It’s been awhile since Everett has been involved in meaningful basketball games.
Desmond Ferguson has changed that.
The former Vikings star and professional basketball player has helped make his alma mater relevant on the hardwood once again.
Ferguson has revived an Everett boys basketball program that’s struggled much of the last decade and has it in contention for a conference championship.
“I think sometimes we always focus on the final destination and sometimes we don’t appreciate the journey,” said Ferguson, who is in his third year coaching the Vikings. “Everett basketball the last six, seven years has been down and it’s a good feeling to know that we’re back in hunt with a possibility to win a conference championship, which hasn’t been done in awhile. I’m proud of the guys and the hard work they’ve put in over the summer and the last couple of years to overcome some of those struggles.”
Ferguson believes the 2004 Class A state championship team coached by Johnny Jones that featured Goran Suton and Derick Nelson was the last at Everett to win a conference title. The Vikings have an opportunity to take a step toward ending that drought Friday when they travel to Grand Ledge in a CAAC Blue showdown and battle of Class A top-10 teams.
No. 8-ranked Grand Ledge (16-0, 11-0 CAAC Blue) is the area’s lone unbeaten boys team and can earn a share of the conference title with a win Friday. No. 10 Everett (14-2, 10-1) will try to prevent that from happening and improve its title chances.
“It would just be an amazing experience just to bring something good like that back to our city,” Everett senior guard Deshae Doll said of a league title.
A league championship would be especially rewarding for players like Doll and Marvin Wright Jr., who have endured the program’s struggles. Doll is in his fourth year on varsity and finally experiencing a winning season. The Vikings won a combined 17 games in Doll’s first three seasons on varsity and could match that total in the regular season.
“This year is just like a big turnaround,” Doll said. “Every year I’ve played it’s just been a struggle at getting better. We’ve finally just got the right pieces.”
Those pieces include one of the state’s top players in forward Trevor Manuel, who transferred to Everett after playing last season at Oak Hill Academy. The Oregon-bound Manuel and junior guard Jamyrin Jackson have been among the players that have helped the Vikings breakthrough this season.
“Last year we were losing games by two points, three points, five points. With the juniors coming up and even the sophomores we knew we had a good team,” Wright said. “When Trevor came in it just boosted us to a whole ‘nother level.”
Everett hopes that level will include a conference title, and avenging last month’s home loss to the Comets can help them get there. J.T. Houghton’s hot-shooting fourth quarter in front of a large crowd at Earvin “Magic” Johnson Gymnasium helped Grand Ledge hand the Vikings their only home loss. Everett has won eight straight since to set up Friday’s big game.
“Since the night we lost we’ve been looking forward to this,” Wright said. “We had to take it game-by-game to get to the point where this game meant something. Now that it’s here we’re very excited to play them.”
Haslett at Waverly, 6 p.m.
Mason at St. Johns, 6 p.m.
Eastern at Jackson, 6 p.m.
Potterville at Portland St. Patrick, 6 p.m.
Ionia at Eaton Rapids, 6 p.m.
Holt at Okemos, 6 p.m.
Everett at Grand Ledge, 6 p.m.
Portland at Williamston, 6 p.m.
East Lansing at Sexton, 6 p.m.
Owosso at Dewitt, 6 p.m.
Fowlerville at Lansing Catholic, 6 p.m.
Olivet at Leslie, 7 p.m.
Saranac at Laingsburg, 7 p.m.
Lansing Christian at Stockbridge, 7 p.m.
Bendle at Corunna, 7 p.m.
Maple Valley at Lakewood, 7 p.m.
Montabella at Carson City-Crystal, 7:30 p.m.
Fulton at Dansville, 7:30 p.m.
Ovid-Elsie at Freeland, 7:30 p.m.
Fowler at Bath, 7:30 p.m.
Ashley at Sacred Heart, 7:30 p.m.
St. Louis at Ithaca, 7:30 p.m.
Hemlock at Alma, 7:30 p.m.
Pennfield at Charlotte, 7:30 p.m.
Lansing Christian at Stockbridge, 5:30 p.m.
Morrice at Hamady, 5:30 p.m.
Olivet at Leslie, 5:30 p.m.
Maple Valley at Lakewood, 5:30 p.m.
Hemlock at Alma, 6 p.m.
Pennfield at Charlotte, 6 p.m.
Ovid-Elsie at Freeland, 6 p.m.
Fowlerville at Lansing Catholic, 7:30 p.m.
Potterville at Portland St. Patrick, 7:30 p.m.
Portland at Williamston, 7:30 p.m.
Owosso at Dewitt, 7:30 p.m.
Eastern at Jackson, 7:30 p.m.
Holt at Okemos, 7:30 p.m.
Everett at Grand Ledge, 7:30 p.m.
Mason at St. Johns, 7:30 p.m.
East Lansing at Sexton, 7:30 p.m.
Ionia at Eaton Rapids, 7:30 p.m.
Haslett at Waverly, 7:30 p.m.
New Lothrop at Webberville, 7 p.m.