NBA finals preview

Current minority owner Mark Cuban celebrates with the Mavericks’ bench during game six of the 2011 NBA finals against the Miami Heat. 2011 was the last time the Dallas Mavericks were in the NBA finals. PHOTO COURTESY OF DANNY BOLLINGER / FLICKR

Ben Staker
Sports Editor

The NBA Finals matchup is now set with the Dallas Mavericks taking on the Boston Celtics. For the Mavericks, this will be their first finals appearance since they beat the Miami Heat in 2011. As for the Celtics, they’ll be returning to the finals for the second time in three years.

Coming into this series, there are still many interesting storylines to be concluded. Will Kyrie Irving beat his former team in the finals?  Will Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown finally get over the hump and bring home a championship? Or will the Mavericks role players continue their hot streak? There’s a lot riding on this series for both sides as the NBA looks to crown their sixth different champion in as many years.

To get here, both teams had very different stories. The Celtics ran the Eastern Conference and finished with a record of 64-18 and the conference’s number one seed. They carried their regular season success into the playoffs by defeating the Heat and Cavaliers in five games each, as well as an Eastern Conference Finals sweep of the Indiana Pacers. After amassing an impressive 12-2 record in the first three rounds of the playoffs they’ll enter the finals as the favorites.

In the Dallas Mavericks case, they have had a different road. They finished the regular season with a 50-32 record, which earned them the Western Conference’s number five seed. They defeated the Clippers and number one-seeded Thunder in six games and the Minnesota Timberwolves in five games. The team didn’t have the luxury of home-court advantage in any playoff series they’ve played so far, and that won’t change for the finals. 

These teams match up well against each other. Despite the narratives you might hear coming into the series, Tatum and Brown will show up in the big moments. Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving have already proved they can rise to the occasion for the Mavericks. I think this series will come down to which team can get a signature game from one of their role players.

As of late, P.J. Washington and Daniel Gafford have been able to complement Doncic and Irving. If they’re able to keep this good string of basketball going they can beat the Celtics. However, players like Derrick White, Jrue Holiday, or even Al Horford can have that same kind of impact on the Celtics. Whichever team can get the most out of their depth players will win the series.

I like the Mavericks’ depth more than the Celtics, so I’m picking them for the series in seven games.

Game one of the NBA Finals is set to tip off on Thursday, June 6 at 8:30 p.m.

PWHL Minnesota becomes the first team to win the Walter Cup

PWHL Minnesota leaves the ice after their win against PWHL Montreal on Jan. 6, 2024. PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Katelyn Auty
Head Copy Editor
Social Media Editor
Associate Sports Editor

Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) Minnesota has made history as the first team to hoist the Walter Cup. After an action-packed inaugural season, it all came down to a winner-takes-all game at the Tsongas Center in Massachusetts, PWHL Boston’s home stadium. After a hard-fought series, Minnesota ultimately became the first to win the Walter Cup after beating Boston 3-0.

The first period was uneventful, with no goals from either team. Minnesota forward Liz Schepers opened the scoring in the second period with her first-ever PWHL goal, putting Minnesota on the board and giving them a 1-0 lead. The third period saw a goal from Minnesota forward Michela Cava, bringing the score to 2-0. Kendall Coyne Schofield, captain of PWHL Minnesota, scored an empty-netter with just two minutes left in the game, sealing their victory and shutting out Boston. 

Directly following the game was the presentation ceremony for the Ilana Kloss Playoff MVP Award and, of course, the Walter Cup. Presented by Ilana Kloss herself, Taylor Heise was named the Ilana Kloss Playoff MVP. The Walter family and Billie Jean King, former number one tennis player and champion for women’s sports, presented the Walter Cup to Minnesota captain Kendall Coyne Schofield.

“This is the new pinnacle of women’s hockey and to be on top is the best feeling in the world and to be on top with this group is extremely special,” shared Coyne Schofield after the ceremony. 

