Here are the editors choices for the best Sports Stories of the 2018 – 2019 School Year.
Women’s World Cup in One Month
By: Brooke Bandy
The FIFA World Cup is the ultimate tournament for international teams to compete to be the best in the world. Groups have been picked, teams have prepared, rosters have been released, and all eyes are watching.
Group A: France, Korea, Norway, Nigeria
Group B: Germany, China, Spain, South Africa
Group C: Australia, Italy, Brazil, Jamaica
Group D: England, Scotland, Argentina, Japan
Group E: Canada, Cameroon, New Zealand, Netherlands
Group F: USA, Thailand,Chile, Sweden
Women’s soccer has become extremely competitive within the past decade and continues to improve and change. Teams who were underdogs in the 2015 World Cup are now being looked at as potential threats and teams to watch out for.
The powerhouse teams are pretty spread out among the groups, about two per group. A major powerhouse match is going to be Sweden vs. United States. These two have met in the past and are one of the biggest competitors in the tournament. During the 2016 Olympics, the two teams met during the quarterfinals, knocking the US out of the tournament. It’s been a haunting memory in the minds of the USWNT and now they’re coming back for revenge.
In the 2015 World Cup, England and Japan met in a faceoff to see who would advance to the championship. In a wild game, Japan beat England due to an own goal in overtime. This advanced Japan to the championship to face the US in a rematch for the 2011 World Cup in which the States lost to Japan.
Making a World Cup roster means a lot to all of the players. For United States defender, Becky Sauerbrunn, she feels it is a great honor to be on the team. “I’m so incredibly honored to be selected for this World Cup roster. This is a talented, gritty and resilient team. I’m proud to be a part of this group of amazing women and hopefully we can bring back another world championship,”
Predictions have been placed on who has the best chance at winning. The United States has 2-1 odds, which are especially high for winning a back to back World Cup title. The host country, France, is predicted to be their biggest competitor, trailing at 7-2 odds. Since 2014, the US has won 4 games against France tied 2, and lost 3.
The team brought back a key player from 2015, who hasn’t played internationally since 2016: Ali Krieger. It seems as though the United States is going to fight with every ounce of strength to get a back to back title.
The tournament starts on June 7 and continues until July 7 in the host country, France.
High School Softball is Cancelled 😦
By: Kelsey Wiley
As spring sports tryouts are begin, interest in each sport raises, but the biggest problem that occured with the upcoming season is there is no team this year. Tryouts for softball were cancelled due to the lack of interest from the students, which in the end cause the season to not happen.
Mr. Joyce, the athletic director gave his input about the season being cancelled. “There was a lack of interest and a lack of participation. We thought it would be in best interest to pull the season, because we didn’t want to pull people to try and play if they had no interest in it.”
With the season being cancelled it also meant that all the games had to be cancelled with the other schools. Luckily it didn’t cost the school any fees for it.
“The main issue for the season being cancelled was because there was a lack of interest and we wanted to have a set number of 12 for the team,” shared Joyce.
Mr. Lebrecht, the assistant coach for high school softball was very disappointed about the season being cancelled.
“I enjoy coaching softball and had a good time last year, which had me really looking forward to this year,” said Lebrecht.
“I think the reason we didn’t have enough players is because we didn’t have enough interest and softball is one of the sports where you have to have unique skills to play.”
There is a hope that in the future the school might have a field, but it’s only a possibility right now.
“We want fields, but they are expensive to build, and to make them playable, it takes time. We have to be able to have the money and time for construction to make it happen,”
Ms. Fisher, Head Coach for high school softball was also dismayed about not having a softball season.
“I hate it for the girls and especially for the ones that really wanted to play this year.”
She thought there would be enough people to play this year, “I didn’t expect this because I was hoping we would have enough people with holding the interest meeting and also sending out the email.” Shared Fisher
Coach Fisher wasn’t too sure as to why some of the girls didn’t want to play, “I don’t know if it was academic became first priority for the girls or if they didn’t have time to play this year.”
Aubrey Harmon, a junior at NCLA who played third base for the team will now only have one year left to play High School Softball.
“I wish it hadn’t been cancelled, it was the one sport I was looking forward to the most. Although with the lack of interest it was inevitable.”
“I found out that since there is no softball team, girls are able to tryout for baseball.
It’s a little late now due to the fact tryouts are over, I most likely play for my old league.
I tried to recruit people this year but only got one person. It was hard due to many people lacking interest.”
Courtney Floyd a Junior at NCLA who played first base was sad about the season being cancelled.
“I was actually really looking forward to it and wanting to watch us grow as a team this year, especially since it was my junior year I really wanted a team all I have is next year to play a sport that I’ve been playing since t-ball years.”
