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Churchill boys narrowly upset Einstein in first round of hoops playoffs, 74-73

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20180223 Churchill Einstein BBall 1Churchill's Reed Moshyedi catches fire in the fourth quarter, scoring 16 points to beat Einstein. PHOTO BY MIKE CLARK  

KENSINGTON — A long rebound sailed out to the Einstein Titans’ Joey Curtin, with his team trailing by two points Friday night. Curtin put up a three-pointer, and drained it, pumping his fist as the Einstein crowd roared. With 11.8 seconds left, the visiting Churchill Bulldogs put the ball in the hands of its star player, Reed Moshyedi. Moshyedi drove to the baseline, before rising up into the air to fire a shot. With 2.9 seconds to play, the ball splashed through the net.

Moshyedi’s jump shot gave Churchill a one-point lead, and after Einstein missed a deep heave, the clock hit zero with the Bulldogs winning the game, 74-73.

“We’ve been in a lot of close games, and lost a lot of close games late,” Churchill head coach Dave Blumenthal said. “I think tonight is where those experiences of losing close games really helped us be able to withstand a really tough three and be able to come down and make a play and pull it out.”

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Sherwood’s Sanchez once again edges Churchill’s Connolly to win county wrestling title

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In a bit of controversy, Chris Sanchez of Sherwood slams Jack Connolly of Churchill to the mat just after the whistle. Sanchez held on for a 3-2 win in the 138lb weight class. PHOTO BY MIKE CLARKIn a bit of controversy, Chris Sanchez of Sherwood slams Jack Connolly of Churchill to the mat just after the whistle. Sanchez held on for a 3-2 win in the 138lb weight class.                 PHOTO BY MIKE CLARK  Sherwood junior Chris Sanchez faced Churchill senior Jack Connolly in a marquee bout for the second time in as many weeks last Saturday, and their battle delivered a similarly dramatic result.

Sanchez secured a takedown in the final seven seconds of a 3-2 victory, emerging with an 18-0 record and a county title from a duel between two of Maryland’s premiere 138-pound wrestlers at Gaithersburg.

Sanchez repeated an earlier effort against Connolly (35-5) during a Feb. 3 dual meet, where he edged the Bulldogs’ grappler, 5-4, on a reversal with 10 seconds left.

“I never stopped wrestling against a tough competitor who has definitely given me great matches,” said Sanchez, who was fifth at private school states at DeMatha last year. “Connolly just kept on coming today, and I truly believe that I beat him at his best.”

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Gaithersburg dominates Churchill, 90-56, earns second seed in playoffs

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20180216 Churchill Gaithersburg Boys Bball 5Gaithersburg's Jordan Hawkins blocks Churchill's Valvin Piker's drive to basket. PHOTO BY MIKE CLARK  POTOMAC — The visiting Gaithersburg Trojans varsity boys basketball team ended the regular season with a bang Friday when the Trojans strode into the Dawg Pound and handed the Churchill Bulldogs their 12th loss of the season, 90-56.

The Trojans proved their prowess on both sides of the ball as the defense forced multiple turnovers and beat the Bulldogs on the defensive boards. Freshman guards Jordan Hawkins (26 points) and Jao Ituka (18 points) continued their season-long campaign of highlight reel plays that gave Gaithersburg a comfortable lead for most of the evening.

The Trojans began to pull away after an 18-point unanswered scoring run lasted into the beginning of the second quarter. Churchill’s student section, the Dawg Pound, was uncharacteristically quiet as they watched Hawkins steal the ball during a fast break and take it back up the court for an easy two points.

The Bulldogs appeared renewed in the second half as junior guards John Mbeng and Michael Janis combined for 14 third-quarter points that cut into Gaithersburg’s substantial halftime lead.

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RM Rockets boys shine with 65-57 win over Churchill Bulldogs

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Churchill Bulldogs vs. RM RocketsROCKVILLE — The Richard Montgomery Rockets varsity boys basketball team celebrated their seniors’ last regular season home game with a 65-57 win over the Churchill Bulldogs in a scrappy Tuesday night game.

For most of the night the visiting Bulldogs were nipping at the Rockets’ heels and were able to make up for a poor first quarter by drastically improving the rest of the game.

The improvement was not enough to overcome a scrappy Rockets squad that was able to play an effective game of catch-up and brushed off the Bulldogs’ challenges.

The first quarter ended 14-7 in favor of the Rockets, with senior Rockets forward Xavier Harris scoring five points.

