LANSING – Nyreel Powell wasn’t going to let it happen.
The senior refused to be sent home after just one game in the state tournament.
And he helped make sure Everett lived to see another day.
Powell had 10 points in the final quarter and hit the go-ahead basket with roughly 35 seconds remaining as the Vikings pulled out a 52-49 victory over DeWitt in a Class A district semifinal at Don Johnson Fieldhouse on Wednesday.
“It was a tough one,” Everett coach Desmond Ferguson said. “We made it harder than we had to. We didn’t play smart. We had a lot of turnovers, but ultimately we were able to get some key stops and get a win. You’ve got to give DeWitt credit after we beat them the last game of the regular season. They really fought and competed and had us down late.
“I’m proud of my guys being able to overcome a little adversity and fight. We’ve been going through adversity all year and fortunately we’ve got a few guys that have kind of been there and done that.”
BOYS HOOPS DISTRICT SEMIFINALS:
Powell is one of those guys that has been part of back-to-back runs to the Class A state semifinals at Breslin Center for Everett. And the Viking leader played like a veteran, finishing with 17 points. He made some key free throws in the final three minutes for the Vikings (13-8). Powell also hit the go-ahead shot after Luke Hyde had hit a free throw to give the Panthers a 47-46 lead with 48.1 seconds remaining.
“In my head, I was thinking I had to put the team on my back and I just can’t lose,” Powell said. “It was not an option. I just couldn’t lose. My goal is to get where I was at the last two years. I have to accomplish that goal my senior year.”
Ferguson was proud of the way Powell bounced back from some earlier missed free throws to deliver when it mattered most.
“I’m going to live and die with Nyreel because he’s done so much for us during his time on varsity these last three years,” Ferguson said. “I know eventually his toughness is going to overtake everything. If he misses, he’s going to tough it out and knock something down. He did that.”
Dante Walton added 14 points and Diego Robinson scored 12 for Everett, which advances to Friday’s district final to face CAAC Blue champion and No. 2-ranked East Lansing.
“We kind of had an up-and-down season and this is what we’ve been working toward,” Everett guard Jalen Hayes said.
Tanner Reha finished with 15 points and Hyde had 14 points for DeWitt, which closes the season 11-10.
East Lansing posted a 57-45 victory over Waverly in the other district semifinal Wednesday.
Contact Brian Calloway at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @brian_calloway