1 Bloomfield Hills, 1 Win from Title

March 21, 2014

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

EAST LANSING – Armand Cartwright and Yante Maten were more rivals than friends during middle school.

But that relationship clearly has grown for the better over the last four years. After all, Cartwright allows Maten to raid his refrigerator, things like that – and together, they’ve led first-year Bloomfield Hills High to a basketball level the school’s predecessors never approached.

Bloomfield Hills – created when Lahser and Andover high schools combined last summer – reached the Class A championship game Friday with an 85-75 Semifinal win over Detroit U-D Jesuit at the Breslin Center.

Neither of the former schools made even the Quarterfinal round during their histories. But with the 6-foot-8 Yaten dominating the post, Cartwright running the show up top and a host of helpers filling in the rest of the lineup, the No. 8 Black Hawks upset a Cubs team ranked No. 3 at the end of the regular season.

“It feels like magic,” Cartwright said. “It feels great for us to get all together in one year, to work as a team, to get together to win the state championship.”

Bloomfield Hills (24-3) will face top-ranked Muskegon in the title game at noon Saturday.

Although the Black Hawks’ roster definitely is Lahser heavy with 12 former Knights and five Andover players, four of the former Andover players were among the 10 who saw the floor during the Semifinal.

Together, a “team from top to bottom,” in the words of coach Duane Graves held off another also having its best season of a much longer history – and despite missing one of its top scorers, who was unable to play Friday.

“It’s been an honor to coach my boys. … They make me look good,” Graves said. “When you coach you’re a coach, but it’s the players who play hard and make you look like a good coach. If you don’t have the players who buy in to what you want, it’s makes you just another coach.”

Jesuit won its first Regional title on the way to Breslin and carried a 22-2 record into East Lansing. The Cubs didn’t show it in falling 22 points down into the final minute of the third quarter – but showed plenty in cutting the deficit back to four with 1:32 to play.

Junior Jamarie Collins scored 10 points during the 33-15 run that pulled Jesuit within 77-73.

“It’s just that we got caught in the moment at the Breslin,” said senior guard Noah King, who led the Cubs with 24 points and 13 rebounds. “We had a little bit of the butterflies and we didn’t concentrate on how we play ball. We were able to do that in the second half.”

But they weren’t able to stop Yaten.

He finished with 25 points, 18 rebounds, four assists and four blocked shots and had five points and five rebounds as Bloomfield Hills went on an 8-2 run to finish that final 1:32 of the game.

Cartwright added 16 points and seven rebounds, with senior guard Xzavier Reynolds scoring 15 points with seven rebounds and four assists and junior guard Cameron Dalton adding 18 points off the bench.

Sophomore guards Billy Thomas and Cassius Winston added 21 and 16 points, respectively, for Jesuit, with Winston also dishing seven assists and grabbing six steals. Junior guard Gary Collins added 10 points off the bench.

The Cubs took the next step this winter after falling to Detroit Pershing on a buzzer beater in their 2013 Regional Final. Jesuit coach Pat Donnelly said the emotion in the locker room Friday was the same as a year ago – which is a good thing, because he knows that will bring his many returnees back to offseason work looking to avoid heartbreak next season.

“It’s definitely a different mindset,” Jesuit senior forward Nick Mutebi said. “In years past when we’d lose to a much tougher opponent, we’d just say it’s OK, at least we tried. Now, in the years to come, we’ll give each opponent our very best. And if we lose, it’ll hurt. We don’t take losses lightly anymore.”

Click for the full box score and video from the press conference.

PHOTOS: (Top) Bloomfield Hills’ Armand Cartwright brings the ball upcourt with U-D Jesuit’s Gary Collins defending. (Middle) Bloomfield Hills’ Cameron Dalton and Jesuit’s Spencer Sanders work to corral a loose ball Friday.

HIGHLIGHTS: (1) Yante Maten had 25 points and 14 rebounds to lead Bloomfield Hills to an 85-75 win over Detroit U-D Jesuit in a Class A Semifinal on Friday. Here's a highlights package of plays Maten made during the game. (2) U-D Jesuit mounted a rally in the fourth quarter and got as close as four points from the lead on this Cassius Winston layup off the midcourt turnover by Bloomfield Hills. 

Little Provides Major Stride as 1st Woman to Officiate Boys Hoops Final since 1995

By Keith Dunlap
Special for MHSAA.com

April 13, 2023

Delonda Little was already a trailblazer to many before this year’s MHSAA Boys Basketball Finals.

