His development and three victories in a four-game stretch have the team feeling better about the season.
The development of 6-foot-4 sophomore Josh Scott into a legitimate center has coincided with a feel-good finish to Central High's season-gone-wrong.
The Bears' 54-49 victory over reeling Tarpon Springs last week was their third in four games and their fifth district win overall. The only loss in that four-game stretch was a two-point defeat by Pasco.
"That was a good win for us," Central coach John Sedlack said.
Scott scored 22 points against the Spongers _ after netting 16 in a win over Hudson _ and is 0.2 behind Mike O'Connell for the team lead in points per game (7.5).
Scott leads the Bears (6-17) with 5.4 rebounds per game.
Freshman Robert Poole, who had not played organized basketball before this season, continued to develop as a point guard against Tarpon Springs with 11 points, four assists, and four steals.
Central's late rush will be tested tonight at 7 when it hosts district leader Springstead. The Eagles defeated Central 51-29 on Jan. 7 in a game Sedlack said was closer than it appeared.
"The last three minutes they just blew us out of the water," Sedlack said. "We turned it over a bunch of times, Steve Ferguson got a bunch of dunks. It went from 38-29 with about 4 minutes left and then we didn't score a point the rest of the way."
His current team is markedly different than that group, Sedlack said, and not just because young players have taken the place of upperclassmen who left the team.
"I'd be remiss if I said I did not see the improvement," Sedlack said. "I see more cohesiveness. Nothing breeds success like success, and for these kids it's taken a long, long time."
The improvement could make the Bears playoff wild cards, and Sedlack does not mind fostering that perception.
"Regardless of what happens, we'll be 6-6 or 5-7 (in the district)," Sedlack said. "Look at what we did down the stretch. We realize we're playing better. Outside of Springstead, nobody is knocking them dead. We feel like this is almost up for grabs."
SENIOR NIGHT FOR LEOPARDS: Tonight is senior night for Hernando, which plays host to Tarpon Springs at 6:30.
The Leopards' four seniors and their parents will be honored: Jason Byrd, Dan Brown, Aondre Greene and Gabe Taylor. Coach Charlie Williams said with only two games left in the regular season, he's pleased with the way his team is approaching its opponents.
"We're playing hard, and this is the time of year to be playing hard," he said. "We've just lost some close ones all year long."
The latest nail-biter to go against the Leopards was a 45-43 loss to Pasco on Wednesday night. Williams said his players had three shots to tie the game in the closing seconds, but none would fall.
Hernando (12-10, 6-5) should be able to lock up the third seed in the seven-team Class 4A, District 6 tournament. Pasco and Springstead should have the tournament's top two seeds.
STOPPING THE MISTAKES: GCAC rival Citrus is 14-4, but coach Jimmy Thomas said there is much room for improvement. The Hurricanes were to take on Leesburg Thursday night and Thomas was looking for one thing in particular _ few turnovers.
_ Times staff writers Greg Auman and Antonya English contributed to this report.