Girls basketball ends season

BY ZOE BIRGER

The girls basketball team ended its season with a 17-8 overall record. The girls lost the district championship 54-53 to Deerfield Beach High.

USECoach Scott Selvidge said this season was not as successful as he’d hoped but it was a good experience.

“I had a great experience with the girls. I got to spend lots of time with them and making them better basketball players,” he said.

In the last game of the season against Deerfield Beach, senior Jessica Lazano tore her ACL during the first quarter.

“Unfortunately, in that last game one of my best players tore her ACL, which hurt us a little bit, but the girls worked hard,” Coach Selvidge said.

Lazano was heartbroken after tearing her ACL and wishes she could’ve finished the game.

“I was really excited to play in our championships game and I was so angry when I tore my ACL,” Lazano said. “The feelings I got, mentally and physically, I never want to feel again.”

Senior Lauren Aleman said she played her hardest this season and is proud of her teammates.

“This was the best season that I’ve played and I think all the other girls played well too,” she said. “I wish this year wasn’t ending so soon and I really hope that the girls next year will get really far.”

Her sister Ali Aleman, who is a junior, played alongside her sister this year and plans to play next year.

“Basketball is a sport like no other and I love playing it,” Ali said. “I hope next year I can go to the championships again, just like my sister did in her senior year.”

Coach Selvidge said he is eager to prepare for next season and wishes for a more successful season next year.

“We’ve got some work to do in the off season and we’ll begin that in the very near future in preparation for next year,” he said.

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Junior succeeds in varsity sports throughout high school

BY ALY ORRIMG_8484

As Carla Daza sprints the 300-meter race, jumping over the tall hurdles, she has a huge smile on her face, as she’s doing what she loves.

Daza’s running career started in sixth grade when she joined her middle school track team. Currently, she is a member of the girls varsity track and soccer teams, as well as the Weston FC travel soccer team.

Her talents on the track have grown throughout her high school career.

Daza holds the school record for the 300-meter hurdles at 46.4 seconds. She continues to work at this race to improve her time even more.

“It’s a hard sport that anyone can do, but not everyone does because of its difficulty and the hard work and commitment you have to put in,” Daza said. “I love it because it is competitive and exciting. You have to continue to work every single day.”

Success keeps her motivated to continuing working hard.

“Holding the school record just keeps me on my toes every season,” Daza said. “It makes me want to work harder and make sure I can keep my record. I am going to try to beat my own record this season, and I am very excited to see if my hard work has payed off.”

Last year, the track team took the district championship title with Daza placing fifth all around for the 300-meter hurdles.

“The first four fastest times made it to states last year, and the fact that I got fifth place by .02 seconds behind really pushes me to work 10 times harder than my competition because I really would love to go to states this year,” she said.

IMG_8482Daza also plays soccer for the Weston FC competitive team. She plans her time out so she can play both the sports she loves. She said soccer has helped her in track by increasing her endurance and speed.

Junior Vanesa Alvarez, who plays soccer and runs track with Daza, said she looks up to Daza very much because of all the hard work she puts into training.

“Carla practices every day, the most she can do before she passes out,” Alvarez said. “The coaches push her very hard and she keeps up with them very well. Carla goes straight from track practice to soccer practice and I really have no idea how she does it.”

Daza practices about three hours every day. She said Coach Marquise Twan helps her with drills for all events ranging from the 100-meter to the 400-meter dash.

“Twan pushes me to try my best at every point on the track. Sometimes he even pushes me too hard, but I know that at the end of the day it is just going to make me better,” Daza said.

Coach Twan said he is aiming to make Daza great enough at track to get into her dream school, Harvard. She plans on playing track in college and said it is her ideal wish.

“Carla is an amazing girl. She is an all around hard worker. I know she will excel majorly this season and I love watching her do it. I know she will get scholarships, many of them. It’s up to her which one she wants to choose,” said Coach Twan, who is very excited to see how this season goes for her.

“Running for Harvard as been my dream since I was 11 years old,” Daza said. “That would be a dream come true.”