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Churchill sweeps Springbrook, Sherwood in regular-season-ending tri-meet

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Churchill's Marc Ballman needs only 1:41 to fall Sherwood's Adam Pfeiffer in the 170lb weight class. PHOTO BY MIKE CLARKChurchill's Marc Ballman needs only 1:41 to fall Sherwood's Adam Pfeiffer in the 170lb weight class. PHOTO BY MIKE CLARK  After helping his fellow Churchill Bulldogs secure a hard-earned five-point victory over Sherwood’s squad, Andrew Welch sat in the bleachers at Springbrook High School and watched the host team build a 43-point advantage, leading to a 40-point Blue Devil victory over the Warriors.

“We only beat Sherwood by single digits, and sitting in the stands looking at the scoreboard, I saw Springbrook beating them, 49-6, at one point,” said Welch, of an eventual 58-18 victory by the host Blue Devils over the Warriors. “We were getting a little nervous, but our coaches brought us together and told us how matchups work.”

Bulldogs coach Tony Howard, a three-time state champion at Magruder, and Tim Lowe, a two-time state champion at Einstein, assured their wrestlers they were nevertheless confident of taking the Blue Devils. “Our guys saw the score and were a little concerned, but matchups are so unique. Wrestling’s one of those sports where you really can’t watch what’s happening between two other teams,” said Lowe, the Bulldogs’ head coach.

“Coach Howard and myself weren’t concerned. I told them that Sherwood matches up well with us and wrestled us tough, and that we were in for a tough match against Springbrook, but that we have the right matchups as a whole group of 14 wrestlers to get it done.”

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Sherwood wrestler Higazi overcomes setbacks, hands first loss to Churchill’s Tranquill

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Sherwood's Yusef Higazi pulls a 3-2 upset of over previously undefeated Fio Tranquill of Churchill to win the 182lb weight class. PHOTO BY MIKE CLARKSherwood's Yusef Higazi pulls a 3-2 upset of over previously undefeated Fio Tranquill of Churchill to win the 182lb weight class. PHOTO BY MIKE CLARK  SILVER SPRING — As Sherwood Yusuf Higazi sought to overcome a throbbing sore ankle and an 11-pound weight disadvantage against the undefeated Churchill Bulldog named Fio Tranquill, the junior wrestler’s parents – Wail and Sumaya – appeared to be more concerned than he was.

“Yusuf had an ankle injury a couple of weeks ago, and he’s still recovering,” said Wail, whose animation in the stands during the match included twisting his own body in synchronization with his son’s maneuvers.

“I know I’m a concerned parent because the kid was pulling on his ankle. But Yusuf is very tough and in very good condition. He works out a lot and does weights. It was a matter of him getting up to win, and he did that.”

With nine seconds left in the match, all that work paid off, as he found the strength to pull one point ahead of Tranquill with an escape. Higazi held that one-point advantage to lock in a score of 3-2 and earn his 30th victory of the season over the previously-undefeated Tranquill, a senior whose record dropped to 30-1 for the year while Higazi’s record rose to 30-2.

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Still undefeated, Churchill’s Tranquill pins Damascus’ Lokos

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Churchill's Fio Tranquill gets the fall against Damascus’ Ben Lokos to remain unbeaten this season in the 182-pound weight class. PHOTO BY MIKE CLARKChurchill's Fio Tranquill gets the fall against Damascus’ Ben Lokos to remain unbeaten this season in the 182-pound weight class.   PHOTO BY MIKE CLARK  POTOMAC — As a freshman three years ago, Fio Tranquill’s football season at Churchill was cut short and a wrestling tryout negated by a severe bout with Lyme disease.

Now a senior third-year wrestler for the Churchill Bulldogs, Tranquill’s having the time of his life, improving to a mark of 28-0 with a pair of pins during Saturday’s 47-15 tri-meet loss to the visiting 15-time county champion Damascus Swarmin’ Hornets and a 56-22 victory over Quince Orchard, loser by 72-9 to Damascus.

Tranquill scored an upset fall in 5:24 over 182-pound Swarmin’ Hornets’ senior Ben Lokos, who missed all of last year due to an injury but as a sophomore was county champ before finishing third at regions and states.

Lokos led 2-0 early in a wild match that featured five lead changes before Tranquill reversed the Damascus grappler to his back for the pin, overcoming a 7-6 deficit. Tranquill led only 7-5 before pinning the Cougars’ Ryan Jones in 4:24.

