Dwain Winkfield has volunteered to soon perform community service, he serves as an usher at church and, like last year, some lucky little guy will benefit from his mentoring skills in a big brother program.

In basketball, though he's not quite 6-3, Winkfield willingly plays center for a Martin Luther King High squad that is lacking in overall height.

"I'm a helpful person," he said, smiling.

Yesterday, over the final 1:36 in a Public A game that mixed sloppy play with numerous entertaining moments, this was the word to best describe how Winkfield felt: helpless.

Well, that and confused, at least to start.

"You could see how aggravated I was," Winkfield said. "I couldn't believe my coach was taking me out. I was sitting by myself [at the end of the bench] for a moment. I was saying to the other guys, 'Why I am here?! This is the most important part of the game!' "

Well, Dwain, there's this rule in high school basketball. Your chance to participate ends the moment you commit your fifth foul.

"My teammates finally told me," he said. " 'Coach didn't take you out. You fouled out.' I didn't hear the refs say anything about that. Really, I didn't know I had four before they called that charging on me. To have to sit down with the game on the line, that's frustrating. In these last two seasons, that's only the second time it happened."

King 65, Germantown 63.

"I thought maybe they were gonna get us," Winkfield said. "That was tight. All I kept saying was, 'I need to be out there helping us.' "

Winkfield finished with 16 points, 14 rebounds, three assists, two blocked shots and one reason to feel very nervous in the waning moments.

With 4.5 seconds showing, King guard Alex Gaddy missed a front end of a one-and-one and G-town's Mike Wilson claimed the rebound in a scramble, calling time at 2.4. Brandon Kemp was the inbounder. Two nearby guys were well covered, so Kemp had to fire the ball to Wilson, who was standing at halfcourt in front of the scorers' table.

The lefty bent his legs and launched. The aim was perfect. Another two feet of length and the Bears, who had roared back from an 11-point deficit over the final 6 minutes, would have celebrated a miraculous win.

"Turnovers were killing us. Just dumb mistakes," Winkfield said.

He probably was guilty a time or two. Then again, maybe not.

Winkfield showed a highly desirable trait - aggressiveness mixed with smarts and control. While shooting 7-for-10 from the floor, he forced nothing and worked well with the Cougars' two other mainstays, forward Antonio Wormley (17 points, 13 boards, four assists) and Gaddy (15 points, three assists, eight steals).

As a seventh-grader, Winkfield played for a Wagner team that captured the city's middle-school championship. Among his teammates were two players, Simon Gratz guard Josh Martin and Cardinal Dougherty forward Roberto Townsend, who concluded strong careers last winter.

That was his first year playing ball.

"My dad, Dwain Sr., always claims he was great as a kid," Dwain Jr. said. "But he didn't follow through in high school. He works with me now, making sure I do the right things.

"Really, I don't think of myself as a scorer. I care more about defense and doing those little things a team needs. If I don't get many shots, that's OK, I'm still going to work hard. People always say I play bigger than I am. That's nice to hear."

Winkfield offered the game's most spectacular sequence. After making a great move, he tumbled over the baseline and was momentarily tangled with a Bear. He quickly got up, raced downcourt and swatted a layup by Khalief Mason.

Mason, a classic waterbug listed at 5-6 but likely shorter, was outstanding. He made his last five shots en route to 24 points, while adding four assists and six steals. Ralph Jarvis and Ramadan Abdullah also were vital in the late rally.

Winkfield, who lives near Stenton and Ogontz, earns A's and B's in the classroom and entered the year ranked 38th in his class. Schools at the Division II and III levels are interested, and even Drexel has made contact.

"I have Dwain in class," said Mike George, King's first-year coach. "Great kid. What you see here is what he is."

A year ago, Winkfield served as a big brother to a youngster named Justin.

"He was maybe 7or 8," Dwain said. "We got along great. I could tell he respected me. The things I told him, I know they helped. I'm looking forward to doing that again."

And to collecting more wins. With 32-minute involvement. *