Daily News Staff

The St. Croix high school basketball championship came down to one game, a winner-take-all affair between longtime rivals.

And what a game it was.

Host Educational Complex won back the St. Croix Interscholastic Athletic Association against Central High School on Friday in a dramatic 73-70 double-overtime win.

“Today’s game was one for the record books,” Complex coach Dean Heywood said. “In my 20 years at Complex, this was the best basketball game I’ve seen in high school. Both teams brought their ‘A’ games for the final deciding game. If both teams could be champion in today’s game it would have been nice.”

But that was not to be, as Carlos Rosa Jr. stepped up late by knocking down some free throws in the second extra session to put the game away.

“Man, I’ve got one that’s going to really hurt for a long time,” Central coach Keith Swanston said.

The Barracudas, who won the title two years ago only to have Central win last year, trailed, 24-21, at halftime. However, Complex would take a 36-35 lead into the fourth quarter, as Gyrez Gaspard scored eight of his 10 points in the third. Rosa scored seven points in the fourth to help force overtime.

“Both teams made big shots and plays for their team,” Heywood said. “This was March Madness in St. Croix high school basketball and we came out victorious.”

Rosa scored a game-high 21 points and Jeremy Coker added 11 for Complex. Mecaiel Thomas led Central with 20 points, Zion Jones and Rahkeem Swanston added 13 points apiece.

“Congrats to coach Keith Swanston and the Caribs’ staff for putting up a miraculous fight, but it could only be one winner,” Heywood said. “The bench for both teams was the deciding factor in the game and we were better.”

Coach Swanston said his team will graduate five seniors, including starter D’Quane Camacho.

“We’re a young team, and we’ll be back next year,” he said.

In the St. Thomas-St. John district, the Gifft Hill School boys topped V.I. Montessori School and Peter Gruber International Academy, 27-24, in the season finale for both teams.

Ty Massaquoi scored nine points for GHS, and Eyad Hamed had seven for the host Volts.

“Credit to Gifft Hill for coming in and doing what they needed to do to get the victory,” VIMSIA coach Matt Stocking said.

“We fought hard and I’m proud of our overall progress we made this season.”