2012 Boys Basketball Finals in Review

April 5, 2012

Did we just watch one of the greatest MHSAA boys basketball champions of all-time?

That’s a question being asked around the state coming off this season’s Boys Basketball Finals at Michigan State’s Breslin Center.

The team that brought up in those comparisons is Lansing Sexton, which won its second-straight Class B championship in convincing fashion. But that run was only one stroke of historical significance to emerge from this season’s Finals.

Saginaw added to one of the state’s strongest traditions with another championship in Class A. Flint Beecher posted the best finish of its successful run by finishing undefeated and champion in Class C. And Southfield Christian set the bar high with its first title run, finishing with one of the sharpest shooting displays in MHSAA history.

We wrap up the winter with a look back at those four tournaments, and a look ahead at teams we could see back at Breslin in 2013.

Four quarters

Saginaw wins No. 6: Class A conveniently played out to end with No. 1 Saginaw vs. No. 2 Romulus – until unranked Rockford crashed with a 62-61 win over the Eagles in a Semifinal. But the Rams, making their second MHSAA Final appearance, nearly earned their second championship. Rockford made 10 3-pointers and was tied with the Trojans as late as 4:36 to play before Saginaw finished on a 14-2 run. (Read the full report.)

Seeing Red again: Lansing Sexton concluded one of the most impressive runs in MHSAA history with a 67-32 win over No. 7 Stevensville-Lakeshore in the Class B Final. The Big Reds finished 27-1, winning all of their games by at least eight points despite playing a schedule loaded with many of the best from Class A. It was Sexton’s third-straight appearance in the B championship game, and second-straight title; the Big Reds also won back-to-back titles, in Class A, in 1959-60. (Read the full report.)

Best of Buc-Town: That’s another argument being made after Beecher became the 12th team in MHSAA history to win 28 games – one more than the best of the school’s other three championship squads. Beecher claimed Class C this season by beating reigning champion Schoolcraft by 20 in the Semifinal and Traverse City St. Francis 74-60 in the championship game. (Read the full report.)

Can’t-miss champs: Southfield Christian tied an MHSAA record with 12 3-pointers in the Class D Final, on 46 percent accuracy, in downing Climax-Scotts 76-44 after escaping Muskegon Catholic Central 78-74 in the Semifinal. Senior Chris Dewberry made 10 of 13 shots from the floor in the championship game, including 6 of 8 from 3-point range. (Read the full report.)

Numbers game

54,823: Total attendance of the eight Semifinals and four championship games, combined, at the 2012 Boys Basketball Finals. The total was roughly 5,600 more than attended in 2011.

74: Wins over the last three seasons by Lansing Sexton, tied for sixth-most in MHSAA history for a boys basketball team over that span of time.

19: Number of games, to one win, that Southfield Christian lost two seasons ago. The Eagles improved to 11-10 last season before going 24-2 and winning the Class D championship last month.

3: Runner-up finishes by Flint Beecher before beating St. Francis to win its first MHSAA championship since 1987. Those just-misses came in 2008, 2003 and in Class B in 2000.

11: Points scored by Saginaw, in a row, to close out the Class A championship game. The Trojans rode that final 11-0 run to a 54-42 win over Rockford.


“They have a big influence in my life. Coach Thomas with all the help he has done for me this season; I could call him any time and get advice. And the same thing with Coach Dawkins. We’re brothers. It’s all about love and having that relationship. He texts me at night and lets me know how things are going, and I text him and ask him for advice about things. I was really appreciative of their support.” – Saginaw first-year coach Julian Taylor, on former championship-winning Saginaw coaches Marshall Thomas and Lou Dawkins, who sat behind the Trojans’ bench at Breslin during the Final

“Denzel is every father’s dream. Both my sons, Drew and Denzel. I’ve been very lucky to be able to coach both my sons and for them to enjoy the thing that I love most, basketball. Denzel’s been incredible. He’s done everything we’ve asked of him. His freshman year he had two knee surgeries. The doctor had to put his knee back together. He didn’t know if he was even going to play again, and he fought through some difficult struggles with his knee. We talked about adversity and different things. When he was being recruited by Michigan State, coach (Tom) Izzo said, ‘I’m not going offer you, because you can’t shoot it. You can do everything else.’ So Denzel, when he got done, he went to the gym and shot 500 shots. … That’s the kind of guy Denzel is. He’s going to do extra. I’m really proud of him. I love him. He’s my son, and for the people who doubted him and watched him play, I feel bad for them, because they just missed a fine, fine high school basketball player.” – Sexton coach Carlton Valentine on his son, senior Denzel Valentine.

“It was worth it. We’ve been putting in work all year, the offseason, way before the season; we didn’t just wait for the season to prepare for it. So it was worth a lot. We put a lot into this. And we appreciate this, and not just us, the whole community, the whole coaching staff. We made a lot of sacrifices to get here and finish the job. It’s just a blessing.” – Beecher senior Cortez Robinson, on coming back to win a title after losing in the Semifinals the last two seasons.

“We don’t take anybody for granted. We learned earlier in the year looking at film and seeing guys and going, ‘Oh, this is going to be a cake walk,’ and we come out and guys get up 30 on us and we’re looking like, ‘All right, now we’ve got to find a way.’ We played our hardest, and we just felt like if we played our hardest, we know we put in more work than them. That’s the confidence we have in our work that we put in, so we came out and let that show.” – Southfield Christian senior guard Lindsey Hunter III  

See you next year …

Rockford: The Rams certainly were a surprise of the tournament, but won’t be if they make it back in 2013. Seven juniors should return to lead the way, including top guard Chad Carlson and key contributors Chase Fairchild and Kyle Short. (Honorable mention to Macomb L’Anse Creuse North, which made its first Semifinal appearance ever and should return all but two players, including its top two scorers.)

Muskegon Heights: The Tigers look good to return – it’s just a matter of if it will be in Class C or if the school will opt up into Class B, the class it played in this season. Muskegon Heights’ top three players were a junior and two sophomores, and 6-foot-4 forward Mike Davis showed star potential in the Semifinal while carrying more of the load because of an injury to 6-5 leading scorer Juwon Martin.

Beecher: The Buccaneers will graduate seven players off this season’s team, but return two-time reigning Associated Press Class C Player of the Year Monte Morris. With some help, he could carry Beecher back to Breslin for a fourth-straight season.

Climax-Scotts: Three starters during this run were juniors, including 6-7 all-stater Malachi Satterlee. He and the other returnees gained valuable experience during this runner-up finish, as did coach Steve Critchlow, who went 25-1 in his first season running the program.

Link up

To watch all 12 games and press conferences after each, click on MHSAA.tv.

PHOTOS courtesy of Terry McNamara Photography.

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.