There are a couple of things you can expect when Episcopal and The Dunham School square off in boys basketball.
First, it’s always close. Second, there may be several players primed to take on a lead role.
With the game on the line, the Knights had an unlikely hero — senior Gavin Perkins. With 30.5 seconds left Perkins made two rainbow free throws that helped Episcopal take a 53-50 victory in a pivotal District 8-2A game played Friday night at EHS.
It didn’t matter that Perkins has had some free-throw struggles or that he missed two free throws just 32 seconds earlier.
“The first time, I was nervous,” Perkins said. “The second time, the nerves just went away. I felt calm and I blocked everything out.”
Dunham had cut the Episcopal lead to one point, thanks to two free throws by Ben Bernhard. The Knights’ top scorer, Chris Beckman Jr., who scored a game-high 22 points, had fouled out with 40.4 seconds to go, leading to Bernhard’s free throws.
“Typical Dunham-Episcopal game,” Episcopal coach Chris Beckman Sr. said. “We jumped out early and then stopped doing some of things that helped get us the lead.
“But I’m proud of them. With Chris (Beckman Jr.) on the bench some other guys stepped up and made plays.”
Beckman Jr. was the only player in double figures for Episcopal (26-4, 6-1). Jordan Wright led Dunham (25-5, 6-1) with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Kevin Tripeaux added seven points and a game-high 12 rebounds.
Episcopal got off to red-hot start, making 8 of 13 from the field in the first quarter. The Knights led 19-3 going into the second quarter. Dunham gradually started to chip away at the Episcopal lead, cutting it to 11 points by halftime and six after three quarters.
The score was tied twice in the fourth quarter. A layup by Wright made it 38-38 with 4:51 remaining. Eventually, the Knights took a 44-40 lead on two free throws each by Beckman Jr. and Dumas.
A layup by Beckman off a pass from Tripeaux made it 46-40 with two minutes remaining. Bernhard and Travis Myers each hit a 3-pointer to power a lightning quick 8-3 Dunham run that set up the pulsating final minute.
While Perkins, who finished with six points made the two crucial free throws, Dunham missed the front end of three one-and-one opportuntities.
“Ultimately, that slow start is what cost us the game,” Dunham coach Jonathan Pixley said. “But I’m proud of them. They battled to get back in the game.
“They’re learning. You know neither team is going to give up when Dunham and Episcopal play. This one was no exception.”
EPISCOPAL 44, DUNHAM 25: A 9-0 fourth-quarter run helped Episcopal (21-7, 8-0) break the game open.
Chelsea Singleton and Mary Beth Barksdale finished with 14 points each to help power the Knights as they clinched their own 8-2A title.
“Dunham beat us early in the year in the St. Martin’s tournament earlier this year and I knew they wanted to win the district title as much as we did,” Episcopal coach Mike Kuhn said. “It was a lot like the last game we played against them. It was close through the third quarter and then we managed to stretch things out. We played good defense, which is always so important.”
Michiko Jackson and Aisha Brady each had six points for Dunham (21-10, 6-2). Singleton had two baskets during the pivotal run for the Knights.