular updates with her father and his attendance at her events, signifying his deep support for her athletic journey.

In her remarks, Ms. Smith shared her affinity for the University of Georgia, likening the campus to her home in the USVI with its lush scenery. She spoke highly of the welcoming nature of the university’s coaches, embracing her into their community with open arms.

The signing event was a family affair. Ms. Smith was joined by her father and coach, Keith Smith, her sister Mikaela Smith, and her mother Mireille Smith at the Government House for this pivotal announcement.

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Missouri State Emerges Victorious in Paradise Jam Showdown

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In an exhilarating finale at the University of the Virgin Islands in St. Thomas, the Missouri State Bears clinched the 2023 Paradise Jam championship with a decisive 87-68 win over Abilene Christian on Monday night.

Leading the charge for the Bears was Alston Mason, who dazzled with a commanding 21-point performance, playing a pivotal role in their triumph.

The contest kicked off with Abilene Christian setting an aggressive tone, swiftly amassing a 10-point lead (19-9) within the initial five minutes. They maintained this edge until around the 9:49 mark, boasting a 30-20 lead. However, the Bears gradually began to turn the tide, narrowing the deficit to a mere point (33-32) with 6:48 remaining in the first half. A critical moment came when Missouri State leveled the score with a free throw and then surged ahead with a 3-pointer by Chance Moore. By halftime, the Bears had not only overcome the deficit but had also established an eight-point advantage (45-37), outscoring their opponents 17-4 in the closing 7:45 of the first half.

The second half saw Abilene Christian valiantly attempt a comeback, shrinking Missouri State’s lead to just one point (55-54) with 13:53 left in the match. Nonetheless, the Bears exhibited remarkable resilience, outperforming ACU 12-6 in the following minutes, marked by flawless execution on the floor (3-of-3) and at the free-throw line (4-for-4), thereby extending their lead to 67-58. Missouri State continued its dominant performance, eventually securing a comfortable double-digit lead and the championship.

Missouri State’s Matthew Lee and Donovan Clay earned spots on the all-tournament team, joining the ranks of Abilene Christian’s Ali Abdou Dibba and Hunter Jack Madden, Kent State’s Chris Payton Jr., and San Jose State’s Myron Amey. This impressive victory establishes Missouri State as the second consecutive Missouri Valley Conference team to clinch the Paradise Jam title, a distinction previously held by Drake in 2022.

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