Roy Westmore always is looking ahead.
In his first two years as head basketball coach at tradition-rich Dunbar, Westmore compiled a 41-13 record, won the Interhigh League title two years ago and made the playoffs last year. This was no small task for a new coach in the always competitive District public school league.
Going into what Westmore and his players refer to as the biggest single week of the season, the sixth-ranked Crimson Tide were 15-2 and one game behind Coolidge in the league title race with seven games remaining.
Dunbar played McKinley Tuesday and will meet Coolidge Friday at Wilson at 8.
Even though the Dunbar season may depend on how well his team fares in the two games this week, Westmore hasn't wavered from his low-key philosophy of building for the future.
"I don't feel any great pressure to win each time we go out. It's more important to play the underclassmen in those big games so I can see how they will react in certain situations," he said.
"You won't always have seniors. We've been using eight or nine players every game to get them ready for those situations. My goal is to teach each player the skills necessary for him to enter college prepared for that level. And as long as the kids leave prepared, I'm satisfied.
"I've been very fortunate to have great support from the administration. Principal (Eva) Roussaint and the entire administration have put in tireless efforts to help our program, and the kids want to win for them and the student body as much as they want to win for themselves."
Westmore's theory has reaped wonderful benefits. After gaining the league title in his first year and rebuilding last year, the Florida native has the Tide playing superbly this year.
Dunbar has talent, height, quickness, depth and the killer instinct. Led by junior jump shooters Tyrone Gibson, Dion Lewis and Anthony Beagle, Dunbar is the highest-scoring team in the metropolitan area, averaging 83 points per game.
"We've played much better as a team this year and we don't depend on one player (Darryl Prue, now at West Virginia) like we did the last two years," said forward John Sanders, a senior cocaptain. "The two games we lost, the pieces just wouldn't fit."
Point guard Donald Hawkins, also a senior cocaptain, said the losses to Coolidge (81-67) and H.D. Woodson (62-60) only served to convince the team that it needed to continue to work just as hard as it did when it won the first 11 games this season.
"We've had a couple of good games since the loss to Woodson and I can see the confidence and enthusiasm is still there," Hawkins said. "We're back on track again."
"The kids know their playing time is dictated by their work ethic in practice," Westmore said. "We expect to challenge for the championship every year and we want no letdowns ever. I've been pleased with their overall play and unselfishness on the court. Our defense hasn't been as sharp in some instances and we still don't have that seasoning I would like to see yet."
Westmore doesn't ask any one player to do everything. The 6-foot-1 Hawkins splits time with 6-0 sophomore Cory Royster at the point; 6-4 Sanders is relieved by 6-6 junior Kevin Sams or 6-8 junior Mark Scott. Another sophomore, 6-0 Tracy Jordan, gets playing time when either the 6-3 Beagle or the 6-1 Gibson need a breather.
Gibson is averaging 18.1 points per game, Beagle is averaging 15.4 points and Lewis is averaging 13.5. Beagle and Lewis are the top rebounders.
"On any night, Beagle, Lewis or Gibson will carry us offensively," Westmore. "When all three are going good, look out. Because we have so many underclassmen, we will often have five players on the court who will be back next year. Those players will see a lot of game time."