From left to right: Natasha Gamble, Shakita Epps and Jasmine Baker (Photo: Michaela Duckett for

Looking good

CIAA week may be about basketball, but for some, it’s more about fashion and looking good (or at least attempting to).

From left to right: Nadia Funderburke, Tia Applewhite and Jasmine McCoy. (Photo: Michaela L. Duckett for

We caught up with Jasmine Baker, who traveled to Charlotte from Raleigh. She said being on your “A-game” is a must when you attend CIAA.

“Otherwise, it’s very hard to stand out or look good out here,” she said. “There could be somebody that looks 20 times better. Fashion is important.”

When Baker chose to wear her striped BeBe dress on Saturday, she said she wanted to pick out something comfortable that everybody else would not be wearing.

We also found Nadia Funderburke, who traveled to the Qcity from Durham with friends, Tia Applewhite and Jasmine McCoy. She agrees that looking good is important.

“You are going to be around all of these different people from all different places,” she said. “You just want to look your best and present yourself as the best ‘you’ that you can.”

Funderburke said initially she did not plan on attending CIAA, so her outfit was just something she “pulled out the closet” at the last minute.

Applewhite said she didn’t go out of her way to look good simply for CIAA.

“It’s just something I do all of the time,” she said. “I was just myself.”

McCoy said she would have looked good not matter what outfit she put on.

“I feel like my face says it all,” she said.

Some of the guys we spoke with also said they wanted to look their best this weekend.

“Of course, I want to look good,” said Guy Fisher, who traveled to CIAA from Connecticut for vacation.

But most importantly, Fisher said, it was important to him to be comfortable and dressed for the weather (which was quite unpredictable).

~ By Michaela L. Duckett

Nikki Massey (R) with her friend Lateesha Henderson. (Photo: Michaela L. Duckett for

Off the beaten path

While thousands of out-of-towners stood shoulder-to-shoulder in smoldering body heat at one of the many day parties Saturday, traveled off the beaten path to hang with the locals, who were chowing down on fried chicken with waffles, macaroni and cheese, wings and fried pickles and sipping on stout drinks at McBonie’s Southern Food Bar & Grill (4800 Monroe Rd.)

“A lot of those people uptown are here from out of town, so they don’t know about this place,” said Nikki Massey, a Charlotte native. “I come here all the time.”

Massey and a friend escaped to the neighborhood bar and grill because they wanted to avoid the crowds uptown. They had considered attending a day party in Center City but decided they didn’t want to deal with the madness.

“The lines were all wrapped around the corner,” she said. “It was just back to back people. It was so much traffic. Maybe if I was 20 [years old] that would fine, but as you get older, you don’t want to stand around in a long line.”

Massey just doesn’t think it’s worth the hassle, at least not for a daytime event, which she believes should be more laid back and relaxed.

“During the daytime, you don’t want to stand in line for a day party,” she said. “But tonight, it would be fine if I have to stand in a line if I’m uptown. Everybody is going to be uptown tonight.”

~ By Michaela L. Duckett

Loraine Cardoza (l) and Ny Hunter at the EpiCentre. (Photo: Michaela Duckett for

Fellas, step up your game

It seems that quite a few guys were out prowling this weekend, looking to hook up. We caught up with a couple of sisters who said that if a man hopes to stand a chance, he must understand a thing or two about how to approach a lady.

For starters, if a woman says she’s married or already has a man, move on.

“I’m married. I let them know, and I keep it moving,” said Ny Hunter. “But they don’t seem to care.”

Hunter observed, also, that men continue to approach women with the same tired lines, such as: “Have you been here before?” or “I’m new and don’t know what to do. What are you doing tonight?”

“I’m not a tour guide,” she said.

Hunter was with her friend, Loraine Cardoza, who was attending CIAA for the first time. Cardoza said a lot of the fellas need to step up their game.

“Dress better,” she said. “We don’t do thugs. They got their pants draping off their behinds with sneakers and a hat. Be presentable. Approach a lady as a man, not some young boy.”

Hunter offered this advice:

“Look at who you are trying to talk to. You can tell class from something else. You can tell a lady from a girl. There are girls out here looking the part to be picked up… Just know the difference and approach accordingly.”

QUESTION: Ladies, do you have additional advice on how a man should approach a woman?

~ By Michaela L. Duckett

From left to right: Kelsi Mahoney, Jakeyah McNeal and Stephanie Watts, all 14 years old (Photo: Michaela L. Duckett for

Teens with big hoop dreams

It is estimated that the CIAA tournament generates more than $35 million for the local economy each year it is held in Charlotte. We caught up with a group of 14 year olds who hope that a portion of those funds will go towards helping them achieve their hoop dreams.

Members of the Charlotte Rivals, a non-profit AAU-affiliated basketball team based in Indian Trail, are canvasing uptown Charlotte this weekend asking for donations.

“Whether it’s just dimes or pennies, every little bit counts,” said Jakeyah McNeal. “It all adds up after a while, and it really helps us.”

The players say the money will go toward paying their registration fees and expenses as they travel to compete in tournaments across the nation. The goal, they say, is to get in playtime in front of more college coaches with the hopes of landing an athletic scholarship.

McNeal said her goal is to play her way into the WNBA.

“I really look to Candice Parker for inspiration,” she said. “I like watching her. I feel like I can do the same thing. She was my age at one point, and was probably out here just like me raising money to do the same things we are doing.”

So if you see these girls, consider dropping a little something into their bucket. Visit for more information about the team.

~ By Michael L. Duckett

CIAA Journal: Hustling tickets

Anyone who has been near Time Warner Cable Arena this weekend knows that you cannot step two feet without being approached by someone asking if you need tickets. We stopped one of those guys peddling tickets on the street, who told us his name was Mike (shown here), and we asked him exactly how this hustle works.

Mike said he traveled to Charlotte from Philadelphia and has been scalping tickets for the past two years.

“It’s a good business,” he said. “Basically it’s like retail. We pick up for cheap and we sell them for more. We make our money purchasing tickets in bulk.”

He said he usually picks up tickets from fans who have purchased more tickets than they can use and want to recoup some of their cost.

“A lot of times we get them from people who may have bought six tickets, but then only two people can go,” explained Mike. “They are not going to just eat that cost and let those tickets go down the drain, so they just sell them to a scalper.”

The downside, he said, is that this year sales have not been so great.

“Right now the economy is messed up,” he said. “Everybody is being real cheap. So I’m only selling tickets for $25.”

That’s not so bad for CIAA fans, considering the average ticket can cost upwards of $60.

~ By Michaela L. Duckett

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