Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Special Olympics Baseball is on the rise

David Shonis and Kyle Lynch
Staff Writers

Located in the small town of Lawrenceville, NJ, the New Jersey Special Olympic facility is the home to many athletes that are granted opportunities to play the sports that they love. Over the years, the Special Olympics have taken place across the nation in every state providing adults and kids the resources to allow them to play sports.
 A few years ago, Special Olympics in New Jersey established the first-ever baseball team for their facility and many adults and kids are currently participating to live their dreams of playing our nation’s pastime.
 Tony Vlahovic is the one who organized the sport for the athletes and is continuing to promote the game of baseball to Special Olympic athletes so they too can be a part of a great team. Vlahovic is the current head baseball coach for our school, and he and his baseball team have put in endless hours of help and support to make these athletes enjoy baseball and to instruct them to develop a great knowledge about the game. Special Olympics in New Jersey teamed up recently with New Hope-Solebury High School and Solebury School to have a unified baseball game in which the Special Olympic athletes could play a short 4-inning baseball game alongside both high school baseball teams and also against the teams too. This is the second straight year that this event has taken place and it has been a tremendous success. The opportunity for these athletes to play baseball with high school players and to learn off of them is something that they will cherish for a long time.
 When speaking with head coach Tony Vlahovic about why he loves being involved with Special Olympics, he said: “I love their passion for the game. They have rejuvenated my love for the game being around them.”
 Special Olympics Baseball in New Jersey has been growing the past few years and in fact, they took home gold a few years ago in the USA Games.
 There are many companies and organizations that are proud partners of Special Olympics New Jersey and some include: Wawa, Shoprite, United Airlines, TD Bank and the New York Giants. With the help of people volunteering and working with these athletes to teach them the game of baseball, anything is possible for them.
 The Princeton University baseball team also trains the athletes too and holds clinics at their complex to work with the individuals and teach them more about baseball. The Somerset Patriots tried out an athlete from the Special Olympics baseball team recently and gave the individual the chance to fulfill his dream of playing baseball for a semi-pro baseball club.
 Without all the contributions from high school baseball teams, colleges, organizations, parents, kids and coaches, none of this would be possible.
 Coach Vlahovic explained what sparked his interest in coaching and he said, “The reason why I got involved in coaching Special Olympics Baseball was I felt that these people can play baseball, but; we’re never given the opportunity to play.”
 This baseball team that has been put together by Special Olympics in New Jersey deserves recognition for the effort and hardwork that they put in to make these athletes happy and to open more doors for opportunities to play baseball.

2017 NBA draft is right around the corner

Will Kelley, Parker Cane, Justin Horak, Connor Fitzgerald
Staff Writers

The 2017 NBA draft is one to look forward to. There are many prospects that have showcased their skills during this years NCAA March Madness tournament. With UNC winning the title, their top 2 players Joel Berry II and Justin Jackson look like they could be solid late first-round picks. The 2016 draft class has not impressed many people, but rookies Jaylen Brown and Dario Saric have been very solid players for their respective teams, the Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers. With the Brooklyn Nets trading away three future first-round picks to the Boston Celtics, the Nets terrible record has rewarded the Celtics with the first-overall pick, which they will most likely use to take Point Guard Markelle Fultz from Washington State. Other teams that look like they will receive a top 5 pick are the Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns, Orlando Magic and Philadelphia 76ers. The top 5 projected picks are all backcourt players, meaning a Point Guard or Shooting Guard. The most exciting prospect is Point Guard Lonzo Ball from UCLA, the Ball family consists of three boys who are all basketball superstars. Ball showcases beautiful court vision, shooting perfection and can occasionally throw down vicious dunks.

