Dunbar’s Kenneth Beckham makes most of his second chance

Host B.J. Koubaroulis runs through the top plays from high school basketball games in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. (Nick Plum for Synthesis/Koubaroulis LLC./The Washington Post)

Three nights after he missed a potential game-tying three-pointer against No. 5 Theodore Roosevelt, Kenneth Beckham’s opportunity at redemption arrived in the final seconds against Bell on Friday. With the game tied at 66, Dunbar’s standout guard held the ball at the top of the key until seven seconds were left on the clock, then drove and pulled up from 20 feet out, drilling the long ball for a 69-66 win.

“Shot against Bell, it was like a heartbreaker . . . big shot,” Beckham said. “Against Bell, we had a better look at the shot. Better time, better focus.”

Rarely does a player get a chance at a last-second, game-changing shot in two games during the same week. But Beckham, a 6-1 junior who is averaging 20.8 points per game, is still ruminating over the missed shot against Theodore Roosevelt. Had Dunbar won, it would’ve been perhaps the upset of the year in the DCIAA, but it also would’ve been a benchmark in Beckham’s grand plan, which is to establish himself as one of the best players in the city and make Dunbar relevant in the city title chase before he leaves the school.

Part one of Beckham’s goal has mostly been accomplished. He has scored in double-figures in each game this season, and had 34 points in his head-to-head matchup with Bell’s talented guard Devin Shuler, who finished with 29 points and went back and forth with Beckham for most of the evening.

But the second and most important portion of Beckham’s plan, to get Dunbar into the hunt, is a work in progress. Not that the team has been lackluster — in addition to the aforementioned loss to Theodore Roosevelt, the Crimson Tide has dropped close calls to DuVal, National Collegiate and Heritage Lynchburg in the last two weeks, and still have two-game sets against No. 15 Coolidge and Wilson later this winter, as well as a rematch against the Rough Riders.

Even though Dunbar is a long-shot to contend in the DCIAA West, Coach Damon Singletary has one of the league’s gems in Beckham, and that means his team is dangerous in any game it plays. He admits that he is asking a lot from Beckham at this juncture in the season; he moved his top player to handle the point guard duties for the Crimson Tide a few weeks ago, and the transition hasn’t been always smooth because Beckham is still expected to shoulder the scoring load (junior Delonte Matthews is the only other player posting in double-figures scoring) and he often guards the opponents best offensive player on the defensive end. But last week’s dramatic finishes are just the beginning of the program’s planned run, according to Beckham.

“Anything can happen for us right now,” Beckham said. “I’m working my hardest to get Dunbar back on the map.”

Roman Stubbs covers the University of Maryland athletics for The Washington Post.

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