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South Florida football players continue national recruitment

BY JAKE FUHRMAN

It is no surprise that at most high school football games in South Florida a college scout can be spotted somewhere in the crowd. Coaches are always trying to sneak some famous South Florida speed, strength, and raw ability into their squads.

In the 1980s, Howard Schnellenberger became the head coach of the University of Miami and brought success to the program by focusing his recruiting on an area he called “The State of Miami.” From Palm Beach down to Key West was the most raw talent. This geographic area is still the hub of natural ability and top recruits in the country.

Take a gaze through the ESPN 300 (Top 300 recruits in the country) and the screen is filled with prospects from local powerhouses such as American Heritage (Plantation), St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale), Miami Central, Booker T. Washington (Miami), and more.

Quarterback Jake Nudelberg of Cypress Bay’s varsity team started this past season against St. Thomas, which had over 10 seniors going on to play Division 1 football.

“Playing against those athletes was one of the toughest games of my life, but I took it as a learning experience,” Nudelberg said.

The difference between the original “State of Miami” and the current one is that teams beyond the state of Florida have now also discovered this talent and try to pick out the local talent. Reigning National Champion, Ohio State, has already secured the commitment of the No. 1 recruit from South Florida, Torrance Gibson of American Heritage. Also, the star defensive lineman of Ohio State, junior Joey Bosa, graduated from St. Thomas.

Top recruits from South Florida may grow up in poverty-stricken neighborhoods such as Overtown and Liberty City, so players see scholarships as a way out of the areas with high crime rates and poor quality living.

Chris Leible, a sports agent from New York, has been studying college recruits, and has been a lifetime University of Miami football fan.

“The fact of the matter is that football in the state of Florida is different, and students are looking for different opportunities,” said Mr. Leible in a phone interview with The Circuit. “Florida State, Miami, and Florida all have to impress these recruits every week, and Florida State has recently been impressive, thus receiving most of the South Florida recruits.”

Even FSU, a school that has been dominating college football recently, has struggled to pick up some of these Floridian recruits. According to the ESPN 300, the No. 1 rated defensive back from Florida for the 2015 class has committed to LSU and the No. 1 wide receiver has committed to Alabama.

In 2002, the Miami Hurricanes had 11 players go in the first round of the NFL draft, six of which were from South Florida. Since 2013, the ‘Canes have had five players drafted total.

As the South Florida talent remains abundant, colleges take notice of the ability and try to take advantage. Athletes have been choosing to venture to opportunities where they can be showcased on a national stage and they will be surrounded with talent similar to theirs.

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Boys tennis team on the road to states

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BY MICHELLE EISENBERG

The boys tennis team started off its season undefeated, winning its first four matches against St. Thomas, American Heritage, Sagemont, and Cooper City. The most recent match took place Feb. 24 at home against Cooper City.

“I’m really proud that the boys started off the season strong,” Coach Vincent Grossi said. “Its always nice for us to beat a school like St. Thomas because they have a really strong team, and they definitely have the potential to go far this season.”

Coach Grossi said he has set high expectations for the team this year.

“I want to see the team work together and do the best they can in every match,” he said. “The ultimate goal is to become state champions as we have done in the past, but we’re going to do the best we can.”

In order to make states, the team must win districts, which will he held March 30-31, and regionals which will be held April 7 and 9. Each of the players must first play at least four matches in the regular season. Coach Grossi said the boys will have a lot of competition this season.

“Every team is good and every team wants the same thing, so the boys are just going to have to work extremely hard to win every match and treat every match like it’s the finals,” he said.

Last year, the boys won second place at the state competition in Orlando. Coach Grossi said there were a few matches that could have gone either way, which unfortunately cost them the first place title.

“I don’t think they need motivation because they’re very driven group of kids,” he said. “They know what they want, and I know they’ll do whatever they can to get it.”

Senior Christopher Kougoucheff said he is looking forward to the rest of the season and hopes to claim the state title. He said the team is very motivated for this season.

“We have a really strong team, with a bunch of seniors, so I think we can definitely win states,” Kougoucheff said.

Sophomore Rodrigo Moreno said he is hoping to get a starting position, but he is willing to do whatever he needs to in order to help the team in the greatest way possible.

