Steve Ferguson will leave Springstead as its all-time leading scorer and with the satisfaction of helping a new coach make "it come together.''
By GREG AUMAN
© St. Petersburg Times, published March 11, 2001
When first-year coach Scott Bennett came to Springstead, he brought a new system to a nearly new lineup.
Senior forward Steve Ferguson was the only returning starter from the Eagles' first district championship team.
Adjustments took a while, and in a 1-4 start, Ferguson hit only 27 percent of his shots.
Bennett was implementing an aggressive man-to-man defense and sought a way to feature Fergu- son while building the supporting cast around him.
"Switching systems, it took us a while to get on the same page," said Bennett, whose team rebounded to win four straight games with Ferguson leading the way.
The 6-foot-4 forward exploded for a school-record 45 points Dec. 21 in a rout of Zephyrhills, including 22 points in the fourth quarter.
The outburst continued with a 36-point effort in a double-overtime victory against River Ridge. That performance included two free throws with no time left in regulation to force OT.
Springstead opened the new year with a winning record and hovered around .500. In retrospect, Bennett said Ferguson's best game wasn't the record-breaker against a winless team but a 40-point showing in a loss to South Sumter.
"He put up 40, but it wasn't like he took 100 shots," Bennett said. "He went 15 of 23 from the field, hit 12 of 15 twos and went 7 of 10 from the line. Because of that, we were able to put 80 on South Sumter, so that meant a lot more."
There were more meaningful moments. On Jan. 27, Ferguson became the fifth player in school history to score 1,000 points. Nine days later, he became the Eagles' all-time leading scorer, breaking the mark set by Anthony Brown in 1989.
The only thing missing for Ferguson was a proper ending to a record career. Springstead was upset by Central in the district opener, and Ferguson was held to six points in his final game. That's not to say his playing days are over. In addition to leading Springstead's track team this spring, Ferguson is considering several college options, including Maryville -- an NCAA Division III school in Tennessee that averaged better than 20 wins a year in the 1990s.
Ferguson said what he will remember most from his last season isn't records or milestones, but the way the Eagles came together as a team. "Just that feeling, when everybody was playing together," Ferguson said. "Not just in games, but locker-room time, at practice and afterwards. Everyone was getting the way it's supposed to go, and it all come together."
CENTER: Chris Jackson, Sr., Lecanto -- Averaged team-high 15 points and 10 rebounds a game, helped the Panthers claim their first Gulf Coast Athletic Conference title.
GUARD: Frankie Squire, Sr., Seven Rivers Christian -- One of the area's top outside shooters, scored 1,299 career points. Averaged 17 points, with 22 or more in three of last four games.
GUARD: Chris Vihrachoff, Jr., Citrus -- Three-year letterman averaged 17.1 points and led team in assists (5.2), scored career-best 35 points with school-record 10 three-pointers in January.
GUARD: Jerrell Graham, Jr., Hernando -- Finished breakout season with 34 points in district semifinal victory that put Leopards in playoffs for only second time in 24 years.
FORWARD: Steve Ferguson, Sr., Springstead -- Set school record for points in a game (45) and career, leading Eagles in points (18.6), finishing second in rebounds (6.8), assists (2.2).
CENTRAL: Josh Scott, Jr., F; Willie Winslett Jr., Jr., C.
CITRUS: Jamal Galloway, Fr., G; Joel Miller, So., G.
CRYSTAL RIVER: Ryan Ludwick, So., G.
HERNANDO: Carlton Norton, Sr., F;
LECANTO: Curtis Laytart, Jr., F; Dalton Meyers, Jr., F; R.J. McIntyre, Sr., G.
SEVEN RIVERS CHRISTIAN: Bob Adams, Sr., F.
SPRINGSTEAD: Garrett Gajdusek, Sr., C.
Seven Rivers 16-13
Crystal River 1-22