The Falcons did not have to win the CIAA Tournament for it to be a rewarding experience. Several players said the tournament, which was held Feb. 27-March 3 in Charlotte, was worthwhile even though neither the Falcons’ men or women’s team came home with a trophy.
“I think the tournament is an amazing experience that I will never forget and I will always miss,” said Quincy January. The senior forward from Atlanta was named to the all-tournament team, finishing his stellar college career with more than 1,500 points and 1,000 rebounds.
But January said the event was rewarding beyond any individual achievements. “It has been a blessing to be part of the tournament all four years…They offer great hospitality and a great competitive atmosphere,” he said.
The tournament also marked the end of Kenneth Collins’ college career. The senior shooting guard, who transferred to Saint Augustine’s from Wake Technical Community College, ended his final season with a respectable 8.9 point scoring average, third highest on the team.
“The CIAA Tournament was a great experience…I’ll never forget playing for Saint Augustine’s University,” Collins said. “In the few years I was here, I loved the team and the school.”
Both the men and women put up a respectable performance at the tournament. The men advanced to the second round and nearly pulled out a win over Virginia State University, losing 49-45. The Lady Falcons gave Chowan University a major scare in the first-round but were outscored 16-8 down the stretch, losing 75-70.
In the end, Virginia Union University won both the men’s and women’s bracket, becoming the fifth school since 1975 and the first since 2011 to take home both championships.
But the tournament was about a lot more than basketball. There was also Super Saturday and FanFest, where cheerleaders from each school put on an exhibition, and HBCU queens are officially crowned. Also there are many events are held at restaurants and clubs in the downtown area, where celebrities perform. And many entertainers and celebrities are seen in attendance at the games or at parties.
Among the celebrities at this year’s tournament were Cardi B, Bell Biv Devoe, Doug E. Fresh and Lil Wayne, as well as former NFL star Michael Vick, several reality TV stars and even Instagram models.
Kasey Bryant, a point guard and another Wake Tech transfer who played in his last game at the tournament, called it a great experience adding “From the banquet to the tournament games and they party…It’s am amazing experience I will never forget.”
Denarius Guy, among the SAU students who made the trip to Charlotte, said he had a blast: “Being at the CIAA – you just have to experience it for yourself. You can’t explain it.”
This article was based on reporting by Quante Williams, Kiana Clark, Timbrell Cunningham, Brandon Gray, Breana Gambrell.