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“MoCo” native Alex Tsironis wears many hats, County welcomes new head coaches

Alex TsironisAlex Tsironis. COURTESY PHOTO  Over the years, Alex Tsironis has been a coach, teacher and mentor to countless students throughout Montgomery County Public Schools.
Tsironis, who was born in Silver Spring, currently heads up the Physical Education and Arts Department at North Bethesda Middle School.
However, Tsironis, a Watkins Mill High School graduate, is perhaps best known as the creator of the popular MoCo Snow website and blog, at www.mocosnow.com, which began in 2010.
“I loved snow days,” recalled Tsironis, “so I would always share my opinions with my kids.”

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Springbrook boys defeat Blake, 85-56, in final regular season game

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Springbrook’s Cameron Rucker (21) cleanly blocks this shot by Malik Raheem (32) of Blake. PHOTO BY JACQUI SOUTHSpringbrook’s Cameron Rucker (21) cleanly blocks this shot by Malik Raheem (32) of Blake. PHOTO BY JACQUI SOUTH  SILVER SPRING — The visiting Springbrook Blue Devils varsity boys basketball team ended the regular season on a high note as they dispatched the Blake Bengals 85-56 and senior guard Matthew Balanc scored his 1000th point.

But for every high there is a low: shortly after making his milestone bucket, Balanc exited the game at the start of the third quarter with an unspecified injury and did not return.

The scrappy Bengals squad held up tonight against a strong Blue Devils squad. Blake came in with a losing record of 8-13, while Springbrook entered with an impressive 17-4 record.

Blue Devils senior forward Cameron Rucker started the game with a three-pointer, to which Bengals sophomore guard Raef Hetherington responded with a three-point bucket of his own.

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Quince Orchard girls narrowly avoid defeat to vanquish Springbrook 42-39

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QO Cougars vs. Springbrook Blue DevilsSILVER SPRING — It was never a dull minute Friday night in the varsity girls basketball matchup between the visiting Quince Orchard Cougars and the Springbrook Blue Devils, as the Cougars squeaked by with a three-point margin to win 42-39.

Going by the standings before the game, the Cougars were likely to be favored, as the visitors came in with an 8-10-1 record to the Blue Devils’ 5-13-1.

Once the game was underway, there was no sign of an impending blowout or a certain victor, as every minute the game was under grabs for either squad.

The first quarter proved that both teams were on near-equal footing as they each traded shots and would respond bucket for bucket.

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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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Springbrook defeats rival Paint Branch for first place in division

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Matthew Balanc, a key player in Springbrook’s win over Paint Branch, dunks a ball and earns two more points for the Blue Devils.  PHOTO BY DAVID WOLFEMatthew Balanc, a key player in Springbrook’s win over Paint Branch, dunks a ball to score two of his 29 points during the game for the Blue Devils. PHOTO BY DAVID WOLFEBURTONSVILLE — Three weeks after the Paint Branch varsity boys basketball team defeated its division rival Springbrook Blue Devils on Springbrook’s home turf, the Blue Devils strode into the Panthers’ house Friday and returned the favor, winning by a score of 80-76.

The bleachers were once again packed to capacity as fans poured into the gym to witness two of the county’s top teams vie for the No. 1 spot in their division.

Springbrook’s fast, aggressive start seemed to stun the Panthers as the Blue Devils jumped out to an early lead behind Quinnipiac University commit Matthew Balanc (29 points) and senior guard Anthony Deruisseau (13 points.)

The Blue Devils dictated a breakneck pace from the beginning, capitalizing on turnovers and beating the Panthers on the boards. Balanc stole the ball and blazed down the court, emphatically slamming down his first dunk of the evening to bring the screaming crowd to its feet.

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Springbrook wins home tournament for the first time in its 20-year history

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Sprngbrook's Jean Mehul and Sherwood's Tristan McKneeley battle in the 145lb weight class. Mehul takes the championship. PHOTO BY MIKE CLARKSprngbrook's Jean Mehul and Sherwood's Tristan McKneeley battle in the 145lb weight class. Mehul would go on to take the championship. PHOTO BY MIKE CLARK  Third-year wrestling junior Jean Mehul (145) was the lone champion for host Springbrook, winner of its January 12-13 Battle at the Brook Tournament for the first time in the event’s 20-year history.

The Blue Devils (197.5 points) overcame the second place Sherwood Warriors (180) by placing eight wrestlers within the top four of their weight classes, with Ming-Tri Nguyen (113) being a runner-up, Billy Madden (126), Sahid Antar (160), Jack Brutus (195) and Aimrick Nya (285) placing third, and Pierre Jean (106) and Sayfore Sieh (120) finishing fourth.

