QCity Metro file photo

The CIAA Basketball Tournament is back, only this year it’s in Baltimore.

QCity Metro reporter Jalon Hill is there to share the sights and sounds. He’ll be updating this journal throughout the tournament.

Exposing a new generation

“Exciting” was the word 11-year old Ethan Perkins used to describe the basketball games he’s seen this week.

This is his first time attending a CIAA tournament, and he’s enjoyed himself all week. 

But for his parents, Fred and Kativa Perkins, this trip was about more than just having fun.

Living in Navarre, Florida, they aren’t exposed to many HBCUs, other than Florida A&M University and Bethune-Cookman University.

Ethan attends a predominantly white school, so the Perkins wanted to expose their son to the HBCU experience.

“We want him to experience all the culture and heritage,” Kativa Perkins said.

Scene at CIAA

When Omari Booker isn’t painting, the former Tennessee State University basketball player is catching a tournament game. He recently finished a painting of CIAA Commissioner Jacqie McWilliams, Earl Monroe and legendary coaches Clarence “Big House” Gaines and John McLendon.

Scene at CIAA

The Winston-Salem State University “Red Sea of Sound”marching band performing during the CIAA’s Battle of the Bands.

‘He put us on the map’

We found Raneka Scott standing outside the Baltimore Convention Center. She had just left the John B. McLendon Jr. CIAA Hall of Fame Breakfast in support of Jamie Waller, one of six basketball players inducted into the 2022 class.

Waller, a standout at Virginia Union University from 1983 to 1887, was a childhood friend and teammate of Scott’s father in South Boston, Virginia.

Scott and her family came to Baltimore — their first time attending CIAA Week — to support their hometown friend.

“Coming from a small town, he put us on the map, so it’s a big thing,” she said.

20 years and counting

The afternoon temperature was a chilly 43 degrees when Faye Strong and Deborah Robinson set out for CIAA Fan Fest.

They are both 1980 graduates of Virginia State University, and they have attended every CIAA Week for at least the last 20 years.

Despite the chill, they wanted to the see the city and catch up with former classmates.

“We used to go to the day parties and jazz club in Charlotte, so we plan to do that here,” Strong said.

Scene at CIAA

What would tournament week be without cheerleaders? Here struts the St. Augustine’s University squad.

A CIAA newbie

Xavier Sykes had never experienced CIAA Week, but with the party now in his hometown, he decided to give it a try.

As of Friday, the Bowie State University graduate had attended every game and was planning to attend the Battle of the Bands and Step Show.

When asked whether he would return, Sykes smile.

“Probably until the day I die,” he said. “I’ll come back again.”

Jalon is a general assignment reporter for QCity Metro. He is a graduate of North Carolina Central University and an avid sports fan. (jalon@qcitymetro.com)

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