“I wasn’t sure I would win, but in the end, I heard my coaches screaming to head-hunt. I saw his head, grabbed it, pulled him over and that was it,” said Tranquill, who was third at counties and regions last year.

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QO Cougars’ Lopez pins Churchill Bulldogs’ Connolly: 'I’ve got a goal to win states’

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POTOMAC — Alejandro Lopez could barely stand, let alone wrestle Thursday of last week as the result of pains in his gut.

“I just woke up sick and my stomach wasn’t feeling right. Every other hour I was in the bathroom, and it lasted all day,” said Lopez, a senior at Quince Orchard. “I woke up today and I was three-and-a-half pounds underweight, which isn’t normal for me. I wasn’t sure how I’d do.”

But Lopez was exemplary during the Cougars’ 56-22 loss to the host Churchill Bulldogs in Saturday’s tri-meet with the 15-time county champion Damascus Swarmin’ Hornets, which handled Churchill 47-15 and Quince Orchard 72-9.

Lopez won a marquee bout between two of Maryland’s premiere 138-pound wrestlers, scoring nine-answered points to overcome an early 2-0 deficit against the Bulldogs’ Jack Connolly, whom he twice cradled to his back – the second time for a fall in three minutes, 15 seconds.

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Churchill wrestlers earn Paint Branch crown, eye Damascus showdown

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20180120 The Pit 195lb 1Both Andrew Welch of Churchill and Ike Kalu of Western Tech are exhausted as their 195-lb weight class finals took 8:00. Welch prevailed for the win. PHOTO BY MIKE CLARK  Sean Mahan (145), Fio Tranquill (182) and Andrew Welch (195) won titles, with seniors Chris Ervin (120) and Jack Connolly (138) finishing second as Churchill placed 11 wrestlers within the top six of their weight classes to win the 21-team Paint Branch Invitational Tournament on Jan. 19 and 20.

The Bulldogs (18-0 overall, 8-0 minus tournament dual meets) outscored runner-up Old Mill of Anne Arundel County 220.5-to-203.5, continuing their tremendous year under coaches Tim Lowe and Tony Howard heading into Saturday’s tri-meet with Quince Orchard at 15-time county champion Damascus.

At Paint Branch, Elijah Jack (152) finished third, Ryan Kaplow (220) and Alec Velikanov (285) were fourth, Carlos Villamar (132) fifth, and Parker DeSalvio (160) and Mac Ballman (170) both sixth.

The Bulldogs are now 3-0 in tournaments, having gone 10-0 to win the Rocket Launch Duals at Richard Montgomery and captured the title at the Joe Verciglio Memorial Tournament at Chantilly High of Virginia under Lowe, who was a two-time state champion at Einstein while Howard was a three-timer at Magruder.

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Lawrence three-peats at War On The Shore with trio of first-period pins, decision

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At the War On The Shore Tournament at Stephen Decatur High in Berlin in Worcester County on Jan. 12 and 13, Damascus’ state champion Ryan Lawrence (145) won his semifinal 3-1, over Virginia’s sixth-place state finisher Elijah Williams of Nansemond River High, then secured his third-straight crown by head-locking two-time Delaware state runner-up Kyle McDonough of Sanford High for a 64-second fall.

A two-time county and regional champion who managed a third-place finish at states as a sophomore, Lawrence (28-0) led the Swarmin’ Hornets (224.5 points) to a runner-up finish behind Baltimore area power Mount St. Joseph (269) on the strength of three falls in a combined 2 minutes, 52 seconds.

State champion Paul Purkey (195) and two-time third-place state finisher Johnny McLaughlin (126) were runners-up for the second straight season, and John Allan Furgeson (152) was third after being fourth a year ago among seven Swarmin’ Hornets finishing within the top four of their weight classes and 11 within the top eight.

The Swarmin’ Hornets’ Elijah Baisden (285) was third, Josh Creegan (138) and Ben Lokos (170), fourth, Timothy Furgeson (160), fifth, Aiden Bell (220), sixth, and Michael Emerick (106) and Dyllan Ramirez (132), seventh and eighth.

“Ryan did a fantastic job in the finals as he has each year in this tournament,” said coach John Furgeson, whose Swarmin’ Hornets (15-0) have won six straight state tournaments, five consecutive state dual meet titles, 15 county tournaments and 142 straight matches. “It was a tough tournament, that’s why we go there and how we’re going to get better. We learned a lot about our young kids and what we need to work on.”

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