Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Lady Lions Lacrosse persists despite the weather

Laura Nagg
Copy Editor

Typically, spring sports start off in bitter cold and rainy weeks of March but look forward to sunny, 75 degrees days in the coming weeks. This year the weather has turned out to be something much less than usual. Spring sports started on Monday, March 5, girls lacrosse included, and with 4 Nor’easters interrupting their outside field time. This has caused most practices to be inside and games cancelled. During the limited outdoor practices, the fields were usually soaking wet with the temperature regularly below 45 degrees with rough winds.
  Despite these challenges, the morale of the team has not been hindered. They were able to finally play their first games after 4 problematic weeks.
  On Tuesday, April 3, the girls defeated Neshaminy High School with a 9-6 triumph battling the cold, rain, and mud. Then, on April 5, Council Rock South was able to pull a 2-point lead at the finish of the game, yet the team was proud of their endurace, tenacity, and teamwork as they held their own and were complimented by the opposing team’s coach. The JV team won both their games this week thanks to their new goalkeeper Sydney Ives and strong offensive action.
  The lady’s next scheduled game will be  Monday, April 9, against another powerhouse Council Rock North at NHS home field. They are hoping that the sun will come out, the fields will dry up, and the warm weather will finally arrive. The team’s excitement and vigor in these games display an energy that will certainly get them far this year.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Messi leads Barca to Champions League Round of 16 win

Thomas Muzekari and Vince Vetrano
Staff Writers

On Wednesday, March 14, Barcelona defeated Chelsea 3-0 in a home second-leg matchup at the Camp Nou, leading the Catalan giants into the Champions League quarter finals. Going into the second leg, it was 1-1, so the 3-0 win gave Barca a 4-1 victory on aggregate.
  The star of the show was yet again Lionel Messi. The Argentine followed up a first-leg goal with two more goals plus an assist in the second leg. After another brilliant performance, midfielder Andres Iniesta explained how it is “so difficult to say any new things about Leo.” per ESPN. Iniesta and Messi have been playing together at Barcelona since Messi made his professional debut in 2004.
  Messi became the fastest player to score one hundred goals in the Champions League. He accomplished the feat in just 123 matches. Messi joined his fellow rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who is the only other player to reach the century mark in Europe’s elite club competition. The only difference between the two stars is that it took the Real Madrid superstar 144 games to reach the mark.
  After the draw on Friday, it was determined that Barcelona will face AS Roma in the quarter finals. The first leg will be on April 4. The other quarter final matchups are Sevilla vs. Bayern Munich, Juventus vs. Real Madrid, and Liverpool vs. Manchester City.

Phillies Hope to speed rebuild with off-season picks

Justin Fischetti
Staff Writer

Last year, the Phillies spent yet another season towards the bottom of the MLB standings as the team’s painfully slow rebuild continued. Despite missing the playoffs for the sixth straight year, promising signs of progress in the rebuild were seen last season with strong performances from center fielder Odubel Herrera and starting pitcher Aaron Nola in their second year in the majors. Other young players, such as catcher Jorge Alfaro, shortstop J.P. Crawford, and first baseman/left fielder Rhys Hoskins, were called into the majors for the first time and delivered with promising results. However, even with these prospects likely to improve as they get used to major league competition, the rebuild still has ways to go and playoff contention seems unlikely in the 2018 season.
  However, in the last few months, general manager Matt Klentak has led the franchise to a surprisingly busy off-season with a series of moves that look to speed up the rebuild and perhaps push the Phillies closer to playoff contention sooner than previously expected.
  First, Klentak made a splash when he signed first baseman Carlos Santana to a three-year, $60 million deal. Santana has hit 57 home runs over the past two seasons and hopes to add some power to a Phillies offense that has been struggling for the past few seasons. If Hoskins can continue to hit with power as well, then the Phillies would have a solid pair of power hitters in the middle of their lineup to help end the team’s run-scoring issues.
  The Phillies then made two moves that will give their bullpen a boost. First they signed Tommy Hunter, who finished with a respectable 2.61 ERA in 58⅔ innings last season. They then signed Pat Neshek, who was also with the Phillies last season before he was dealt at the trade deadline to the Colorado Rockies. Neshek finished with a 1.59 ERA in 62⅓ innings between the Phillies and Rockies last season. The Phillies bullpen was ranked around the middle of the pack last season, so these signings could make the bullpen one of the best in baseball.
  Perhaps the biggest splash though occurred recently when on March 11, the Phillies signed starting pitcher Jake Arrieta to a three-year, $75 million deal. Arrieta has been one of the most successful pitchers over the past few years, winning the National League Cy Young reward with the Chicago Cubs in 2015 and leading them to a World Series title the next season. While Arrieta took a small step back last season, he nonetheless finished with a respectable 3.53 ERA in 30 starts and will undoubtedly be a huge boost to a starting rotation that struggled last season and lacked any reliable starter other than Nola.
  With these signings, the Phillies now have a real chance to make some noise in the National League sooner than expected. They will most certainly improve from their 66-96 record last season, and if some luck goes their way, it’s not crazy to think they could get involved in the Nation League Wild Card race as early as next season.

