OXON HILL – In the last minute of a competitive matchup between the Potomac and Fairmont Heights boys basketball teams on Jan. 10, the score was tied, 65-65.
However, the Wolverines, strong-willed and unyielding, showed just how determined they were not to walk away with a loss. In the final minute, Potomac pulled down crucial rebounds and hit free throws to pull away in the game’s final moments.
Jordan Beckett registered 19 points, 10 rebounds and three assists, and senior guard Duane Mason racked up four 3-pointers on his way to a 19-point night to lift Potomac to a 71-65 win over Fairmont Heights.
Potomac Head Coach Renard Johnson credited Beckett, a senior power forward, for his leadership and taking charge at the last minute to win their seventh straight game.
“One thing about Jordan Beckett I’ve noticed in these seven games; when the situation gets tight, and the lights are the brightest, he shines the highest,” Johnson said. “You get certain guys that just like big moments, and he wasn’t going to let us lose.”
Early on, the game was scrappy as the Wolverines and Hornets used physicality limit scoring. Potomac took its first lead, 11-9, when Beckett knifed his way through the defense for a lay-in at the end of the first quarter. Fairmont Heights struck back quickly to take a 3-point lead to end the frame.
Sophomore forward Derrick Key was crucial for the Hornets in the first half with his rebounding but missed free throws and other miscues kept Fairmont Heights from maintaining a lead. Beckett poured in 14 points, and Mason scored 11 to power the Wolverines to a 37-29 halftime lead to reverse the momentum.
Fairmont Heights guard Keyshawn Johnson was huge for his team in the third quarter. The senior found gaps through Potomac’s zone defense to hit three vital 3-pointers to keep the matchup interesting.
Though Johnson carried the Hornets in the third quarter, Potomac used two dunks late in the quarter to rally the exuberant crowd in Oxon Hill. Beckett received an outlet pass from Corey Dyches to throw down a one-handed slam. To conclude the third quarter, Dyches threw another upcourt pass to Miquel Beasley, who also threw down a monstrous one-handed slam to give the Wolverines a 55-49 lead.
The level of physicality intensified in the fourth quarter with Potomac and Fairmont Heights exchanging several fouls, going bucket for bucket, and the crowd getting louder.
After begin fouled on a 3-pointer, Johnson hit all three shots from the charity stripe to put Fairmont Heights up 65-64 with 1:43 remaining. The score was tied, 65-65, when Mason drew a foul and made 1 of 2 from the free-throw line, leaving the fate of the game in the final minute.
Elijah Crawford drove in for a right-hand layup to put Potomac 67-65. Johnson dribbled down the court and tried to respond with a go-ahead 3-pointer, but shot an air ball to give possession back to the Wolverines with 37.8 seconds remaining.
Mason was able to draw another foul and knocked down both free throws to make it a two-possession game.
The Hornets had one more chance to respond, but mishandled the ball, causing a turnover to seal the win for the Wolverines. The loose ball ended up in the hands of Beasley, who exploded off the floor for a two-handed dunk to put an exclamation point on the victory.
Dyches, who fouled out of the game, finished with eight points, seven boards, four assists, and three steals to help Potomac (8-0) remain undefeated.
“Coming into this game, we definitely just wanted to jump on it, and definitely defend, rebound, and go out here and score and get the W,” said Beckett, a 6-foot-1 senior. He added that defending Johnson at the last minute was vital in sealing the win.
“Keyshawn is a great player; he’s a friend of mine. We wanted to run him off the line; we wanted to stay down and rebound the ball,” Beckett said. “The main thing going down the stretch was defense and rebounding.”
Johnson led all scorers with 20 points, Delonte Raynor recorded 13 points and seven rebounds, and Key finished with 12 points and seven rebounds for the Hornets, who fell to 7-2 with the loss. Although Head Coach Chuck Henry wishes his team could’ve done a few things differently in decisive moments of the game, he said the Hornets can only go up from here.
“Winning plays; we just didn’t make enough of them,” Henry said. “Those guys (Potomac) made enough winning plays down the stretch. Moving forward, we’ll do some things to try to show those things up and be a little bit more committed to making the right play for Fairmont Heights.”
Potomac continued their hot streak by clobbering Theodore Roosevelt (Washington, D.C.), 99-60, at the Box Out Cancer showcase on Jan. 11 at Frederick Douglass High School.
“When the season started, we were on nobody’s radar screen,” Johnson said. “We’ve been battle-tested, and if we don’t get any respect by now, it’s just not meant for us.”