LANSING – Nyreel Powell has been part of plenty of winning for the Everett basketball program the last two years.
And the scrappy senior guard and Vikings captain hopes to be part of plenty more in his final season.
Powell helped Everett get its season off to a good start Friday night by sparking a second-half surge in a 59-51 victory over Grand Ledge in a CAAC Blue contest at Earvin Magic Johnson Gymnasium.
Powell scored all 14 of his points in the final quarter to help the Vikings emerge with a victory after they trailed a majority of the opening half.
“Not only is he a senior captain, but he’s a three-year varsity player,” Everett coach Desmond Ferguson said. “He knows nothing but winning and he has a winning attitude and a big heart. He’s the anchor and the head of the snake in our defense. Once he goes out there and is causing havoc and getting steals and forcing turnovers, it just helps us all over.”
Senior guard Jalen Hayes added 16 points off the bench for Everett, which outscored Grand Ledge 43-25 in the second half behind its backcourt tandem.
“The first half wasn’t so good for us,” Powell said. “Shots weren’t falling and we had bad communication on defense. (In) the second half we had to turn up.”
Ferguson noticed an intensity increase after the intermission as his team made things happen with its defense and made some outside shots while quickly erasing a 10-point halftime deficit.
“That’s Everett basketball,” Ferguson said. “We’ve got to defend and we’ve got to be scrappy and we’ve got to get turnovers that lead to easy buckets. We just didn’t have the intensity that we needed in the first half. We came out of halftime and started playing like we’re capable of playing.”
Grand Ledge and Everett were tied at 41 with 6:01 remaining after Luke Smith, who had 15 points, hit a free throw following a technical for the Comets (0-2). But the Vikings countered with a 10-2 run over the next three minutes that featured six points from Powell to take control.
“We’re walking out of here not happy, but I’m proud of the effort and the fight,” Grand Ledge coach Scott Lewis said. “(Everett) is a team that was picked to finish four or five spots in the conference ahead of us and we had them down 10. We just didn’t close. Part of that is on us as a coaching staff. We’re kind of figuring this team out and what we need to work on.”
Contact Brian Calloway at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @brian_calloway.