Floyd will be joining Harmon on the other diamond this season.
“My back up plan was to try out for golf which I was excited to try something new. As of yesterday I was actually asked to tryout for baseball so as crazy as it seems I am on the baseball team.”
Floyd is planning on convincing some people to play next year for sure.
“I’m definitely planning on convincing enough people to play next year so we can have a team. Especially with it being my senior year next year I would do anything to have a team.”
It was very obvious how upset is the girls and the coaches were about not having a season, but this also gives them a chance to bounce back next year, and make a strong improvement
Duke University Basketball
By: James Wilson
Duke University has one of the most highly touted college rosters since the “Fab Five”. Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett are the two-man wrecking crew that has, so far, yet to disappoint.
In the 2018 recruiting season Duke was able to recruit the 1st , 2nd and 4th ranked high school players nationally, all of these players were ranked first at their position.
RJ Barrett and Zion Williamson have definitely delivered upon their potential, Cam Reddish seems to be the odd one out.
Although the drop off in performance makes Reddish seem like an underperformer, it’s not entirely his fault, ranking doesn’t ever end up exactly right as to who is the greatest high school player.
Although Duke is having a hot start right now, the highest ranked team they have played is Gonzaga, who is ranked 5th, and beat them 87-89. At the time of writing the highest ranked team they have beat is No. 8 Texas Tech.
Duke’s schedule is also not one that is very challenging at all. They will play teams that have underperformed in previous seasons.
It was almost a surprise that Syracuse beat Duke on Jan 14. The only reason I am not surprised is because of how Syracuse and Duke put together their teams.
Syracuse retained Tyus Battle who is now very good in Boeheim’s system. Duke has 2-3 guys who do most of the scoring while the rebounding is spread out more evenly, Syracuse however evens out all of the load and don’t put too much pressure on any one guy.
In the Duke vs. Syracuse game Duke had a 35 point game from Zion, a 23 point game from R.J Barrett and their next highest scorers were 16 and 12 point performance O’Connell and Bolden respectively.
Duke played “Hero ball” and Syracuse played team basketball. Syracuse was the better team that night. It’s no doubt that Coach K believes in his team and their chances. This was a great learning opportunity. You can learn much more from a loss than a string of wins. Duke has to be better now and constantly improve on their title run.
The question on many people’s mind is how long will this college dominance last? They will eventually have to leave and considering how both Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett projected to go in the top 5 in the NBA Draft. It’s safe to say that Coach K’s window is short and they have to make a run at the title this year.
Have you ever watched shows like “World of Dance” or “So You Think You Can Dance?” and wondered how these amazing dancers got their start?
Dancing and competing at a high level takes a lot of passion, as well as close bonds with teammates, which seem to be the best parts about the sport.
“My favorite part about dancing competitively would be being able to dance on a stage with my closest friends, as well as being able to perform for my family,” said Junior Julia Nolen.
“The excitement before I go on stage and the environment, everyone is really nice,” said sixth grader Addison Bandy.
Dancers put in hundreds of hours of hard work to get routines ready for the stage. Dancers go through many hardships to ensure that their routines look neary perfect when they step onto the stage. Some of the hardest things they do are picking apart the routines for hours on end.
“The long hours of continuous dance would be the hardest part for me,” said Nolen.
“The hardest part is when we’re cleaning the routines, so making sure dances are good before we go on stage so that we all know what we’re doing and make everything sharper,” said Bandy
The dance industry is tough both mentally and physically and it takes a lot of strength to stick to it for long periods of time.
“Don’t give up and never stop chasing your dreams!” said Nolen.
“Be confident in what you’re doing, and you just have to believe in yourself. You can make it hard or you can make it easy for yourself,” said Bandy.
Dance is something that bonds people together unlike any other sport and stays with the dancers for the rest of their lives.
“My favorite memory of dance would have to be the first time I ever competed. I was very nervous and cried but as soon as I stepped on stage, all of the nerves went away. I will never forget that feeling,” said Nolen.
“Florida nationals a few years ago because it was a lot of fun and the older dancers were really nice,” said Bandy, “Also going to my first finals and winning,”
Dance is a sport that is extremely competitive, but brings people from so many backgrounds together to bond over something they are passionate about, while giving them a place to express themselves through movements and music.
NBA Playoffs in 2019
By: James Wilson
The NBA playoffs, while not being entirely fresh, is about as new as it’s been since Miami and San Antonio ran their conferences. The NBA playoffs are actually entertaining this year – funnily enough in the Western conference – and it’s hard to tell how long each series will last. The East is indubitably more interesting than the West this year and that’s possibly because of Lebron James not being there. There is now a power vacuum in the East and someone has to go every year to get beat up by Golden State.