Although the season is over, there are many exciting things for PWHL fans to look forward to in the coming months. The PWHL has announced that the second annual draft will take place on June 10 at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium in Saint Paul, Minnesota. It has also been announced that team names and logos for the six teams will be introduced in August of this year.

Overall, this inaugural season has paved the way for what will hopefully be a very successful league. This may be the end of the inaugural season, but this is just the beginning for the PWHL. 

The Savannah Bananas: the greatest show in baseball

Jacob Toran
Staff Writer

Baseball is known as America’s favorite pastime. However, many Americans would disagree. With attention spans decreasing every day, and the lengthiness of the game, the sport could use a little more entertainment factor. Enter “Banana Ball.”

Banana Ball is a new type of baseball being played by the Savannah Bananas, a fairly new club out of Georgia that began as a collegiate summer baseball team. This team is not part of the MLB, or any league for that matter; think of them more as an exhibition team, providing a fast-paced, entertaining game for anyone who would like to watch.

Recently, the Bananas have taken the country by storm, selling out every stadium they visit, small and large. To understand why this is happening, we must first understand what Banana Ball actually is. 

Jesse Cole, owner of the Savannah Bananas, is the mastermind behind the show. He wanted a baseball game that would hold fans’ attention while entertaining them as well.

“Why don’t we have dancing players, a banana band, a break-dancing coach, a senior citizen dance team, the Banana Nanas,” says Cole. “Think about all the things that are long and slow with baseball and try to make it entertaining.”

Cole decided to combine one of the most popular sports in the United States with his own entertaining twist. He created a show based on the style of some of his favorite entertainers.

“I’ve taken tons of inspiration from Walt Disney and P.T. Barnum, Cirque du Soleil, and ‘Saturday Night Live,’” says Cole. “What the greatest entertainers do is they put themselves in their fans’ shoes.”

Banana Ball’s main focus is on entertaining its fan base. At first glance, when tuning into one of their games, it may look like a regular baseball game. That is, until the players start dancing on the field.

“Whenever we score a run or somebody hits a double or somebody hits a home run, we’re ready to roll those [dances] out,” says Kyle Luigs, a pitcher for the Bananas. “We work very closely with our entertainment team as well as our creative team.”

The hard work that everybody on the team does to both play an actual baseball game and coordinate the dances really pays off. 

“Practice-wise, about half our practice looks the same as a normal baseball practice and then the other half is wildly different,” says the head coach of the Bananas, Tyler Gillum. “We got guys on stilts, we are practicing balancing bats, we’re juggling. We have a trampoline that stays on the field. Our guys are always working on acrobatics.”

Entertainment like this has never been seen before in baseball, and because of that and their outreach to social media, the Savannah Bananas have gotten tremendous attention. With their TikTok account racking up millions of views and news stations across the country reporting on them, almost everyone has heard of this team.

“Right now, we have two million people on our waitlist to get tickets, but we only have one million tickets available,” says Gillum.

With reaching more and more people by the minute, the players are excited to make an impact on as many fans as possible.

“My favorite part about [Banana Ball] is that it has an impact on the next generation of baseball players,” says Luigs. “I enjoy continuing to push that boundary of what can you do in front of a live audience that they’ve never seen before and that’s gonna be all the rave they wanna talk about long after the game’s played.”

With the addition of games at six major league ballparks this season, along with a Banana Ball cruise, Bananaland at Sea, in October, and the hopes of eventually taking the game overseas, Cole hopes to continue entertaining fans for years to come.

The battle for the Stanley Cup begins

Alex Ovechkin prepares for a Stanley Cup playoff game. PHOTO COURTESY OF CLYDE / FLICKR

Katelyn Auty
Head Copy Editor
Social Media Editor

The 2024 Stanley Cup playoffs officially began on Saturday, April 20. There are still so many questions left unanswered. Can the Vegas Golden Knights win for the second year in a row? Will the New York Rangers break the Presidents’ Trophy curse? No matter what happens, this postseason is certainly shaping up to be full of fascinating stories. 

