LeAndre Wright couldn’t quite explain last week’s comeback wins that have the Everett boys basketball team still in the mix for a state title.
But what the Everett senior did know as he stood in the middle of the postgame celebration at Mason High School last week was how good it felt to still be playing.
It feels even better for Wright as he looks back at where the Vikings (15-10) came from to reach Tuesday’s Class A state quarterfinal against Hudsonville (19-5) at Eastern’s Don Johnson Fieldhouse.
“I don’t know what it is, but we’re just a good fight back team and we all come together at the end,” Wright said. “I don’t know what it is, but it’s just a good feeling.
“(The regional title) means a lot – especially coming into the tournament as a 10-10 team. It means a lot.”
Wright and senior guard Jamyrin Jackson have been the leaders during a state tournament run for Everett that has reached the final week of the boys basketball season for a second straight year.
And the Vikings have navigated themselves to this point despite a regular season that didn’t go nearly as planned. They’ve also done it despite losing Mr. Basketball finalist Trevor Manuel and six other seniors from last year’s team that reached the state semifinals.
Everett coach Desmond Ferguson always believed the Vikings had this kind of potential this season. But reaching that potential was a little difficult for him to envision entering the state tournament after an up and down regular season where the Vikings never put together a complete game.
“Just being honest, from where we were at two and a half to three weeks ago to where we are now is a huge turnaround,” Ferguson said. “I didn’t necessarily know we could do that turnaround in that short amount of time. I really expected us to play how we’re playing now at least at some point in the season. We didn’t really play like we’re playing now at no time in the regular season. Usually things don’t happen like that.
“You create some good habits and some bad habits somewhere along the line and the switch really turned on with our guys. They’ve really come together and played defense like how we’re supposed to play it and how we should play it. Everything else kind of fell in line after that. That’s what we’re about – we’re first and foremost about defense and we weren’t defending like we should have early in the season. To the guys credit, they’ve bonded and they are making it happen as of late.”
Jackson and Wright point to a meeting that followed the regular season for setting the tone for what has transpired the last two weeks.
“Since that meeting, everybody’s attitude has been positive,” Jackson said. “The regular season, everything was negative and we were pointing fingers at each other. Coming into the postseason everything was positive and everything was together. That meeting was all about encouraging each other.
“We just came together as a team.”
Ferguson has been proud of the way his team has come together to make the most of their fresh start. And the hope for the Vikings is they can use their momentum to finish their postseason run with a state title.
“When we’re able to get to the point we are now with the quarterfinals, people don’t necessarily know or pay attention to what you did in the regular season,” Ferguson said. “It’s ‘Oh, Everett is back to where they were last year.’ We’re not as deep or as talented as we were last year, but LeAndre is the heart and soul of our team. Jamyrin has played well obviously the last two Marches. When you’ve got guys that lead and believe, anything is possible.”
Contact Brian Calloway at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @brian_calloway.
BOYS BASKETBALL QUARTERFINALS
At Don Johnson Fieldhouse: Everett (15-10) vs. Hudsonvllle (19-5), 7 p.m.
At Charlotte: Williamston (20-3) vs. River Rouge (22-3), 7 p.m.
At Troy Athens: Ithaca (23-2) vs. Flint Beecher (22-2), 7 p.m.
At Traverse City West: Fulton (18-6) vs. Bellaire (24-1), 6 p.m.