The Milwaukee Bucks easily put down the Detroit Pistons in four games. Detroit had no chance of winning even one game in this series. Even with Blake Griffin, the Bucks would have had four quick games.
The Boston Celtics and Indiana Pacers series was actually interesting considering the sweep. Boston took advantage of the Pacers lack of Oladipo and lack of effort from all the other guys. Kyrie Irving averaged 22.5 points while shooting a red hot 42% from the field. It is important that Kyrie has a hot hand in the upcoming series against Milwaukee. The Bucks have more talent, but the Celtics have more experience and that could make or break the Celtics postseason run.
Toronto is the oddball in the Eastern conference because the team is relatively new and is made up of players with extremely varied playoff experiences. Kawhi Leonard, the leader of the team, is a NBA Finals MVP. Kyle Lowry has had an uneventful playoff career but has still been there. Jeremy Lin has been in the playoffs and most recently took the Miami Heat to 7 games while he played in Charlotte. These guys are all good individual players. But it really is hard to tell how this team will play together as tensions rise. Nick Nurse is a rookie head coach who did a great job, but he had Kawhi Leonard on his team and it’s hard to tell how much effect he has had rather than the talent on the team. Toronto definitely has a chance to make the Finals and it will be interesting to see how (if at all) Kawhi Leonard guards Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The Philadelphia 76ers are great because Philly has been the team I love to hate for the past three years. I have written negative things about their faux-point guard in the past and my opinion has not changed. It is up to Ben Simmons and his “positionless play” that can change the future of the 76ers. Simmons has been a problem in the playoffs for his entire career. While I do believe that not every NBA player needs to be able to shoot three pointers, I think if you are a 6’10 guy who wants to play point guard you need more skills than getting assists. Simmons cannot stretch the floor, which means containing Joel Embiid gets easier in the playoffs. He cannot draw a foul in crunch time without Brett Brown biting his nails as to whether he will make the free throws. Simmons shot worse at the charity stripe than Shaquille O’Neal did in his best year. Ben Simmons, aside from assists, has no traits synonymous with the Point Guard position. So why is it that he plays that position? It is kind of obvious – it’s because Ben Simmons chose to bully players much smaller than him to get inside and score rather than develop and actually play his true position. Simmons can score the basketball and he can get passes. So why are the media still acting as if he is the next coming of Lebron James? He is overhyped and a perfect example of Philadelphia’s draft ideology during the process, “Draft the best player possible, you can always trade him.” Michael Carter-Williams, Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, Jerami Grant; all of these names are victims of the Philadelphia 76ers process that, for better or for worse, gave them this playoff run. Philadelphia being fast and loose with their draft picks has caused them to be about 75% as good as they could have been.
The NBA playoffs in the West are all about the Warriors and Rockets. The top two teams, however, will face each other in the second round. The Warriors are, for now, the best team in the West. It will take no less than six games for the Warriors to win. It’s clear that Harden will average a very inefficient 30 plus points in this series, but to be honest, without over analyzing, there is not much to discuss in this series.
The Finals will most likely see Golden State winning their fourth title in five years. Between the Raptors and Bucks in the ECF, I favor the Raptors because it should Toronto’s goal to shoot Milwaukee out of the game. The Raptors are the best match for Golden State from the East but they obviously won’t be enough. I could see Steph Curry trying to win Finals MVP as this has started to become a blemish on his legacy.
Watching players tendencies like Kevin Durant in Game 2 against the Clippers could mean we’re looking at his final run with the Warriors. It would make sense for Durant to pursue playing somewhere else he has said he doesn’t feel like he needs to be somewhere forever. As a player who cares about his legacy it would be beneficial to Durant to join a historic team with a huge fan base like the New York Knicks. If not the Knicks the Bulls and Lakers could mean business for his legacy. This could be his last contract in the NBA and he will definitely try to lockdown his legacy. He cares about people think of him, and I’m sure he will factor the public reception in his choice. For Durant winning and having playoff runs in the east to secure his legacy.
As far as the NBA playoffs are concerned this is the same thing, new year. There is however a lot riding on the free agents in this years playoffs. This year is a definite watch and hopefully after the 2019 free agency, parity will return to the league.
Bio from the Editor
James Wilson was the Sports Editor for the 2018- 2019 school year. James seeks a career in Sports Journalism. James plans to attend Forsyth Tech and then WSSU to get a degree in Communications. Wilson’s goal is to write / broadcast for the NBA. James Wilson is an avid Charlotte Hornets fan and amateur NBA Analyst, Sports Journalism will give James the chance to get paid for ultimate hobby, screaming about and over analyzing the NBA.