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Ferguson savors surpassing Brown

By GREG AUMAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 13, 2001


SPRING HILL -- Steve Ferguson remembers looking at a list of Springstead's all-time leading scorers before his senior season began.

He stopped, did the math in his head and realized that even with two years as a starter behind him, it wouldn't be easy to reach the top.

"I saw the points that I needed and thought, "Man, that's far away," Ferguson said. "I never really thought about it much again until the coaches told me I was close."

Ferguson became the fifth player to score 1,000 career points last month, and set the scoring mark Tuesday in Springstead's regular-season finale against Citrus.

With 1,109 points, he surpassed the record held by Anthony Brown (1,105) since 1989.

The top three players on Springstead's scoring list before Ferguson were teammates from 1986-89.

Former Eagles coach Greg O'Connell, who guided the team then and coached Ferguson for two years before retiring last season, said his accomplishment is more impressive because he wasn't surrounded by the level of talent that Brown had with him.

"Steven has had to work a little harder, in the sense that people knew him and if they were trying to key on somebody, they could do that," O'Connell said.

"When you have two other people that can really score too, you couldn't say, "Well, I'm going to key on Anthony Brown tonight,' because you couldn't leave Brandon Curtis and Don Diedrick alone like that," O'Connell said.

O'Connell said he knew during Ferguson's sophomore year that he would have a chance to break the school scoring mark. When he called his son, Ryan, earlier this season to let him know that Ferguson had broken his single-game record of 43 points, his son's response was, "Why did he take so long?"

While Ferguson's rise through Springstead's record books was hardly a surprise, the unselfishness with which he handled the honor was what most impressed his current coach.

"It's the biggest personal honor you can ever see, and for me to see him talking about the team and how they made it possible, especially when you consider the way athletes are portrayed these days, it made me proud to coach him," said Scott Bennett, whose squad will open the Class 4A, District 8 Tournament against Central on Wednesday.

"I told him that if I was on a team with someone who did something like that and gave it back to his teammates the way he did, there really wasn't much I wouldn't do for him."

Ferguson said the Eagles (14-11) have become a much closer team as the season progressed. The best part of his record, he said, was that in came as part of Springstead's third straight win.

He thinks it's only naturalto give his teammates credit for something they've been a major part of all season. "What's good if you don't have someone to share it with?" Ferguson said. "I'm sharing it with the rest of my team because they helped me get it. We're having fun, playing with a lot of heart."

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