Virgin Islands high school basketball teams are officially starting the 2019 season with the 26th annual IAA/McDonald’s MLK Jr. Invitational Basketball Tournament. The event will begin on Friday, Jan. 18, in the Ivanna Eudora Kean High School (IEKHS) gymnasium and will conclude on Monday, Jan. 21, with back-to-back playoff games to determine tournament winners.
Adding to the excitement, the 2018 winners, Central High’s boys and IEKHS’s girls’ teams, will be vying to keep their titles.
The competition will be fierce, as teams from St. Thomas and St. Croix battle against visiting teams from the British Virgin Islands. The tournament will host local high school teams from Charlotte Amalie, Antilles, St. Peter and Paul, All Saints and Ivanna Eudora Kean from St. Thomas, as well as Central High, Educational Complex and Free Will Baptist from St. Croix. Visiting teams from the British Virgins Islands are Bregado Flax, Elmore Stoutt and VI Tech. The tournament will feature eleven male teams and three female teams from the territory.
McDonald’s stepped up as the title tournament sponsor for the fifth consecutive year in partnership with the St. Thomas-St. John Interscholastic Athletic Association (IAA). Marisol Vega Couto, managing director for McDonald’s Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, is proud to support the competition.
“We look forward to this event each year. This long-standing event brings the community together in support of our student athletes and healthy sportsmanship. As a family restaurant, McDonald’s supports and encourages participation in youth sports activities.”
McDonald’s is offering an added incentive for the tournament winning teams. In order to purchase equipment and supplies, $2,000 will be given to each of the two winning athletic departments. McDonald’s and the IAA will also be recognizing and rewarding two participating student athletes with the highest academic scores.
Mark Daniel, IAA president for the U.S. Virgin Islands, said, “We appreciate the continued partnership with McDonald’s for this annual tournament. Without the support from businesses like McDonald’s we would not have the funds to put on a multi-island tournament of this caliber. It is important for our student athletes have an opportunity to put their skills to the test to launch their basketball seasons and garner the attention of university talent scouts to advance their academic and athletic futures.”
IAA/McDonald’s Martin Luther King Jr. Invitational Basketball Tournament games will start at 5 p.m., Friday evening, Jan. 18 and will continue daily from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. throughout the weekend with championship games scheduled for 10 a.m., Monday, Jan. 21, for the girls’ game, with the boys’ game to follow. All games will be held at IEKHS gymnasium.
For more information, contact Basketball Commissioner Kenny Todman at 642-2156.