The table is set for the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association tournament championship games on Saturday, and one coach is no stranger to big games in Baltimore.

Fayetteville State’s Luke D’Alessio was previously the head coach of CCBC-Catonsville, as well as an assistant at Loyola Maryland and head coach at Bowie State. His Broncos defeated Virginia Union 53-51 on Friday to advance to the CIAA championship game against Lincoln at CFG Bank Arena.

The Broncos had to go through D’Alessio’s old team, Bowie State, in Wednesday’s quarterfinal matchup, defeating the Bulldogs 77-53. His biggest rival at Bowie State was Virginia Union, and his goal at his former school, he said, was to defeat the Panthers “because they were a national powerhouse.” Defeating Virginia Union was even sweeter Friday because it avenged a 62-48 home loss Jan. 11 and a 63-60 road loss Nov. 25.

“They’ve beaten us the last four times in the regular season — twice this year and twice the previous year,” D’Alessio said. “It’s a special feeling, especially in Baltimore. We love playing here. I love playing here. My kids are here, my family is here, and I have a lot of fan support. The only problem that I have is tickets for tomorrow.”

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D’Alessio led CCBC-Catonsville for six seasons, compiling a 124-52 record from 1993-99. The Cardinals won two Maryland junior college tournament championships and a conference title, and made a national Elite Eight appearance.

Bowie State hired D’Alessio in 1999, when he was charged to lead the program to its first winning season in 30 years. It took the Bulldogs one season to turn around. The 1999-2000 season was a rough one for D’Alessio’s squad, finishing 7-21. He hasn’t had a losing season as a head coach since, putting together a 199-96 record in 10 years at Bowie State.

The Raritan, New Jersey, native was inducted into the Bowie State Hall of Fame in 2017.

Lincoln beat Clafin 58-52, with point guard Reggie Hudson leading the way. He finished with 14 points, four assists, eight rebounds and five steals.

Fayetteville State women make the championship game, but Elizabeth City State looks to repeat

Fayetteville State’s Tyreece Brown entered the season as the interim head coach. His goal was to claim victory in the CIAA tournament to garner an opportunity to take over the program. Not only has his team met expectations so far, but he’s built a name for himself and the program.

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Brown was named CIAA Coach of the Year for the 2023-24 season, going 17-1 in conference play and guiding his team to a 23-2 regular-season record. Broncos senior Aniylah Bryant is the CIAA Player of the Year.

As for the team’s Saturday afternoon opponent, Elizabeth City State, the chance to win back-to-back CIAA titles is well within reach after a 70-58 victory in the semifinals against Claflin. NyAsia Blango scored 18 points, knocking down five 3-point field goals.

Colorado quarterback Shedeur Sanders appears at CIAA Fan Fest

Hosting the oldest historically Black college basketball tournament certainly can draw celebrities. One former HBCU star attended CIAA Fan Fest on Friday evening.

Colorado quarterback Shedeur Sanders took photos with fans in a Wendy’s-sponsored booth. Sanders previously played for Southwestern Athletic Conference member Jackson State, an HBCU, before transferring to Colorado with his brother, safety Shilo Sanders, when their father, Deion Sanders, become head coach there.

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