 Some notable players worthy of attention are Malik Monk, a guard from Kentucky University who can bring prestigious shooting and quick defense that can transition into offense. Monk proved what he could do while playing for Kentucky in this year’s NCAA tournament. Kentucky went to the Elite 8, but fell short to tournament champions UNC. Monk hit two clutch three-pointers in the closing minutes to keep the game close. De'aaron Fox another guard from Kentucky looks to be a top 10 pick as he showcased his skills along with Malik Monk in the tournament, most people would probably give Monk the edge over Fox because of his shooting. Other prospects that look to go in the top 10 are Josh Jackson, Forward from Kansas, Dennis Smith Jr., Guard from NC State and Jayson Tatum, Forward from Duke University. Overall, this year's draft is one to look forward to as many of these prospects are capable of reaching their full potential in the NBA.

Barcelona wins El Clasico on Messi’s game-winner

Thomas Muzekari
Staff Writer

FC Barcelona defeated Real Madrid 3-2 in Madrid on Apr. 23 in the biggest rivalry in world soccer thanks largely in part to another astonishing performance from Lionel Messi who netted two goals that included a game-winner on the last play of the game. That goal was also the 500th that Messi has scored in his career with the Spanish club.
 Barcelona, down three points in the standings coming into this match, needed a win to give themselves a decent chance at still being able to grasp the league title.
 The game started off fast, and both teams were going at the other. In the first half Messi took a nasty elbow from Marcelo in the mouth which caused him to start bleeding severely. Messi would then play the rest of the first half with gauze in his mouth.
 The first goal of the match came from Casemiro for Real Madrid in the 28th minute, but then Messi, with some of his magic, scored just moments later to equalize in the 33rd minute. The score at halftime would be 1-1 after an exciting 45 minutes of the much anticipated Spanish clash.
 The second half provided many opportunities for both teams, and both goalkeepers were tested and had to make some difficult saves. In the 73rd minute though, Barcelona found the back of the net with a brilliant strike by Ivan Rakitic to put his side ahead 2-1.
 Four minutes later, Messi was taken down by a vicious sliding tackle from Sergio Ramos which earned the center back a red card. So, Madrid was now down to 10 men. Even so, they were able to tie the game 2-2 on a goal by James Rodriguez in the 87th minute.
 But it wasn’t over yet. Barcelona provided a magical moment on the last play of the game. Sergi Roberto surged forward for Barcelona and eventually played a ball to Andre Gomes who was to the left of the top of the box. Gomes then found Jordi Alba on the overlap, who then played a ball back across the center to the arriving Messi, who struck it first-time with that magical left foot of his and into the goal for the 92nd minute winner.
 It was the last kick of the game, and the Argentine went to the corner to celebrate by taking off his jersey and holding it up in front of the crowd. The referee gave him a yellow card, but Messi took it undeniably as he did not care at that point. He just had an unbelievable performance that included two goals, the second of which won El Clasico for Barcelona in dramatic fashion.
 It was a memorable night for Barcelona and the fans of the club, and it was one of--if not the greatest--rivalry games between these two sides ever. It had everything, saves, goals, great plays, controversy, and of course the dramatic ending.

 The 3-2 win put Barcelona tied with Real Madrid atop La Liga standings with five games remaining. Barcelona still needs a Real Madrid stumble since Madrid has a game in hand, but nonetheless, Barcelona is in position to make a run at another league title due to a great team effort and a heroic performance by--as head coach Luis Enrique put it-- “the best player in the history of the game.”

Thursday, April 6, 2017

The process has stalled

Lear Asplundh
Staff Writer

After many believed Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid would team up post All-Star break, bad news seemed to swarm the Sixers. After a Feb. 23 scan on Ben Simmons broken foot showed a setback, many Sixers fans grew unhappy. During a Jan. 27 game vs the Houston Rockets, Joel Embiid suffered a knee injury. Bryan Colangelo, President of the Philadelphia 76ers, reported false information that Embiid would be day to day following his injury scare vs the Rockets. A report came out that Embiid will likely have knee surgery during the offseason. Embiid will once again be sidelined the rest of the season.