“It’s really competitive with all of the seniors on the team,” Moreno said. “Even if I don’t get to start, it’s still a privilege to be part of this team.”

Senior Scott Plutt said he is excited to be competing in his final season for the team.

“It’s sad that it’s my last season because I’ve been on the tennis team all four years of high school, but I’m excited to see what this season has in store for us,” Plutt said.

Plutt will be attending Bryant University in Rhode Island in the fall with his twin brother Michael, who is also on the team. Both will play tennis in college. He said he hopes to end his high school tennis career strong.

“I’m really excited for college, but I want finish my time here first,” Plutt said. “Winning states would be the cherry on top to a great senior year.”

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Lightning beats Cooper City in district opener

Lightning beats Cooper City in district opener

BY JAKE LENDER & JEREMY JACKSON

The baseball team (3-2) took on the Cooper City Cowboys (2-2) in its district opener on Feb. 19. The Lightning beat the Cowboys 3-0. Pitcher Luis Sucre pitched a complete game shutout for Cypress Bay after striking out 11 batters and giving up six hits over seven innings.

“Anytime you have a good game on the mound it feels good,” said Sucre, a senior. “It helps build confidence not only within you but with your teammates.”

This was the first district game of the season for the Lightning as they look to repeat as district champions.

“Winning gives us a lot of confidence and feeds our hunger and the desire for another district championship,” first baseman Alex Valladares said.

After each game he pitches, Sucre needs to immediately start his recovery. Pitching for seven innings puts a lot of stress on his throwing arm, so it is important to rest it in order to be available to pitch in the next game.

“I ice my arm for about 15-20 minutes after the game,” he said. “On my second and fourth recovery days I go into the bullpen and throw for a little bit.”

The game took place on one of the coldest nights of the year as the temperatures dipped into the 40s. Valladares, a senior, said that even though the cold was a factor during warm up eventually the players just learned to deal with it.

“At first it was hard to get used to it, so we were playing tight,” he said. “Thankfully, Coach Liotti had warned us about the cold and made sure we were well prepared for it.”

The Lightning played well on the defensive end as the boys didn’t commit any errors.

“We really wanted to win this game for each other and especially for the fans that came out to show their support for us,” center fielder Joey Rodriguez said.

Several players on the team have pregame rituals. Before every game Sucre eats a bag of Skittles just to mentally prepare himself.

The Lightning’s second district matchup will be at Piper High School (6-1) on Feb. 26.

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Storify: Superbowl Sunday scores big on social media

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Lacrosse team looks forward to season opener

BY COLEMAN NELSON

The varsity boys lacrosse team graduated five seniors from last year’s 2014 District 3A championship team, however, this has not discouraged the team from having high expectations. The team’s first game is Feb. 10 against district opponent West Broward.

“This year our goal is to win districts, regionals and then ultimately states,” senior Ryan Morris said.

After winning the 2014 district championship, the Lightning lost in the regional finals against St. Thomas. This year the goal is to go all the way and get redemption by beating St. Thomas.

“I believe that everyone wants to beat St. Thomas this year. It was such a tough loss for us and we want to get back and beat them this year,” senior Dylan Garber said. “I think that we have a good chance of going undefeated this season and win districts.”

Even with the loss of five seniors, everyone on this year’s team believes they can still be successful and have a winning season.

“Losing the five seniors was definitely a big loss, but we have a lot of returning players and young talent to make up for it,” Morris said.

The team has been working hard during the offseason by training and practicing in order for them to be ready.

“During the offseason we did a lot of conditioning with our fall team,” junior Anthony Turi said. “Hopefully this will help us not get tired by the fourth quarter, so we can get the job done.”

Some of the players even took extra steps to be prepared for the season when they weren’t practicing with the other players.

“I was practicing on my own during the offseason, which I think will help me a lot,” sophomore Nick Countryman said.

The boys believe that they will have no problem being prepared for each of game and are ready to win thanks to the hard work put in by Coach Geoff Swinerton.

