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Epps puts on a show as Magruder thumps Paint Branch

basketballhoopsDERWOOD - J.J. Epps had a 101.3-degree temperature Monday and was not sure if he was going to be able to play in Tuesday’s highly touted matchup of division winners Magruder and Paint Branch.
Luckily for Magruder (18-2), the senior guard recovered in time to put in a dominant performance and lead the Colonels to a 73-56 victory over the Montgomery County 4A East division champions. Epps tied the game-high score of 22 points with fellow Colonel Brian Coleman, who had 9-of-14 shooting; 19 of Epps’ points came in the first half, and he shot 8-of-10 from the floor. Epps also dazzled the crowd with several assists to set up easy baskets for his teammates.

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Paint Branch downs G-Burg

 

basketballhoopsGAITHERSBURG – Paint Branch senior John Onukaogu scored a game-high 15 points Friday to lead the Panthers to a 63-46 victory over Gaithersburg in a battle of non-division rivals.
Onukaogu led three Paint Branch players in double figures as the Panthers kept pace atop the Montgomery 4A East division standings. Paint Branch seniors Tristan Toliver (13 points) and Tre Galloway (11 points) were also instrumental in the victory.
The Panthers play in a division that includes Sherwood, Blair, Kennedy, Springbrook and Blake.
“I think, honestly, we have the toughest region,” said Paint Branch senior Jordan Radway, who finished with eight points against the Trojans. “All those others schools, they have a cakewalk to the state championship. I think we grind it out. We play tough teams two times. Other schools, they get to play the weak schools so I think we have the toughest division.”
Meanwhile, Gaithersburg continues to struggle despite an athletic lineup that features 6-foot-7 junior center Zach Coalmon, 6-foot-4 sophomore forward Kamonte Carter and 5-foot-10 senior guard Mateen Etheridge, the Trojans’ leading scorer.
Etheridge, Oshay Greene and J.P. Herbert each finished with eight points apiece to pace the Trojans.
Paint Branch led 27-21 at halftime and outscored the Trojans in the second half, 36-24. Gaithersburg pulled to within seven points early in the fourth quarter before Paint Branch went on a 19-9 run and cruised to their fifth consecutive win.
“They’re a really good team,” said Gaithersburg head coach Kevin Parrish. “We knew we’d have to play close to a perfect game to beat them.”

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Magruder thumps RM

basketballhoopsROCKVILLE - The Magruder High School boys’ basketball team does not take losses lightly.
After losing for only the third time since 2011 against Clarksburg High School on Jan. 30, Magruder (16-2) came out with a vengeance Friday, hitting 10 3-pointers in the first half en route to a 82-47 rout over Richard Montgomery High School (6-12).
The Colonels opened the game on a 11-2 run and led 19-7 at the end of the first quarter. They would go on another 15-4 run in the second quarter and finish the half with a 43-20 lead.
“The guys aren’t used to losing a lot, especially J.J. [Epps], Nick [Griffin] and Justin [Witmer],” said Magruder head coach Dan Harwood. “We just needed to get back to playing Magruder basketball, which is playing tough defense and making the extra pass.”
Harwood said he was happy with the team’s ball movement, especially because every 3-point shot was made on an assist. Three-point shooting was key for Magruder as seven different players hit at least one 3-pointer. Overall, Magruder hit on 13 shots from behind the arc.
Epps, the senior guard who finished with 13 points, including 10 in the second half, said the team made a concerted effort to pass the ball more because of the lack of efficiency in the loss to Clarksburg. The improved ball movement led to easier scoring chances for the Colonels as they shot 45 percent for the game.
“When we pass the ball and get each other open, we get close-outs, easy lay-ups and open 3-pointers,” Epps said. “That’s what we want to do.”
Griffin, a senior guard, scored 15 points for Magruder, hitting five of his 15 field goal attempts, including three 3-pointers. Senior forward Ryan Rucker came off the bench and scored a then-season-high 12 points (he scored 14 points against Wootton Tuesday), including four 3-pointers.
For Richard Montgomery, the loss was a learning experience., head coach David Breslaw said.
“We really haven’t played a team that has five guys that can shoot three-pointers at any given time so it’s good prep as we go on and play some of these other division teams,” Breslaw said.
The leading scorer for Richard Montgomery, Justin Senou, came into the game averaging 20 points per game. He finished with 18 points in Friday’s game, but Magruder’s defense held him in check as he hit only four of his 10 shots. As a team, Richard Montgomery shot 32 percent from the field.
The strong defensive effort by Magruder was a result of an emotional talk the team had before the game, Epps said. The players talked about having each other’s backs, he said, instead of getting down on one another.
“We didn’t have any help on defense against Clarksburg,” Epps said. “They were getting easy lay-ups with no one even like within two feet of them. Tonight, we had each other’s back and helped each other out there. We helped out, got close-outs, and they had no easy shots.”
Although it appeared that the game was never in doubt for Magruder, a scary moment occurred in the fourth quarter. With 6:25 minutes remaining in the game, Epps appeared to take an accidental elbow to the head, which resulted in two teammates carrying him to the bench. Epps, who did not return in the game, said he took a shot to the temple and experienced a slight headache and dizziness. However, the trainer told Epps she did not think he had a concussion.
“I’m alright,” Epps said. “The trainer told me to go to the doctor and tell her what the doctor says, but she said she doesn’t think I have a concussion.”