Greater DetroitBut what happened last month at Breslin Center made her even more of one on a statewide level.

A referee and assigner for 20 years in the Detroit area, Little is a female boys and girls basketball official who mentors both male and female referees – no matter the gender or level, as she officiates high school and college games.

Officials often go to Little for guidance, direction and assignments, which has made her respected for years throughout Metro Detroit in the prep basketball community. Then, her status as a trailblazer grew even more.

Little was assigned as an official for the Division 3 Boys Basketball Final between Flint Beecher and Traverse City St. Francis, and she became the first female referee to officiate an MHSAA Boys Basketball Final since Traverse City’s Barb Beckett 1995.

“It was a very good feeling to know I was the one selected,” said Little, who officiated the Final with Matt Olson and Zach Porritt.  

In fact, while attending a Semifinal game the Friday before the Final, Little received a phone call from an area code she didn’t recognize.

She answered, and it was Beckett.

“At first I didn’t know the name,” Little said. “I said, ‘No, I don’t know you, but that’s fine.’”

Beckett then explained she was the first female referee to be assigned a Boys Basketball Final, and just wanted to offer support to Little.

At that point, Little became excited and thankful she answered the call.

“It was very nice to hear from her because she wanted to reach out and if not pass the torch, to congratulate me,” Little said.

Little, 51, said she found out she was going to be refereeing the Division 3 boys championship game just before the start of the postseason when she received an email from the MHSAA.

“I’m looking at the email and I’m like, boys?” Little said. “I was shocked.”

But she was shocked in a good way, and obviously excited for the honor.

Little monitors the action between Flint Beecher and Traverse City St. Francis.Little didn’t find out until a couple of days before the St. Francis/Beecher contest that she would be officiating that specific championship game, but the Monday of boys championship week was when she really started to receive congratulations from friends and colleagues.

That’s when an article came out in the Detroit News detailing her selection, which led to countless calls, texts and congratulatory messages on social media.

“I couldn’t even (keep up with the comments),” she said. “That’s how overwhelming the actual tags were. It came from all across the state with officials, men and women, because I do women’s college (games). Some of the college ladies were reaching out. I was getting all the hoopla before the game.”

Little said she normally doesn’t get nervous for games, but not having some nerves became a bit harder once so many people knew of her achievement.

However, she settled into a normal routine quickly once the game started.

“I wanted to get it done, get it over with and do well,” she said.

Little did do well, which is no surprise to everyone who knew her before she officiated on the boys championship stage.

It was just another feather in the cap for Little, who in 2016 became the first woman to officiate a boys Detroit Public School League championship game.

“Delonda is one of the top officials in the Detroit area, and our staff doesn’t look at Delonda as a female working a boys game – we see one of the top officials in Detroit working a basketball game,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said. “There are females officiating in the NBA and female officials in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. The aspect that made Delonda’s selection for this MHSAA championship game nearly unique will soon be the norm at all levels of athletics.”     

Little graduated from Detroit Osborn in 1989 and starred on the basketball court at Wayne State, earning induction into WSU’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005.

Her day job is as an officer for the Michigan Department of Corrections, but her passion is officiating. She’s been an MHSAA-registered official for basketball for two decades and also was registered for volleyball for four years. This past fall she registered for football for the first time.

“I get something from it because it keeps me in shape, I love the people I work with and I like the kids,” Little said. “You are always teaching, and I like training the newer officials. I just enjoy it. I don’t know what I’d be doing if I wasn’t refereeing.”

Going forward, Little hopes her championship game assignment will now be an inspiration for other female referees.

“There aren’t very many women who would like to work boys basketball or feel comfortable,” Little said. “If that’s something they desire, I’m hoping more women are selected to work the games if they feel comfortable.”

Keith DunlapKeith Dunlap has served in Detroit-area sports media for more than two decades, including as a sportswriter at the Oakland Press from 2001-16 primarily covering high school sports but also college and professional teams. His bylines also have appeared in USA Today, the Washington Post, the Detroit Free Press, the Houston Chronicle and the Boston Globe. He served as the administrator for the Oakland Activities Association’s website from 2017-2020. Contact him at [email protected] with story ideas for Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties

PHOTOS (Top) Delonda Little takes her position on the court during the Division 3 Boys Basketball Final on March 25 at Breslin Center. (Middle) Little monitors the action between Flint Beecher and Traverse City St. Francis.