First round: Eastern Conference

Florida Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
Game 1: 3-2 Panthers
Game 2: 3-2 Panthers
Game 3: April 25, 7 p.m.
Game 4: April 27, 5 p.m.
Game 5: April 29, 1 p.m. (if needed)
Game 6: May 1, 1 p.m. (if needed)
Game 7: May 4, TBD (if needed)

The Panthers and Lightning met three times in the regular season. Of those three games, Florida won two. The Panthers finished the regular season with a record of 52-24-6 with 110 points, earning themselves the third seed in the playoffs. The Lightning finished with a record of 45-29-8 with 98 points, earning the top wildcard spot. I predict Florida will defeat Tampa Bay in six games. I think the Panther’s offense will prove to be too much for the Lightning to handle. 

Boston Bruins vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
Game 1: 5-1 Bruins
Game 2: 3-2 Maple Leafs
Game 3: 4-2 Bruins
Game 4: April 27, 8 p.m.
Game 5: April 30, TBD (if needed)
Game 6: May 2, 3 p.m. (if needed)
Game 7: May 4, 3 p.m. (if needed)

In the four times they met this year, the Bruins beat the Maple Leafs every time. The Bruins finished with a record of 47-20-15, earning the fourth seed in the playoffs. The Maple Leafs finished this regular season with a record of 46-26-10, with 102 points, earning the fifth seed. I predict that Boston will win in seven. This may be the most evenly-matched series in the East, but I think Boston will take lessons learned from last year’s mistakes and defeat Toronto. 

New York Rangers vs. Washington Capitals
Game 1: 4-1 Rangers
Game 2: 4-3 Rangers
Game 3: April 26, 7 p.m.
Game 4: April 28, 8 p.m.
Game 5: May 1, 1 p.m. (if needed)
Game 6: May 3, TBD (if needed)
Game 7: May 5, TBD (if needed)

The Rangers and Capitals met four times in the regular season, both teams going 2-2-0 against the other. The Rangers earned the number one seed and the Presidents’ Trophy this season, ending with a record of 55-23-4 with 114 points. The Capitals ended the season with a record of 40-31-11, earning 91 points and the eighth seed in the playoffs. I predict that the Rangers will win this series in five. The Capitals may win a game, or maybe even two, but there’s no way they’ll be able to defeat the Rangers. 

Carolina Hurricanes vs. New York Islanders
Game 1: 3-1 Hurricanes
Game 2: 5-3 Hurricanes
Game 3: April 25, 7:30 p.m.
Game 4: April 27, 2 p.m.
Game 5: April 30, 1 p.m. (if needed)
Game 6: May 2, TBD (if needed)
Game 7: May 4, TBD (if needed)

The Hurricanes and Islanders met four times in the regular season and the Islanders went 2-1-1. The Hurricanes finished the regular season with a record of 52-23-7 with 111 points, earning them the second seed. The Islanders ended with a record of 39-27-16 with 94 points, earning the sixth seed in the playoffs. I predict that the Hurricanes will take the series in six games. The Islanders are pretty solid, but considering what Carolina has to work with, I don’t think New York can win this.

Western Conference:

Dallas Stars vs. Vegas Golden Knights
Game 1: 4-3 Golden Knights
Game 2: 3-1 Golden Knights
Game 3: April 27, 10:30 p.m.
Game 4: April 29, TBD
Game 5: May 1, 1 p.m. (if needed)
Game 6: May 3, 8 p.m. (if needed)
Game 7: May 5, 8 p.m. (if needed)

The Knights and Stars met three times in the regular season and the Knights won every time. The Stars finished the season with a record of 52-21-9 with 113 points, earning the first seed in the Western Conference. The Knights ended with a record of 45-29-8 with 98 points, earning the eighth seed. I predict Vegas will win in seven games. Even though the Stars have a solid defense, Vegas was last year’s cup winner, and the addition of Thomas Hertl should be enough to push Vegas over the edge. 