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B-CC hires Singer as new football coach

footballB-CC has named former junior varsity head coach Josh Singer as the school’s new varsity head football coach.
Singer, 28, replaces Rich Noland who resigned in November after four seasons at the helm.
“I’m very excited about the opportunity,” said Singer, a Northern Virginia native who played football at George Mason High School in Falls Church. “I really am honored to be selected for the position.”
During his tenure at the school, Noland guided the Barons to a 23-17 record including back-to-back 7-3 seasons over the last two years. Last season, B-CC won six of its final seven regular season games after starting out with a 1-2 record. 
“I think we’re definitely returning a lot of key players,” said Singer. “We’re hoping to continue the success of the program.”
Expected to be among the leading returnees next season are fullback and linebacker Nana Amankwah-Ayeh, defensive end Malik Matthews and linebacker Keenan McCumber.
“We think that we have the guys in place that can really step in,” said Singer.
Prior to Noland’s arrival, B-CC had not made a playoff appearance since the 1995 campaign when the Barons finished 11-1 and advanced to the postseason for the first time in school history.

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Q.O. upsets Churchill 64-46

basketballhoopsBETHESDA - What the Quince Orchard boys’ basketball lacks in height, it more than makes up for in resiliency and toughness. 
Coming off two consecutive losses to Sherwood and Magruder, Quince Orchard pulled off a 64-46 upset of Churchill on the road in what was the second night of back-to-back games. Senior guard Charles Porter said he talked to his teammates after the team’s 54-39 loss to Magruder on Monday, and told them they would win Tuesday night.
“I told everyone last night when we were on the bench when that clock hit zero,” Porter said. “I was like it’s mandatory to win tomorrow. I don’t care who it is and where we are, we’re going to win no matter what and tonight we blew them out.”
Porter led Quince Orchard with a game-high 29 points, knocking down eight of his 17 field-goal attempts. He also made 12 of 16 free-throws. As a team, Quince Orchard shot 38 percent from the field.
The Quince Orchard team is the shortest in the county, Porter said. In fact, no player on the team is taller than six-feet three inches. The team doesn’t get intimidated by height, Porter said, and uses speed and toughness to win ball games.
Quince Orchard coach Paul Foringer said his team plays hard because it’s the only way his team will win. 
“We always fight hard,” Foringer said. “It’s one thing we’ve talked about is the only way because we seem like we’re so weak and so small, the only way we can battle is to press, trap and just fight like crazy. Kids hate me because in practice we do diving for balls drills. That’s the kinds of things that we’ve taught them, and that’s really how they believe they have to play to win.”
Quince Orchard started the game cold, which is something Foringer said has been a common problem for his team. With three minutes to go in the first quarter Quince Orchard found itself down 7-0. Foringer said the players were taking too many jump shots and not driving to the basket. The team did not stop playing hard, however, and ended the first quarter on an 8-0 run to take the lead going into the second quarter.
In the second quarter, Churchill regained the lead. Trailing 17-14, Quince Orchard again rallied and ended the half on 9-2 run to take a 23-19 into the break. In the second half, Quince Orchard was finally able to break away, outscoring Churchill 41-27 in the half. A key series of plays occurred as the third quarter winded down as Quince Orchard ended the quarter on another 8-8 run, capped by a buzzer-beating jump shot by Porter to extend the lead to 45-31.
For Churchill, the loss ends an eight-game winning streak which began on Jan. 4 in a win over Wootton. Churchill was not able to match the intensity of Quince Orchard, committing 20 turnovers and surrendering a countless number offensive rebounds and second-chance scoring opportunities.
“We did a bad job on the glass which is usually a strength of ours and been a reason we’ve won a lot of our games this year,” said Matt Miller, Churchill head coach. “I think we took a night off and took wins for granted.”
For the game, Churchill shot 37.8 percent from the field. Senior forward Bryant Wheatley led the team with 11 points. The Bulldogs’ top two leading scorers, junior guard Malik Harris and senior guard Dominique Williams, each scored 10 points. Harris shot 2/10 from the field.
For Quince Orchard, Foringer said the upset win on the road could be a defining moment of the team’s season as they close out the season.
“I think this jump starts us through the end of February and hopefully into the playoffs,” Foringer said. “We needed this. We needed something like this just because of the last two games.”

