Palm Beach Central Boys Basketball Squad A Work In Progress

Senior Leo Puckering is a tenacious defender. Photo by Gene Nardi

In basketball, what’s most important is how a team finishes the season. That’s important to keep in mind when looking at the Palm Beach Central High School varsity boys basketball program. So far this year, the Broncos have split their first four games — winning two and losing two.

The Broncos opened the season on a positive note, winning a pair of district home games. They defeated Palm Beach Lakes 68-65 on Dec. 9 and outscored Jupiter 54-48 on Dec. 11. But in the days leading up to the holiday break, Palm Beach Central dropped two non-district games — losing 61-39 at William T. Dwyer on Dec. 16 and falling 66-56 at Santaluces on Dec. 18.

The Broncos open up the 2021 portion of the schedule on Tuesday, Jan. 5 when they host local rival Royal Palm Beach High School in a district clash.

Palm Beach Central head coach Jason Pitman, now in his eighth year leading the Broncos, is cautiously optimistic that his 12-player squad will continue to improve.

In order for the Broncos to have a great season, Pitman is looking for leadership from his 10 upperclassmen — six seniors and four juniors. He expects a little more leadership from the top five returning players from last year. The other two varsity players this year are a pair of freshmen.

Those five returning players from last year’s squad are junior Andrew Frection, senior Max Cedeno, senior Leo Puckering, senior Jenerrian Cross and senior Danny Potter.

Pitman believes that Frection can be a dominant player in every game.

“Andrew is a strong post player and a great rebounder,” Pitman said. “My hope is that he is our leading scorer and rebounder in every game.”

Pitman noted that Cedeno understands how to get to the rim with the ball while also understanding the importance of playing strong defense.

“Max is a playmaker and creator, and he guards the perimeter well on defense,” Pitman said.

According to Pitman, Puckering is an extremely aggressive player on both ends of the basketball court.

“Leo is our sixth man and is a tenacious defender,” Pitman said. “Leo is a hard-working player who plays the full court. He can score, too, as he had 22 against Jupiter.”

Cross, who stands 6-foot-1 and can play either guard or forward, is committed to excellence in basketball.

“Jennerian has really improved from last year,” Pitman said. “He is a really good shooter.”

Few teams have a player on the roster like senior Potter, so Pitman considers himself fortunate to have him on the squad.

“Danny is one of our key reserves,” Pitman said. “He is a vocal leader, who plays hard, and can play the post since he is tall (6-foot-3).”

The other seven players on the team — senior Rayvin St. Louis, junior Frantz Jules, junior Sergio Hayes, junior Timothy White, junior Kendall Seguignol, and freshmen David Nelson and Jaelen Nelson (not related) — are new to the varsity boys basketball squad, but Pitman is confident that they will all contribute to the team’s success this year.

“Those seven players are new to the varsity team at Palm Beach Central,” Pitman said. “The presence of the pandemic has hurt their development, but they are all working hard and trying to find their way. They all have a great attitude.”

Defensively, Pitman’s squad will use four or five defenses throughout the season, though Palm Beach Central’s main defense will enable the Broncos to challenge every one of their opponents this year.

“Primarily, we play a man-to-man defense,” Pitman said. “It gives us a great chance to win.”

With a reduced 15-game regular season schedule, down from normally 25 regular season games due to COVID-19, it’s time for the Palm Beach Central Broncos to start transforming an acceptable 2-2 start to a winning finish. It all starts at 7:30 p.m. when the Broncos host the Royal Palm Beach Wildcats on Tuesday, Jan. 5.