 During Embiid’s time playing he did look promising, averaging 20 points and 7 rebounds per game. Many were hopeful that he would potentially lead the Sixers to the playoffs, but after minute restrictions and injuries Embiid only got to play in around 20 games the whole season. While on the court, Sixers fans were as loud as during the team’s 2012 run to the playoffs. Sixers fans are furious after the false news by Colangelo that Embiid was day-to-day. Colangelo has lied to the fans many times and fans seem to be done with it. Although it may seem Sixers fans are losing hope, they are still confident in the upcoming draft and offseason to form a championship caliber team.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Girls’ Lax hopeful about 2017 season

Shayna Berman
Stella Kelley
Laura Nagg
Staff Writers

The girls’ lacrosse season is one of the most anticipated times of the school year; players look forward to it from the beginning of the year. With a new JV coach, Rory Yerkes, and several new students joining the team, this year is guaranteed to be exciting and fun, and hopefully successful.
 The girls’ first game of the season, scheduled for March 21, was canceled due to field conditions after the snow storm. While some girls were upset about this, it gave new players some more time to practice and figure out where they belong on the field. Their next game took place at the end of that week, on Friday the 24. Unfortunately, the girls could not pull out a win with a tough loss against Upper Moreland, but it will definitely give the girls motivation to work hard and be prepared for the next game.
 Junior player Riley Brennan claims that she is “really excited for the rest of the season and cannot wait to get outside to play on the actual field.” Along with most of the other junior and senior players, she has been part of the team with Coach Dougherty since freshman year, and a strong bond is definitely present.
 Senior captain Victoria Kalinovich took a break from lacrosse for a few years, but last year she decided to dive right back in. She proves to be a strong leader and uplifts the team, as voted captain by the team last May. This spring will be her final sports season at New Hope, and she reflected on her career by saying: “I love it! I really do love it! I love the people, the sport, the bus rides, the coach, the family-feeling! It’s a great environment to be part of and I’m so glad I get to finish my career in high school sports on this team. I love everything!”
 Betsy Dougherty, the team’s fearless and passionate coach, who played on the Penn State Women's Lacrosse Team, and on the World Cup team for three consecutive years, has been the head coach for the past three seasons and assistant for the year prior. In anticipation of the season and team, Dougherty states: “I definitely see a lot of potential for this team. It is a rebuilding year with our strong seniors from last year gone, but everyone this year is pretty much at the same level and we can grow and advance together. Although there are no real shining stars on our team there’s plenty of skill that can be built upon.”

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

NBA Draft Preview

Kyle Lynch and David Shonis
Staff Writers

The 2017 NBA Draft is three months away and the biggest news surrounding the draft is who will be selected 1st overall. Notable 1st overall selections in the past drafts were: Blake Griffin, Kyrie Irving, Derrick Rose, Anthony Davis, Patrick Ewing, LeBron James, Tim Duncan, and the great Hakeem Olajuwon. There were some players though who did not live up to the expectations of performing at a high level who were drafted #1, but there is always excitement surrounding the draft. With the 2017 NBA Draft rapidly approaching, some notable top players in the upcoming draft include Markelle Fultz from Washington, Lonzo Ball from UCLA, Jayson Tatum from Duke, Jonathan Isaac from Florida State, Josh Jackson from Kansas, Malik Monk from Kentucky and Dennis Smith from NC State. Many of these top prospects happen to be freshman, and getting drafted into the NBA at the age of 18 as a freshman is a pretty big deal. Throughout the season these highly-skilled freshmen players continue to thrive.
Every month there seems to be another upperclassman player breaking out each month. With the 2017 NBA draft nearing, NBA teams looking to acquire first round picks include the Portland Trail Blazers, Brooklyn Nets and the Los Angeles Lakers after acquiring them at this past trade deadline. The NBA Mock Draft suggests that the Boston Celtics should pick up Markelle Fultz, freshman PG from Washington. Fultz offers more firepower as well as a potential future all star. Fultz would fit in well with the team and would be able to give Boston’s general manager more options. The Phoenix Suns could benefit tremendously from UCLA PG Lonzo Ball. This season they stand at 18 wins with no definite identity. Ball would be a crucial addition to the team and would promote ball movement and quick decisions.
As we look later on in the draft, teams such as Atlanta, San Antonio and Toronto will be looking to add to their arsenal of star players in an attempt to have more depth for when the playoffs roll around. Isaiah Hartenstein from Germany is getting many looks because of his big 6’ 11” frame, and he can be a threat down low. Atlanta is in desperate need of a big man to pair up with Dwight Howard so Hartenstein would be the ideal fit for the Hawks. Toronto may look to add some shooters to surround their star point guard, Kyle Lowry. Luke Kennard from Duke looks to be a great asset to the Raptors in an attempt to compete with the higher shooting teams in the league like Cleveland and Boston. San Antonio is in the hunt every year for a title and ranks usually at the top of the Western Conference but lack big men in the backcourt with rebounding and has costed them big games down the stretch of the playoffs. The Spurs will have their eyes on Johnathan Motley from Baylor, Cam Oliver from Nevada, and Tony Bradley from North Carolina. All of these men bring height and aggressiveness to the court and may get the Spurs deeper in the playoffs. The NBA Draft is almost here and questions will be answered as to what teams will draft the best and worst and most importantly, who will be #1?