Hart race heats up at the end

Jack Buckard
Staff Writer

The National Hockey League, just like all of the other leagues across the nation, holds an awards show at the end of the year to celebrate great seasons and individual accomplishments. The MVP award in the NHL is called the Hart Memorial Trophy. While the selection should not be difficult, this year is bringing up heated debates on who should win it, from veteran captains to new rookies.
  In most other leagues, the MVP awards normally goes to the best player in the league, or who had the most points. In the NHL, those two would likely be either Sidney Crosby or Connor McDavid winning it each year, but that isn’t the case. The definition given to the trophy by the league is, “the player judged most valuable to his team”. Therefore, Crosby or McDavid likely will not win it each year, with their respective teams have other great players around them, so it they aren’t deemed the most valuable. This is where the debate for this years selection comes from. For months on end, Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov has been the leader in the Hart Trophy ballot, until now. Kucherov has stopped producing like he did in the beginning and McDavid has overtaken the points lead in the league. Now, his name is in the forefront. However, the big talking point here is that McDavid’s team, the Oilers, are one of the worst in the league. He is racking up points, but is not helping them get into the playoffs. The statement, “the player judged most valuable to his team”, is now being interpreted as, “a good player is having a great season and is getting their team unexpectedly into the playoffs.”
  This now means that other player such as Nathan Mackinnon of the Colorado Avalanche, Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings, Claude Giroux of the Philadelphia Flyers, and a handful of others. These players have seemed to single-handedly pushed their teams to the next level, while the points leader is just assisting goals that lead to nothing now. The debate is raging and will ultimately come down to the league’s journalists, who decide the winner. Now the question is, who do you think should win?

76ers look good, even without Embiid

John Flavin and Nick Garritano
Staff Writers

The Philadelphia 76ers are looking much improved this season with a record of 47-30. The team made many offseason moves to improve the roster, like drafting Markelle Fultz and signing JJ Reddick. The biggest component of the Sixers success this year has been a healthy Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Embiid missed over 50 games last year, and Simmons missed all 82. Unfortunately, Embiid recently injured his face and is out a couple of weeks.
  Having both of them healthy this year has certainly made a difference. They are currently on a 10-game win streak and continue to win games without Embiid. Markelle Fultz has returned to play and he has looked good in limited minutes. Hopefully he can be a bigger part of the rotation by the playoffs. The Sixers defense this year has been exceeding expectations and have the 5th ranked defense in the NBA. Joel Embiid is the anchor of it all and has a good chance to win Defensive Player of the Year.
  If the playoffs started today, the Sixers would be matched up against the Indiana Pacers. Their key players are Victor Oladipo, Myles Turner, and Thaddeus Young. Although the Pacers record has been better than the Sixers most of the season, they could win the series with their defense, hustle, and the combo of Ben Simmon and Joel Embiid. The city of Philadelphia would love to see this happen after seeing the team struggle for the past several seasons.

Philadelphia 76ers are Hoping for a Late Season Playoff Berth

Jack Gawason and Logan Waterman
Staff Writers

After years of suffering and tanking, the process is finally starting to show results. The Sixers currently have their best winning percentage since the ’03 season and are sitting at sixth place in the Eastern Conference standings. Their success can be credited to upcoming stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Joel Embiid is having a phenomenal season playing in all three events during all star weekend topping it off with a strong performance against the league's best players.  Ben Simmons is having a phenomenal Rookie of the Year campaign averaging 16 points, 7 assists, and 7 rebounds per game. Other key players include youngster Dario Saric, Robert Covington, and T.J McConnell. Two under the radar off season signings in J. J. Redick and Amir Johnson have paid dividends as the two have absorbed plenty of minutes along with their leadership for the youngsters.
  At the trade deadline the Sixers stayed quiet besides the small addition of Trevor Booker which proved to be trade that moved Jahlil Okafor out of Philly. They seemed to be satisfied with their progress but when Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova become available they had to add them to the roster. So far both have strived adding valuable minutes replacing star players. The have won ten of their last fourteen games and four of seven important games the biggest against the Cleveland Cavaliers. If they keep playing like this a playoff berth seems likely considering they have the easiest schedule in the East for the rest of the season. With this teams youth and the success they have already shown keeping in mind that their first round draft pick is still injured this team and the city of Philadelphia could be enjoying success for years to come.

Monday, March 12, 2018

People are Going Mad for March Madness

Frank Spadavecchia and Devin Bock
Staff Writers 

All of the conference tournaments are coming to an end, which means it is time for the big dance. Left and right teams are punching their tickets into the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament. With all of the upsets and close games that have taken place this year, the NCAA Tournament is looking like it may be one of the best yet. Look at a team like St. John’s, a team that won’t make the tournament but beat two top five teams in Duke and Villanova in back-to-back games. These types of games have occurred across the country this year in college basketball. Therefore, we can only expect that these good Mid-Major teams have a solid chance to upset the higher ranked Power 5 conference teams. Leading to one of the most exciting March Madness’ we may ever see.
 Teams have two ways to get into the tournament. The easiest is by simply winning their conference. Each team has their own individual conference tournament which they have a chance to win resulting in the conference champion moving on with an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Many upsets in these conference championships have already taken place. For example, teams like Nevada who were expected to breeze through their tournament lost in their championships. Number 1 seed Xavier lost in overtime to unranked Providence. These are just a few of the upsets that took place this weekend. The other way is by putting your fate in the hands of the NCAA selection committee. This means that the selection committee will look at each team’s season and determine whether or not they deserve to be in the tournament. Because of this, teams can end up being on the bubble. Teams that are on the bubble have records that are both worthy and not worthy of making the tournament. Then on Selection Sunday their fate is decided by the selection committee which will either make or break the dreams of many colleges.

 Then from this point on the real madness begins. Now teams will have to play opponents they have never played against, resulting in a totally new atmosphere of basketball. Each team has a clean slate and every game is single elimination meaning that it only takes one off-day to cause a total upset. It is this complete unpredictability that causes this mayhem and confusion surrounding the tournament. This time period of “March Madness” is the pinnacle of college basketball. For any new basketball viewers this is a perfect way to submerge yourself into the college basketball scene. So find a nice spot on your couch with some snacks in one hand and your brackets in the other cause it’s March Madness baby!