Winnipeg Jets vs. Colorado Avalanche
Game 1: 7-6 Jets
Game 2: 5-2 Avalanche
Game 3: April 26, 10 p.m.
Game 4: April 28, 2:30 p.m.
Game 5: April 30, TBD (if needed)
Game 6: May 2, TBD (if needed)
Game 7: May 4, TBD (if needed)

The Jets and Avalanche met three times in the regular season, all of which the Jets won. The Jets finished the season with a record of 52-24-6 and 110 points, earning the second seed. The Avalanche ended the regular season with a record of 50-25-7, earning 107 and the fourth seed. I predict the Avalanche will win in seven games. Even though the Jets had a better regular season, I believe that Colorado has more high-end talent than the Jets. Nathan MacKinnon is one of the best players in the league, but Winnipeg lacks that kind of player in their lineup. 

Vancouver Canucks vs. Nashville Predators
Game 1: 4-2 Canucks
Game 2: 4-1 Predators
Game 3: April 26, 7:30 p.m.
Game 4: April 28, 5 p.m.
Game 5: April 30, TBD (if needed)
Game 6: May 3, TBD (if needed)
Game 7: May 5, TBD (if needed)

The Canucks beat the Predators all three times that they met during the regular season. The Canucks finished the season with a record of 50-23-9 with 109 points, earning the third seed. The Predators had a record of 47-30-5 and 99 points, earning themselves the sixth seed. I predict Vancouver will win in seven games. Nashville has been hot lately after breaking their franchise record for the longest win streak. However, I believe that Vancouver is the better team. The Predators do have an advantage in net, but I don’t believe that difference will be enough for them to win. 

Edmonton Oilers vs. Los Angeles Kings
Game 1: 7-4 Oilers
Game 2: 5-4 Kings
Game 3: April 26, 10:30 p.m.
Game 4: April 28, 10:30 p.m.
Game 5: May 1, TBD (if needed)
Game 6: May 3, 8 p.m. (if needed)
Game 7: May 5, 8 p.m. (if needed)

The Oilers and Kings met four times during the regular season, with the Oilers defeating the Kings three times. The Oilers ended the regular season with a record of 49-27-6, earning 104 points and the fifth seed. The Kings finished the season with a record of 44-27-11 with 99 points, earning the seventh seed. I predict that the Oilers will win in six games. Connor McDavid is the best player in the league, and after the kind of year he had this season, Edmonton is poised for a late run. The Kings enter as the underdog in this matchup, and I think they can hang with Edmonton, but I just don’t think Los Angeles will be able to limit McDavid. 

With exciting matchups across the Eastern and Western conferences, this postseason is certain to be one with some compelling storylines. As the playoffs progress, hockey fans can look forward to thrilling games in the pursuit of the Stanley Cup. 

 

 

Buffalo Bills trade star wide receiver to the Houston Texans

Stefon Diggs shakes former teammate Dawson Knox’s hand before a game. PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Ben Staker
Sports Editor

On Wednesday, April 3, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that the Buffalo Bills traded their star wide receiver Stefon Diggs, a 2024 sixth-round pick, and a 2025 fifth-round pick to the Houston Texans for a 2025 second-round pick, via the Minnesota Vikings.

This move is interesting for both teams for multiple reasons. It leaves many people speculating what went wrong for Stefon Diggs in Buffalo. For the last four years he and his quarterback, Josh Allen, seemed to have one of the best connections in football. There had been rumors for months leading up to the trade that the Bills could move on from Diggs, but it didn’t seem to be a financially responsible move due to the amount of money they would owe him.

Of course, though, the Bills ended up finalizing a trade to send Diggs to the Houston Texans. This trade finds Diggs teaming up with one of the NFL’s youngest up-and-coming teams. He will have the opportunity to catch passes from second-year quarterback C.J. Stroud, which is the most appealing part of this trade. Last season, the Texans lost in the divisional round to the Baltimore Ravens and came into this offseason looking to make a couple of big moves. Trading for Stefon Diggs is just the latest of them.

