MASON – LeAndre Wright and the Everett boys basketball team may not have reached their potential during the regular season.
But they are intent on making sure they do it in the postseason,
And they’ve managed to use their fresh start in March to do just that.
The latest noise made by Everett came Wednesday night as it rallied to stun Class A No. 3-ranked East Lansing in a regional final at Mason High School.
Wright and Jamyrin Jackson combined for 17 points in the final quarter as the Vikings posted a 54-48 victory over the previously unbeaten Trojans in a matchup of CAAC Blue teams.
“It really feels great,” Everett coach Desmond Ferguson said. “We had struggled with them in the regular season and we were looking forward to this matchup once we knew we were going to play them. They say it’s tough to beat a team three times in a row and these guys really fought. It’s credit to these guys.”
Everett entered Wednesday with the most losses of teams still alive in the Class A tournament. But the Vikings have been focused on not letting their .500 regular season define them in the state tournament and have displayed that the last two weeks.
“That’s how we exactly felt – that we were way better than our record,” said Wright, who had 16 points. “The most I think we could have lost was two games if we would have played like we have in this tournament.”
Everett (15-10) rallied from an eight-point deficit in the final three minutes, closing the contest on a 15-1 run to advance to face Hudsonville in next week’s quarterfinal at Eastern’s Don Johnson Fieldhouse.
The only point for East Lansing in the final three minutes came on a free throw by Caleb Hoekstra.
“It hurts that it has to end right here, but I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything,” said BJ Powell, who had 12 points for the Trojans.
DeAndre’ Robinson had 13 points, while Brandon Johns scored 11 in the season-ending loss for East Lansing (23-1).
“I’m so proud of these guys because one loss doesn’t define your season,” East Lansing coach Steve Finamore said. “It ends it, but it doesn’t define it. When you fail, it doesn’t mean its failure. We worked really hard every day and nobody wins every game – the (Golden State) Warriors found that out.”
East Lansing wasn’t able to close out the contest despite owning a 47-39 advantage in the final three minutes. Everett capitalized on the Trojans’ miscues when they started to try to milk clock to battle back. The Vikings tied the game on a 3 by Jackson with 2:00 remaining that erupted the crowd and led to an East Lansing timeout.
“Clutch, that’s my game,” said Jackson, who had 11 of his game-high 21 points in the fourth quarter. “I feed off that. I wasn’t hitting all my shots, but that shot right there – I had a feeling that was going in. When that went in, the game took care of itself.”
The Trojans had a chance to regain the lead, but didn’t convert two free throws on a technical foul assessed to Everett following a break in play.
Jackson hit a pair of free throws with 45.1 seconds left that gave the Vikings the lead for good. He later hit a pair of free throws with 4.3 seconds remaining that put the finishing touches on Everett’s second straight regional title.
“Obviously we had an up and down regular season, but their heart has been so huge in the postseason,” said Ferguson, whose team rallied from 12 down Monday to reach the regional final. “They are just carrying us – my two seniors Jamyrin and Dre – and everyone has just been following them.”
Contact Brian Calloway at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @brian_calloway.