“I am positive that Coach Geoff will prepare us for the season. He’s the best coach I could ask for, and one of the best coaches I’ve ever had. He works us hard while encouraging us every step of the way,” Garber said.

Playing as a unit that works together and in sync will be the Lightning’s secret weapon this year.

“Our team is definitely close. We hang out on the weekends and are pretty much a big family. It’s not just a team, it’s more than that,” Turi said.

 

 

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Boys cross-country team competes at states

BY JULIA BRILLIANT AND RACHEL GUTNER

The boys cross-country team won the title of district champions and then went to the state competition in Tallahassee Nov. 11-15 where they placed 22nd in the state.

The team went to Apalachee Regional Park in Tallahassee during the weekend of Nov. 11-15 to participate in states after waiting for this spot for eight years. Coach Joe Monks said that the team’s drought was finally over. Senior Cullen Harper agreed.

“It’s really cool to break a streak like that,” Harper said.

Harper said there were three runners with a time in the 16’s, including him, and four team members close behind them in the 18’s. Junior Thomas Morin was please with the outcome.

“It feels good knowing my training paid off but it feels even better knowing I have a great team that has my back,” Morin said.

Morin said that the cross-country team has a very tight bond and that’s important.

“It wouldn’t have been done without the whole team working together at regionals and getting us the spot,” Morin said.

 

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Girls varsity soccer team still undefeated

Girls varsity soccer team still undefeated

BY JAKE LENDER AND TORI REISER

The girls varsity soccer team won its last two games, at Cooper City on Dec. 3 and at Nova High on Dec. 4. This brings their record to 12-0.

Against the Cowboys the Lightning had a 3-0 shutout, with Nova also being a shutout with a 6-0 score.

“We have a good chance of making it to the district finals because we have beaten the two teams we needed to beat in order to advance,” said center back Katie Slattery.

Defender Marivi Daza said the team has been playing exceptionally well.

“I’m pretty confident we are able to make it to district finals because we have a lot of talented players. Our goal in the season is to go 14-0,” she said, including wanting to beat their toughest opponent, St. Thomas.

Daza spoke about the Cooper City game.

“We made several mistakes on connecting passes and keeping the ball, but by halftime we were able to settle the ball and control the game,” said the junior.

Slattery, also a junior, said even though she played well, she still wants to work on specific areas to benefit her and the team.

Daza said the team has different strategies preparing for the game, mentally and physically. Listening to music is a way the team gets mentally ready for the game.

“In the locker room before the game, mostly everyone has headphones in their ears or one person brings a speaker and we all listen to it,” she said.

Slattery said the team talks about what they need to work on in practice, so they can apply it in games and tournaments.

“Physically, we practice hard and compete with one another in practice. And mentally, we listen to the coach and our teammates talk about the plays we’re running and how to help one another,” Slattery said.

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Girls cross country nears end of season

Girls cross country nears end of season

BY CAMILA ZIADI

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The girls cross country team placed second at the district competition on Oct. 29 after they lost to Cooper City High by two points. On Nov. 5, the team competed in regionals at Larry &Penny Thompson Park and got eighth place overall.

“I am proud of our results, though we wanted to win the title of district champions,” said Shivani Dalal, co-captain of the team. “We did amazing considering that we lost majority of our varsity runners from last year and have many new runners on the team this year.”

At districts, Cypress Bay had the most girls representing the top 15 district runners. Senior Carolina Garcia got a new personal record of 22:53, almost a whole minute improvement from her previous record of 23:49. Garcia got seventh place overall.

“I am very proud of the results,” Garcia said. “Even though we lost the first place title by a couple of points, the girls definitely gave it their all and that’s all I could ask for.”

At the regional competition, the girls team got eighth place, but only the top six schools qualified for states. However, individual runners may qualify for states, and Dalal qualified by getting 12th place.

“Words cannot explain how proud I am of our achievements,” she said. “I’m going to continue to work hard so that I can do my very best at states.”

Garcia also had comments about Dalal’s achievements.

“Shivani did absolutely amazing,” she said. “She really knows how to push herself and how to get to where she wants to be. I’m so proud of her.”

 

 

 

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