Giving C.J. Stroud the opportunity the throw to the likes of Stefon Diggs, Nico Collins, and Tank Dell immediately makes the Texans a contender in the AFC. They knew that they needed to make some moves to separate themselves from the other teams that they would be competing against and this move proves that.

As for the other side of the trade, it leaves the Buffalo Bills with a glaring hole at the wide receiver position. While Stefon Diggs didn’t produce at his normal level for the second half of the season, his production in the past can’t just be replaced at the snap of a finger. This trade likely puts the Bills in a position to trade up in the first round of the NFL draft and take a wide receiver now, but they can’t expect that player to step in and fill the shoes of the guy they’re losing right away. Progression takes time, but they seem to be content with that.

Another interesting thing to note is that the Bills traded Diggs to another contender in the same conference as them. They allowed someone that they’ll be competing against to get better, while simultaneously getting worse themselves.

In my opinion, I think that this trade indicates that the Buffalo Bills will likely be resetting their team this year in hopes of preparing for the future. This trade may not seem very good for them now, but it could when we revisit it a few years later.

I’ve always been a fan of Stefon Diggs and the Buffalo Bills, so I can’t wait to see how both do without each other next season. For now, we have to wait until September to see that happen though.

Millersville alumna becomes second-ever woman selected to referee NBA playoffs

Ashley Moyer-Gleich officiates a game in 2020. PHOTO COURTESY OF KYLE TERADA / TERADA PHOTOS

Katelyn Auty
Head Copy Editor
Social Media Editor

Ashley Moyer-Gleich has become the second woman selected to officiate the National Basketball Association (NBA) playoffs. She’s the first woman in over a decade to be selected, succeeding Violet Palmer, who was featured in nine games from 2006 to 2012. 

Moyer-Gleich graduated from Millersville University in 2010 and played basketball for the university during her time here. She was promoted to a full-time NBA official in November 2018. Since then, she has worked over 200 regular-season games and is one of the three first-time playoff official selections by the league this year. 

“Congratulations to these 36 officials on the well-earned and prestigious honor of being selected to officiate in the NBA Playoffs,” NBA President of League Operations Byron Spruell shared. “We appreciate the professionalism, dedication and teamwork that our officiating staff displays on a daily basis throughout the season.”

The league will trim the officiating roster each round, usually reaching a 12-person list for the finals. Those referees receive a white warm-up jacket, a tradition in the league. 

“Just like playoffs are coveted, the white jacket is even more super-coveted,” Moyer-Greich admitted. “Obviously that’s an aspiration and that’s a goal way far down the road… And whether I’m the first or not, I think just a female breaking through and getting that opportunity would be monumental.”

Millersville student fields the perfect internship

Taylor Campagna prepares for a busy night as a Phillies ball girl. PHOTO COURTESY OF TAYLOR CAMPAGNA

Katelyn Auty
Head Copy Editor
Social Media Editor

As a college student, it can be hard to find a job or internship that works with your school and extracurricular schedule. Luckily, Millersville student Taylor Campagna, found just what she was looking for as a Philadelphia Phillies ball girl. 

Although ball girls are typically seen as someone who sits on the side of the field and collects foul balls, Campagna explains that they are also very active members of the community. 

“A ball girl participates in over 100 community events, both at the ballpark and throughout the New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware area,” says Campagna. “They also act as role models for younger softball players by hosting camps and clinics and teaching them about playing the sport of softball.”

Campagna got involved with the Phillies after attending a college night hosted by the team, an event she was encouraged to attend by Dr. Daniel Keefer, the chair of the Wellness and Sport Sciences department at Millersville.

“I’ve played sports my entire life,” says Campagna. “I’ve played softball since I was five, when it was considered t-ball. I’ve also been a Philadelphia sports fan since I was four. So, when I knew I wanted to pursue a career in sports, I felt that this was a great opportunity to kind of get my foot in the door and to get to know some of the individuals within the organization.”

What really sealed the deal for Campagna was the ability to use this opportunity as her internship for school.

