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Blue Bears make history

Congratulations to Livingstone College’s Blue Bears on capturing the institution’s first CIAA men’s basketball championship.
The team did it in authoritative fashion, defeating Winston-Salem State 83-68 despite the resilient Rams closing to within seven points late in the second half of the Charlotte tourney before Livingstone slammed the door. Maybe it wasn’t a out-and-out mauling, but it was an impressive win, one that not only boosts the college’s profile but spreads some glitter on Salisbury, too.
The first-ever CIAA championship would be sweet under any circumstances. This trip to the winner’s circle should be especially gratifying, however, coming after recent years in which the Blue Bears were achingly close to clinching the title. They’ve been on the verge of taking it all before, but this year everything came together, foreshadowed by their second consecutive Southern Division title. Now, the team can savor the spoils of victory, which includes recognition from the city of Salisbury and today’s parade, as well as the year-long bragging rights that come with a collegiate championship.
While praising the hoop heroics, Livingstone College President Jimmy Jenkins pointed out that the team also had the highest grade-point average among the 12 men’s CIAA teams. Academics should always come first — but there’s no denying the importance that athletic success plays today in boosting a college’s reputation and attracting students, future players and financial support. Livingstone triumphed on a large stage: The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association tourney is a highly popular showcase, drawing hundreds of thousands of fans to Charlotte with an estimated $50 million impact on the city’s economy.
In some ways, Livingstone may have felt like it was competing on its home court, given that the tournament has been held just down the road for the past eight years. If so, that advantage will continue, since tournament officials announced it will remain in the Queen City at least through 2020, with the CIAA headquarters moving there as well. It’s too early to be dreaming about back-to-back titles, though. For now, Livingstone can bask in the limelight and enjoy the community’s well-earned cheers.

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