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Ram Ramblings: Best WSSU sports moment of the year is easy; It was Feb. 29 when WSSU won CIAA championship

Ram Ramblings: Best WSSU sports moment of the year is easy; It was Feb. 29 when WSSU won CIAA championship

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CHARLOTTE – I couldn’t help but think about the last time I was here.

While I covered Wake Forest’s final football game in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl against Wisconsin on Wednesday, the memories of Feb. 29 came back to me in a hurry.

Of course, the year 2020 would have an extra day but 10 months ago Winston-Salem State beat Fayetteville State in the CIAA championship game at the Spectrum Center.

Looking back on that, there were nearly 8,000 fans and most of them WSSU fans, who celebrating the school’s 12th CIAA title without masks. It was back when everything was normal, before the pandemic hit in March and everything came to a halt.

It’s not hard to come up with the best moment for WSSU this year. When Robert Colon hit three free throws in the closing seconds to put the Rams up for good, Coach Cleo Hill Jr. and the rest of the Rams celebrated in style on the court.

Defense was the team’s calling card all season and that defense was pivotal in the final four minutes as they held off the Broncos.

What makes that CIAA Tournament championship mean so much more is what’s happened since. The Division II Tournament was cancelled, the fall football season was cancelled and this basketball season was also cancelled.

The title maybe means that much more because it’s a great memory in such an unmemorable year of COVID-19 changing everybody’s lives.

For Colon, a senior who graduated, his final game in a WSSU uniform was one for the record books. On Thursday afternoon I reached out to Colon from his parents’ home in Jacksonville, N.C. to get his perspective on what the championship meant for him, even 10 months later.

CIAA Championship

Rob Colon made three free throws to give WSSU the lead with 4.6 seconds left. Fayetteville State missed a shot at the buzzer and the Rams won the CIAA title.

“Looking back I feel like it was impressive mainly because of the way we came back late in the game,” Colon said. “We were down and out for the most part but coming back the way we did made it even more special.”

Colon said he hasn’t had any nightmares where he misses any of the three free throws, and he said his confidence grew after he made the first one.

“The first one bounced in but the second two were straight net,” said Colon, who graduated as the seventh-leading scorer in WSSU history and was a four-year starter.

Colon is busy these days trying to gain a foothold on a possible professional career in basketball. He’s been working out in Raleigh and while staying with a cousin, and also works out a lot when he goes home to Jacksonville.

It’s been hard during the pandemic to try and find a place in pro basketball but Colon is determined.

“I’m working hard and staying in shape because that’s my dream,” Colon said.

Colon, who graduated with a degree in sports management, said if he can survive Dr. Dennis Felder he can survive anything.

“Dr. Felder’s tough but that’s a good thing,” Colon said about earning his degree. “He was great for me.”

As for the championship rings the Rams earned, the players and coaches all got their fingers sized but that’s been it.

“We haven’t heard yet when the rings will be given to us, but I guess it won’t be this season because the CIAA cancelled basketball,” Colon said. “I feel bad for all those guys in the CIAA because it’s tough not to play.”

CIAA Championship

Winston-Salem State's team, administrators and cheerleaders with the championship trophy after the Rams' 63-62 win over Fayetteville State in the championship game of the CIAA men's basketball tournament on Feb. 29.

Among all the comments Colon has heard since he was named the MVP of the CIAA Tournament, there are a couple that stick out.

“Coach (Ricky) Wilson (an assistant coach) said after the game my name was now etched as one of the greats in the long, storied history of the school,” Colon said. “And BDAHT (Brian McLaughlin) was saying there are 18 jerseys hanging up in the rafters at the Gaines Center and he said I should be the 19th, so those things kind of stick out to me.”

One of the best videos shot from that game came from Billy Friende of Kernersville. He was in the front row at the Spectrum Center and used his phone to detail the final moments of the game and the celebration afterwards.

We don’t know what 2021 will bring, but it has to be better for everybody. It’s nice to think back to that CIAA championship game because it felt so normal.

5 difference makers who made headlines in and around Winston-Salem in 2020

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