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CIAA Hoopla Wraps Up with Super Saturday Events, Championship Games

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RALEIGH — From the action on the court to the pageantry off the court, theCIAA Tournamentcreated a lot of excitement in its first year in Raleigh.

A week of basketball excitement culminated in Saturday's championship games.

The women of Livingstone College won their first CIAA championship title with a 63-62 win overBowie State University. The men ofWinston-Salem State UniversitybeatN.C. Central University63-50.

Before Saturday's big games, CIAA bands and cheerleaders took center stage, showing off their moves and music.

The energy and enthusiasm that goes into the routines is obvious, but it takes months of practice to perfect the performances. Participants say it is worth the hard work.

"It's breathtaking," says Jonathan Hamiel of performing on the big court.

Spectators appreciate all of the hard work.

"It is exciting. You don't know what they'll do next, and you look forward to what's next," says fan Kelli Davis.

The marching band performances are not judged, but it is treated like a competition. Band members say there is something more important than a trophy at stake.

"A lot of it is bragging rights, because a lot of the schools, especially here in North Carolina, are close together and we see each other quite frequently," says Winston-Salem State student E.B. Bennett.

The CIAA Tournament is about more than just basketball. To many people it is like a family reunion.

For 25 years, a group of 44 gets together every year for CIAA weekend. It is a chance to enjoy old friends and good basketball.

Some members of this group came all the way from California and Michigan for this year's reunion.

Those who came to this year's CIAA festivities say Raleigh scored points with them. Some say things could be even better by opening the upper level of the Entertainment and Sports Arena to fans who were not able to attend the sold out event.

CIAA commissioner Leon Kerry says the tournament is thrilled with the the outcome in Raleigh. He says parking will be improved over the next two years the tournament is held here.

Kerry says some ideas come down to money. He says opening the upper level of the arena to fans would cost an additional $40,000. Suggestions by students and alumni to sell more tickets individually, instead of in books, would not guarantee profits.

Many more cheers than jeers for Raleigh's first year as host of the weeklong event. A steering committee for the CIAA will meet to discuss how to make the 2001 CIAA Tournament even better. Reporter:Melissa BuscherandStephanie HawcoandAdrianne Traxinger