Sherwood had six wrestlers finish within the top four, with Chris Sanchez (138) being first, Chase Suissa (120), Sam Ewing (132) and Tristan Mckneeley (145), second, and Rythy Gosh (160) and Adam Pfeiffer (182) both fourth.

“We knew Sherwood had some really tough kids and that Sanchez was going to score a lot of points. But we’re a scrappy team that received contributions from everybody,” said Whittles, a 36-year-old fifth-year coach.

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Sophomore’s first varsity start ignites Damascus over Springbrook, 67-0

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Damascus Swarmin HornetsOn Jan. 15, 145-lb. Damascus junior varsity wrestler Isaiah Bell got word that he would get his first varsity start the next day against Springbrook, but the sophomore didn’t learn that his match would be the night's first until an hour before the two teams took to the mat.

“Coach told me yesterday at practice I’d be wrestling, then I found out during weigh-ins I was the first match,” said Bell, a rangy 6-footer with an unbeaten JV record. “I was kind of nervous, but I knew I had to stay focused and set the tone if I wanted to get my first ‘W’ on varsity.”

But despite his nerves, Bell did just that by building a 9-3 lead early in the third period, leading to an 11-8 decision over Nico Cancino and sparking the Swarmin’ Hornets (16-0) in a 67-0 shutout and the 143rd straight victory for a program after its sixth dual meet state title.

“I was a little gassed, but I had to buckle down,” said Thomas. “Looking back, I’d have felt awful if I’d have been the only one to have lost; I’m glad I made sure that didn’t happen.”

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Springbrook boys survive in close hoops win over Wootton

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Springbrook’s Anthony Deruisseaun (#5) beats the Wootton defense to the hoop during Tuesday night’s game.  PHOTO BY GEORGE P. SMITHSpringbrook’s Anthony Deruisseaun (#5) beats the Wootton defense to the hoop during Tuesday night’s game. PHOTO BY GEORGE P. SMITH  ROCKVILLE — A second-half comeback attempt Tuesday night by the Wootton Patriots varsity boys basketball team rattled some nerves as the Springbrook Blue Devils saw the Patriots eat into their hard-earned lead, but Springbrook held on, walking away with an 81-73 victory.

“I thought we played well,” said Springbrook head coach Darnell Meyers. “I just thought we have to protect that ball a little better in our offense, but overall I thought we did a pretty good job.”

Springbrook and Wootton entered the game going in two opposite directions, Springbrook having won two in a row while Wootton had lost two in a row. But Wootton's boys continued the pattern they've developed by keeping the came close and never giving up, even against Montgomery County's top teams.

Springbrook started the game by building a 7-2 lead. Wootton responded with nine points from forward Julian Levin, helping the Patriots to take a 13-12 lead later in the first quarter. However, even though Springbrook point guard and Quinnipiac commit Matthew Balanc had to clean up six of his teammates' missed shots for six second-chance points, Springbrook held a 17-16 lead heading into the second quarter.

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Springbrook boys come up short at home against Paint Branch

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Paint Branch guard Richard Dudley (5) shoots between Springbrook defenders Anthony Desruisseau (5) & Markell McDaniels (25). PHOTO BY JACQUI SOUTHPaint Branch guard Richard Dudley (5) shoots between Springbrook defenders Anthony Desruisseau (5) & Markell McDaniels (25). PHOTO BY JACQUI SOUTH  SILVER SPRING – As two of the county’s top varsity basketball teams went head to head on a frigid Friday night, fans arrived in droves at Springbrook High School’s gym entrance only to find handwritten sign reading: “we are currently at capacity.” Such demand for tickets meant the crowd was standing-room-only as they watched the visiting Paint Branch Panthers (8-1) topple the Springbrook Blue Devils (8-2) for the fourth time in a row, 83-71.

With guards Richard Dudley and Xavier Reaves finishing with 21 points, and another player – senior forward Chris Mayaka – putting 19 on the board, Paint Branch was able to showcase a wide variety of scoring threats.

The game started off fast-paced and aggressive from the moment of the opening tip-off, as Springbrook senior guard Matthew Balanc put his signature high-energy playing style on full display by fearlessly driving through the paint for layups, and as he used his 6-foot-3 frame to knock one of Dudley’s shots out of the air.

Despite the result, the Blue Devils kept the score close for most of the first quarter, thanks to Balanc's penchant for hitting big buckets, giving him a game-high 27 points and leading to a quarter that featured five ties as both teams fought hard to pull away.

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