Barcelona pulls off improbable Champions League comeback vs. PSG

Thomas Muzekari
Staff Writer

They were down and out. They needed to do something special. FC Barcelona needed to come back from four goals down after losing 4-0 to PSG in Paris in the first leg of the round of 16 back on Feb. 14. On Mar. 8 in the second leg, Barcelona dug themselves out of the hole in incredible fashion, winning at home 6-1, giving the squad a 6-5 win on aggregate and completing the greatest comeback in Champions League history.
 Barcelona stayed calm, both head coach Luis Enrique and the players. Before the second leg, Enrique said: “We have to be optimistic and we are.” Andres Iniesta said the team “must believe” and that they could cause the French side problems in the second leg. The team remained positive and didn’t lose their composure.
 Barcelona started the game off brilliantly as Luis Suarez scored a goal in just the 3rd minute. Then, near the end of the first half, in the 40th minute, Iniesta got a touch on a ball from Suarez in a dangerous area, sending it across the face of goal. The ball then deflected off PSG defender Layvin Kurzawa and into the goal for an own goal. With a 2-0 halftime lead, Barcelona was still down 4-2 on aggregate. In the 50th minute, Neymar was taken down in the box by a tumbling PSG defender, and then Lionel Messi buried the penalty kick, putting Barcelona up 3-0 and within a goal on aggregate.
 However, the Spanish club suffered a setback in their comeback quest when Edinson Cavani struck for PSG in the 62nd minute. This was vital, because it gave PSG an away goal, so a tie on aggregate would put PSG through to the next round. Barca went from needing one goal to tie it to needing three goals to avoid being knocked out of the competition.
 Time kept ticking and seemingly running out on Barcelona until Neymar’s free kick goal in the 88th minute gave the team another glimmer of hope. The match reached the 90th minute and the signal went up for five added minutes of stoppage time. Another penalty was given for Barcelona in the 91st minute after Suarez went to ground in the box, and things got really interesting as Neymar finished.
 At this point with a 5-5 tie on aggregate, PSG would have gone through with the away goal. So Barcelona, in a tense last few minutes, kept pushing, trying to provide one more touch of brilliance. Desperate, they pushed everyone forward, sending goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen upfield for a free-kick. On the free-kick the ball was headed out of the box but right back to Neymar, who chipped another floating ball that Sergi Roberto got on the end of and volleyed home with the outside of the foot. This 95th minute goal put Barcelona up 6-1 in the game and 6-5 on aggregate, and it sent the Camp Nou into a frenzy. Fans went wild, the players celebrated, and Luis Enrique ran around in joy.

 Just seconds after PSG resumed play, the referee blew his whistle. Four goals down. Then needing three goals in seven minutes. Barcelona did it. It was the end to a euphoric, historic comeback on a magical night at the Camp Nou.