Nyreel Powell has seen it from both sides.
He’s been part of a team led by a Mr. Basketball finalist that made a state tournament run to the final four at Breslin Center.
And he’s been on a team that underachieved during the regular season that fought its way to the final stages of the Class A tournament.
The senior guard is hoping the latter proves to be the case once again as the Everett boys basketball team attempts to reach Breslin for a third consecutive season.
“Last year we all talked and said we’re not losing,” Powell said. “(It was like) we’re not losing any more and we’re about to make a run. I hope everyone on our team gets that in their head. We’re trying to be like last year’s team. We’re trying to get there (to Breslin) and we’re trying to win it. “
Everett (12-8) is one of two teams from the Lansing area hoping for a third straight trip to Breslin as the boys basketball state tournament gets started next week.
Fulton (11-8) is also in search of another deep tournament run in Class D under coach Todd Walden. The Pirates, who finished fourth in the CMAC, have four of their top six players back from last year’s team that made it to the state semis.
“We feel very fortunate to have made the runs we have,” Walden said. “We’ve been lucky and stayed healthy and had some pretty good players and some good matchups. I think our league schedule has kind of prepared us for that. We feel pretty good if we can get out of the district that we have a chance to make a little run.”
Everett and Fulton will each have to navigate their way out of challenging districts that feature ranked teams if they hope to have a chance for a Breslin return. No. 2-ranked and unbeaten East Lansing is in Everett’s district, while state-ranked Fowler is one of the top challengers to Fulton.
Walden, whose team beat Fowler while winning four of six games to close the regular season, believes the Pirates are starting to play their best as they attempt to make another lengthy run.
Everett coach Desmond Ferguson believes his team has yet to peak. And he hopes the season doesn’t end without that happening.
“Similar to last year, I think we’re better than our record,” Ferguson said. “We didn’t defend like we’re capable of defending and playing our brand of basketball. Having a mix of guys that have been there before as well as new guys, it took a while for everyone to try to get on the same page. I’m hoping we can play our best basketball this time of year.”
Here is an overview of the districts involving Lansing area teams.
CLASS A OWOSSO:CAAC Red champion St. Johns will try to build off its strong regular season and make a run at a district championship. The Redwings will have to get past host Owosso for a third time in order to have a chance at playing for a title. No. 7-ranked Flint Carman-Ainsworth, which went 19-1 and won the Saginaw Valley Association South title, is on the other side of the bracket.
CLASS A AT MASON:Columbia signee Jaron Faulds has helped CAAC Blue runner-up Holt have a strong season. The Rams will try to add to that with a district championship. Okemos played some tight games in the regular season with Holt and looms on the other side of the bracket. Host Mason, which went 8-2 in nonleague games, will try to make some noise on its home floor.
CLASS A AT DON JOHNSON FIELDHOUSE: CAAC Blue champion and No. 2-ranked East Lansing is the team to beat in this district that features four teams that finished .500 or better. CAAC Red runner-up Waverly, which has been led by Jaden Sutton, DeWitt, Grand Ledge and host Everett are also part of this district. Everett is the only team to beat East Lansing since the start of last season and the teams could meet in a district final.
CLASS B AT EATON RAPIDS: Olivet closed the regular season by winning 10 of its last 11 games to earn a share of the GLAC title. The lone loss in that stretch for the Eagles was a two-point setback to Stockbridge, who they face in a semifinal matchup. Leslie also owns a win over Olivet this season and is also part of the field along with host Eaton Rapids. The Greyhounds own victories over the two teams in the district they have faced this season – Jackson Northwest and Leslie.
CLASS B AT CHARLOTTE: No team in this district had a winning record during the regular season, but each will try to make the most of the fresh start the tournament provides. Portland had eight wins in the regular season, which included beating other district participants Lakewood and Ionia. Hastings joins host Charlotte in this field.
CLASS B AT WILLIAMSTON: The CAAC White champion Hornets made a run to Breslin Center under interim coach Tom Lewis last March and will try to take the first step toward returning by winning the district they host. Williamston’s only loss to a Class B school this season came to CAAC White runner-up Lansing Catholic and those teams could meet in the final. Sexton, which won seven of its final eight games, has surged late in the season under first-year coach J. Otis Davis and is among the threats in this field. Haslett and Lansing Catholic each had double figure wins in the regular season and are joined by Eastern and Fowlerville to round out the field.
CLASS B AT SHEPHERD: Levi Lehman has been part of a strong regular season for TVC West champion Ithaca, which is in pursuit of another deep tournament run. Last year’s tourney run for the Yellowjackets came in Class C. TVC Central runner-up Alma is on the other side of this bracket and could face Ithaca for a third time this season in the district final. Alma and Ithaca are the only teams in the field with winning records.
CLASS B AT PERRY: The host Ramblers, Ovid-Elsie, Corunna, Chesaning and GAC Red runner-up Lake Fenton each finished at least .500 this season and will try to challenge for a district title. Carson Vincent has had a big season for Ovid-Elsie, which has the most momentum heading into the district. The Marauders won four of their last five games.
CLASS C AT BATH: CMAC champion and No. 7-ranked Pewamo-Westphalia has been in the top 10 of the Class C poll all season and leads the teams in this field. But the two teams that knocked off the Pirates this season are in this district in the host Bees and MSAC champion Carson City-Crystal. P-W and Carson City-Crystal play to open the district Monday. Dansville and Laingsburg, which tied for second in the CMAC, are also part of this strong field that includes four teams that had at least 14 regular-season wins.
CLASS C AT POTTERVILLE: The host Vikings, Saranac and Maple Valley will try to find success in this district. Delton Kellogg is the only team in this field that compiled a winning record during the regular season.
CLASS D AT WEBBERVILLE: No. 8-ranked Lansing Christian and host Webberville each won league championships and will meet in a district semifinal. Lansing Christian has been ranked in Class D all season and won a share of a title in the GLAC, which features primarily Class B schools. Webberville won the GAC Blue. Morrice is the other local team in this field.
CLASS D AT FULTON: Fulton will be trying to find a way out of this district for a third straight season. No. 10-ranked Fowler has been in the top 10 of the Class D state poll all season and is among the teams that will try to prevent that from happening. Fulton and Fowler are the only teams in this district that had winning records during the regular season and could meet in a district semifinal. Portland St. Patrick and Ashley are the other local teams in the field that will try to pull upsets.
Contact Brian Calloway at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @brian_calloway.