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CIAA Tournament bigger than just hoops

Students attend basketball games, activities that feel like homecoming
Point guard Kendall Bynum pauses during a break in the action against Johnson C. Smith at the CIAA game in Baltimore. Photo by Rayquan Smith.

Virginia State University, along with several other universities, gathered in Baltimore for the annual CIAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournament at the end of February for a week filled with competitive basketball as well as student-engaged environments that brought fun, networking and friendly competition together.

VSU Graduate student Ronnie Johnson described his weekend at the CIAA tournament. He explained that his time in Baltimore was exciting and an experience that every student should have.

“It was like a homecoming for all schools to come together. It felt like a family environment with friendly rivalries with the other schools,” Johnson said.

“It was a way for me to enjoy my peers, meet other royal courts, SGA members and students from other schools. The conference was really a good time.”

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CIAA week held a great deal of events for students from the basketball tournament to a career expo, fan fest, high school education day, the crowning of Mister and Miss CIAA and step shows. Teams from different schools competed against each other in these events, essentially creating a rallying environment and opportunity for students to show their school spirit.

Transfer student Kendall Bynum, a member of the VSU men’s basketball team, gives a little insight on his first CIAA experience.

“My first CIAA experience was amazing. From the time we entered the city, all we saw were CIAA signs and billboards posted all around us,” Bynum said. “It was pretty cool meeting the other school’s teams and seeing familiar faces. Playing in the CIAA tournament has always been something that I had dreamed of growing up, so being in that environment was a dream come true.”

The VSU men’s basketball team won their first contest against Johnson C. Smith 66-56 but ultimately lost to Claflin University during the quarterfinals with a final score of 75-69. The women’s basketball team lost to Fayetteville State University during the semifinals with a final score of 86-61. They defeated Johnson C. Smith also 51-42. 

The CIAA will return next March to Baltimore for the 2025  tournament.

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