“Once I found out it could be my internship, I was like, ‘Oh, I’m all for this.’ I think that’s what really drew me in, is it connected my love for sports and my love for Philadelphia sports with this new passion that I found in sports business and sports journalism,” shared Campagna. 

Campagna is a dual major in both sports business and sports journalism, a member of Millersville’s softball team, on the executive board for the Student Athletic Advisory Committee, a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and an assistant to Ethan Halsey, the head of athletic communications at Millersville. 

“In the fall, I made a deal to myself that everything that I had work-wise with the Phillies and with Ethan was going to be a big priority for me because I knew that that is what’s going to help me get to the next step in my career,” Campagna explained. 

In order to balance all of her responsibilities, Campagna shared that using her planner to stay on top of everything has been a big key to her success, as well as prioritizing what is most important to her. 

“I would definitely say it’s a time commitment for sure. There’s over 80 games that happen at home. Not that I can work all of them, obviously, because I’m also a student, but there’s definitely been days where I’ve not felt my best or I had a rough day at work before or a rough week at school,” confessed Campagna. “The summer days are hot. They are long. They are sweaty. So it’s definitely understandable that this is an opportunity that not many people get. I really do try my hardest not to complain. But there’s definitely really hot nights or days or really cold nights during the postseason that get to you.”

Despite the challenges that come with battling the grueling temperatures of the summer or balancing a very full schedule, Campagna speaks fondly of her experiences as a ball girl, especially her experiences seeing the children at games.

“I would say my favorite part is seeing the kids’ reactions to when I meet them, when I give them a ball, when I’m teaching them at a clinic. Seeing the smile and excitement that they have in that moment, it’s, I can’t even describe it,” Campagna recalled fondly. “It just makes me so happy because I know I just made their entire day with that small little action of just saying hi or handing them a ball card or even getting to give them a ball. It makes their whole day, their week, their month. I understand as a kid how much that little moment could mean because it meant so much to me when it happened to me. So now that I can do that for someone else, it’s pretty full circle.”

Campagna noted that those moments, as well as the opportunity to have an internship in a field that she loves, make her excited to go to work every day. 

“I think that’s also just really cool because a lot of people come back from their internships and they’re like, ‘it was just like an internship’ where I’m like, ‘I want to go back. I can’t wait to be back,’” Campaga shared. “I love every second of it.”

First stadium built for a professional women’s team opens in Kansas City

Alex Pfieffer poses for a media day photo. PHOTO COURTESY OF KANSAS CITY CURRENT

Katelyn Auty
Head Copy Editor
Social Media Editor

The Kansas City Current opened their new stadium on March 16, which is said to be the first of its kind purpose-built for a professional women’s team. The Current was founded in 2021 as an expansion team in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).

The Current took down the Portland Thorns 5-4 in a sold-out back-and-forth match in front of 11,500 fans. 

Midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo scored the first goal in the new stadium. 

“I think what this club is doing and setting the standard, and building this stadium, and people showing up and supporting it, and just women’s soccer growing in general, I think it’s just super special,” DiBernardo said. “Where we started with this league and where we are now, it just shows the growth and how much players have put into it and really pushed the standard, and how much we’ve kind of really had to fight for ourselves. And it’s just the start.”

At just 16 years old, Alex Pfieffer became the youngest player to score in NSWL regular season history. Pfieffer’s goals turned out to be the game-winner. 

Kansas City Current took to X, formerly Twitter, to congratulate Pfieffer on her goal, saying: 

“The stuff dreams are made of.

16-year-old @AlexPfeiff17 became the youngest goal-scorer in @NWSL regular season history. 

Her first goal with KC Current, a game-winner in her pro debut.

At the first stadium purpose-built for a women’s sports team. 

Iconic.”

The match was also the first streamed on ABC as part of a new deal with the NWSL. Future NWSL games can be seen on ESPN and ABC throughout the 2024 season. 

The Kansas City Current will be back in their home stadium on March 30 for their matchup against Angel City Football Club. 

“This is the beginning of the change,” said Head Coach Vlatko Andonovoski. “This is going to forever change women’s soccer.”