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Ibrahim and Veii make history at county’s smallest school

DSC 42312GAITHERSBURG – History was made at the Avalon School on Wednesday.
The small private school boasted three student-athletes who put pen to paper on National Signing Day.
However, Avalon senior standouts Rachid Ibrahim and Jacquille Veii became the school’s first student-athletes to accept a scholarship from a Football Bowl Subdivision program when the pair both signed National Letters of Intent.
Ibrahim, who verbally committed to the University of Pittsburgh last October, made his pledge official by signing with the Panthers.
Ibrahim, a 6-foot-2, 170-pound running back and defensive back, said he was honored to be a part of Avalon’s historic recruiting class.
“We’ve got a lot of younger athletes who are going to have this opportunity too in the years to come,” said Ibrahim, an All-Sentinel first team performer at running back last season, “so I was glad I was able to start it but there’s going to be some other great athletes from out of Avalon School.”
Meanwhile, Veii, who earned All-Sentinel first team honors at defensive back last season, provided a bit of drama in his decision.
Veii committed to Maryland last summer but de-committed from the Terrapins during the fall. He received late interest from Nebraska and narrowed his choices down to the Cornhuskers, Maryland and Iowa before opting to stay at home. 
“I want to win championships and I want to win bowl games as well,” said Veii, who picked up a Maryland cap and put it on his head while leaving the Nebraska and Iowa caps on the table.
Veii, a 5-foot-10, 180-pound speedster, said he looks forward to playing at the University of Maryland.
“My family’s here,” said Veii. “I got a great support system here and everything that I need is right here at home so what better place to go than just stay home.”
Meanwhile, Tommy Vince, a middle linebacker who was named All-Sentinel honorable mention, received a merit scholarship to Division III Catholic University in Washington, D.C.
“I’m proud to announce that I’ll be playing football at the Catholic University of America,” said Vince, who plans to study civil engineering and architecture in college.
The dynamic duo both had their Avalon jerseys retired so no one will ever wear Ibrahim’s No. 3 and Veii’s No. 5 again.
“Of course it’s great to have great athletes on the field,” said Avalon head coach Tad Shields, “but their contributions go far beyond that and that’s part of the reason we retired their jerseys was more than just the touchdowns and the tackles. 
“They’re great here at the school. They’re good classmates with all the other kids in the school. They set good examples for the younger kids to look up to. They work hard in the classroom, they’re good students and then of course they’re the hardest workers on the team so they inspire the other teammates to work harder and play harder so what more can you ask in leaders.”

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Northwest beats Blake 68-63

basketballhoopsGERMANTOWN – Tivon Lake and Xavier Bradley combined for 34 points on Tuesday to lead Northwest to a 68-63 home victory over Blake.
With the game tied at 27 late in the second quarter, Northwest went on a 14-2 run to take a 41-29 lead at halftime.
Bradley, a 6-foot junior guard, registered eight points during the late second quarter rally and finished with 16 points. 
“He’s been huge for us all year,” said Northwest head coach Usman Jamil. “A lot of people ask who is your best player? Elliot [Gambrell] gets a lot of the pub for Northwest. We’ve heard coaches and other refs say ‘Wow’ Elliot can play but I really think X is right there.”
Gambrell, who finished with eight points against Blake, suffered a bloody nose in the heat of battle but Jamil said the senior guard should be fine.
“He don’t miss a beat,” said the coach. “He’s been consistent all year for us, offensively and defensively. He’s the glue to this team. He’s amazing.”
Meanwhile, Lake, a 6-foot-2 senior forward, scored eight of his game-high 18 points in the first half. 
“We’re ecstatic,” said Jamil. “Here’s a kid we’re talking who barely played last year and didn’t play jayvee at all so you’re talking about a very inexperienced player that’s hit double digits in points and rebounds many times for us this season. That’s pretty big.”
Blake 6-foot-4 junior guard Demonte Ojinnaka scored a team-high 14 points to lead the Bengals. Senior guard A.J. Butts finished with ten points and classmate Stefan Sigwalt added nine points for the Bengals who have lost ten of their last eleven games heading into Friday night’s matchup at Magruder.
Northwest, who earned their second win in three games, plays host to Blair on Friday night.

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