Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott and CIAA Commissioner Jacqie McWilliams pictured before Tuesday's tournament’s first game. (Jerrell Jordan/CIAA)

The CIAA tournament returns to Baltimore for its second year of in-person activities.

The tournament began Tuesday, Feb.21 and will conclude with the men’s and women’s basketball championship on Saturday, Feb.25.

Outside of the games, there will be a number of events happening throughout the tournament, including Fan Fest, an alumni mixer, a step show and more.

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

Pre-tournament honors

Photo: Johnson C. Smith University

On Monday night, the CIAA Tip-Off Awards banquet saw several student-athletes receive recognition, like two first-year JCSU students.

India Howard (pictured left) and Ezekiel Cannedy (pictured right) were named 2022-23 Women’s and Men’s Basketball All-CIAA Rookies of the Year. 

Howard led the conference with 10.6 rebounds per game during the regular season. The six-foot-one forward from Coppell, TX, also averaged 9.1 points while shooting 45 percent from the field.  She is the only player in the CIAA averaging 1.5 steals per game and at least one block per game this season. 

As a freshman, Cannedy finished the regular season as a top-five scorer in the conference, averaging 15.4 points per game. The six-foot-two guard from Kings Mountain, N.C. also led the conference  with 2.6 threes per game. Canddey also averaged 1.6 assists and 1.4 steals per game.

Sharing knowledge with the community

Photo courtesy of JCSU

The CIAA presidents met up at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum ahead of the tournament to talk with WBAL-TV 11 Baltimore and discuss the importance of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. 

Making a statement

Photo courtesy of JCSU

The JCSU women’s basketball team defeated the Virginia Union Lady Panthers, 72-54.Redshirt senior guard Shaniya Jones (pictured above) was named the player of the game.

An ‘encouraging’ event

Paul Holmes (Kera Robinson/City Metro)

For Paul Holmes , the CIAA tournament is an “encouraging” event for the city of Baltimore.

“We were a large city, but we are starting to see people  not coming out as much,”  he told QCity Metro. “This [tournament] brings people back into this area, retail back into this area, it’s an influx that I enjoy seeing.”

 The 1975 graduate of Coppin State University, Holmes has participated in the tournament week nearly a dozen times, enjoying the games and parties with his friends.

Now, at 74, he isn’t as into the party scene anymore but enjoys stopping by to watch the games.

“It’ll be here until 2025, and I plan to come each time,” he said.

Upset Alert

Photo courtesy of JCSU

JCSU women’s basketball team upset #1 seed Fayetteville State University, 62-54, to advance to the Final Four of the CIAA Tournament. Redshirt senior guard Shaniya Jones received a second consecutive player of the game nod after her 27-point performace.

Entertaining the crowd

The Red Team, WSSU cheerleaders [Jalon Hill/QCity Metro]

Winston Salem State University cheerleaders, the Red Team, giving the crowd a brief show during the timeout break.

Shaw University Mascot Photo: Jalon Hill/QCity Metro

You know who this bear is rooting for!

An opportunity for new business

Lauren Miller and her partner, Levon [Kera Robinson/QCity Metro]

As you stroll down West Baltimore Street, across from CFG Bank Area, you will find a line of food trucks. Birdbox Express is one of them.

Lauren Miller and her partner Levon started the southern cuisine- entric food truck last year and, like most startup businesses owners, they have seen a share of challenges early on.

When the couple was offered the opportunity to  set up during CIAA Tournament week, they knew they couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

Both graduated from Delaware State University and understand how important HBCU culture is to the Black opportunity. They are hoping the influx of people will increase traffic at their food truck.

“So far, it’s been going good. We don’t know what to expect as the week goes on,” Lauren said.

Survive and Advance

WSSU’s Xavier Fennell heavily pressed by Claflin’s DaiJohn Stewart [Kera Robinson]

Winston Salem State guard Xavier Fennell heavily pressed by Claflin guard DaiJohn Stewart in the CIAA quarterfinals. WSSU defeated Claflin 60-52 to advance to the Final Four.

ECSU’s Jada Nowlin [Kera Robinson/QCity Metro]

Elizabeth City State junior guard Jada Nowlin knocking down key free throws to help her team defeat JCSU, 53-52, advancing to the championship game

A quick trip down the light rail

Debbie Dickerson [Kera Robinson/ QCity Metro]

We found Debbie Dickerson walking into the Fan Fest ready to participate in the activities.

A 1979 Virginia State University graduate, she has always participated in CIAA, no matter the distance. The trip is alot easier now that tournment is in her hometown, she said.

“It’s no expense. I can catch the light rail and here I am, in the midst of all these activities,” she said. “It’s great.” 

She said she enjoys seeing the next generation of HBCU students enjoying the tournment, just as she did as a undergrad. 

A man of the people

Mayor Brandon Scott [Kera Robinson/ QCity Metro]

Baltimore mayor Brandon Scott taking a picture with some kids during the tournament.

Crowning two champions

WSSU men’s basketball team [Sn33kClips]

The WSSU men’s basketball team defeated the Lincoln University, 62-57. The championship is the 13 in the Rams’ basketball history.

ECSU women’s basketball team [Sn33kClips]

The ECSU women’s basketball team defeated the Shaw Bears, 55-40, to win its first championship in program history. 

Photo courtesy of WSSU Athletics

WSSU junior guard Jaylen Alston was named the CIAA Tournament MVP.

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

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