Livingstone College

Livingstone players earn CIAA honors

By Laurie D. Willis
Livingstone College News Service

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Five Livingstone College basketball players were honored Monday at the 2015 CIAA men’s and women’s Basketball Tip-off Awards Luncheon, held inside the Charlotte Convention Center.

The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association Tournament, in its 10th year in Charlotte, is among the nation’s oldest and largest basketball tournaments and draws people from throughout the country. Known as much for the celebrities it lures and the dollars it pumps into the local economy, the CIAA Tournament is considered the place to be annually during the last week in February.

The competition begins today at 10 a.m.; the Lady Blue Bears take the floor at 2:20 p.m. to compete against Bowie State University.

On Monday, players and coaches from all 12 teams gathered in Charlotte for the awards banquet, where three Livingstone players were named to the men’s 2014-15 All-CIAA Team, one women’s player was named to the All-CIAA Squad and another women’s player was named to the Rookie Team.

The awards were announced as the Blue Bear men prepare to defend their CIAA title while the women hope to continue their winning ways and capture their first title in 15 years.

Leading the Blue Bear men were Eric Mayo, Hakeem Jackson and Eric Dubose, whose All-CIAA selections marked the second consecutive year the Blue Bears have had multiple players earn a spot on the squad.

Dubose, a junior guard from Brooklyn, N.Y., averaged 15.7 points and 3.2 assists per game to lead the Blue Bears this season. Jackson, a senior forward from Live Oak, Fla., averaged 15 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. And Mayo, a senior forward from Shelby, N.C., averaged 13.6 points and 8.5 rebounds per game for Livingstone.

Last year, Jody Hill and Mark Thomas were named to the All-CIAA squad, Thomas was named CIAA Player of the Year and the Blue Bears captured the CIAA men’s title for the first time in school history.

This year’s team finished 7-3 in the Southern Division and was named Co-Champion with rival Winston-Salem State University. The Blue Bears hope to make history again by bringing the title back to Salisbury.

“To God be the glory for this group of players because they understand from where their strength comes,” said Head Coach James Stinson, Jr. “We lost 40 percent of our offense but still accomplished our goal to become Southern Division champions for the third year in a row, and I take my hat off to them for that.

“After losing seniors Jody and Mark, a lot of people didn’t have very high expectations for us but these guys assumed their roles and helped get us back to where we need to be,” Stinson continued. “We look forward to playing hard in the tournament and taking it one game at a time. The league is very competitive this year from top to bottom, and any team can win it. Our challenge is to string together three good games, win the title and move on to play at the national level.”

The men’s first game is at 7 p.m. Thursday against Lincoln.

Cierra York, a senior guard from Winston-Salem, N.C. , averaged 13.1 points per game to lead the women’s team this year, earning a spot on the All-CIAA team for her efforts.

“Cierra is very deserving of being named to the All-CIAA team,” said Head Coach Anita Howard. “She has donned a Livingstone College jersey for four years, and she’s ready to end her career with a bang. She’s been extremely focused since preseason, and I don’t see anything stopping her from helping us reach the championship.”

Joining York in being recognized on the women’s side was freshman forward/center Alexis Fowler of Lexington, N.C. She averaged 2.7 points and 1.9 rebounds per game, earning a place on the All Rookie team.

“Alexis is a phenomenal freshman, and for her to be playing so big and strong without fear of the competition speaks volumes about what’s to come from her,” Howard said. “I definitely think she’ll be a key factor in us being successful in the tournament by providing a strong post presence.”

Howard said the squad had a good practice on Sunday at Time Warner Cable Arena and enters the tournament today with a new-found focus. The women hope to earn Livingstone its first CIAA title in 15 years.

“The girls know what’s at stake and plan to work as hard as they can to bring the championship back to Livingstone,” Howard said. “That was a goal we set at the beginning of the season, and we know we’ve got to take it one game at a time because everyone is going to give us their best shot.”

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