Breslin Bound: 2021-22 Boys Regional Preview
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
March 14, 2022
The magic number is down to "3" to earn a trip to East Lansing as Michigan's remaining 128 high school boys basketball teams pull closer to reaching the season's final weekend at Michigan State's Breslin Center.
Rematches won by the team that lost the first time (or two) headlined our District Finals from Friday, and a number of rematches are possible again this week with several highlighted below. Check out “Tracking the Tournament” on MHSAA.com for every matchup from all brackets.
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Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Detroit Cass Tech 58, Detroit Martin Luther King 54 (OT) The Technicians (19-3) avenged a 56-51 loss to King (19-3) from Jan. 21 that ended up deciding the Detroit Public School League Blue title.
2. Grand Rapids Catholic Central 68, Hudsonville Unity Christian 48 The reigning Division 2 champion Cougars (21-1) handed Unity Christian (21-1) its only loss of the season.
3. Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 63, Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice 40 The Eaglets (18-4) had lost to Brother Rice (15-7) by two and 12 during the regular season.
4. Michigan Center 63, Napoleon 47 The Cardinals (17-6) had finished third in the Cascades Conference but defeated champion Vandercook Lake and then runner-up Napoleon (19-3) to claim a Division 3 District title.
5. Grandville Calvin Christian 61, Grand Rapids Covenant Christian 55 The Squires (19-3) avenged a 68-61 overtime loss to the rival Chargers (17-4) from Dec. 17 – Calvin’s last defeat this season.
Regionals at a Glance
These could be among our most competitive brackets. Host sites are in bold:
Detroit U-D Jesuit (16-5) vs. Hamtramck (19-3), North Farmington (18-3) vs. Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (18-4)
To say this Regional is loaded is an understatement. Jesuit was No. 1 in final Division 1 MPR, St. Mary’s was No. 2, Hamtramck No. 9 and North Farmington No. 13. Jesuit won its first two meetings with St. Mary’s this season, but the Eaglets won the most recent 65-43 in the Detroit Catholic League Bishop Tournament. Hamtramck hasn’t lost since Jan. 15, with a pair of wins over River Rouge (17-4) highlighting its run. North Farmington’s losses came to opponents that all won 15 or more games, and the Raiders avenged the most recent by defeating Oak Park 45-36 in a regular-season finale. For common opponent purposes, Oak Park fell to Jesuit in their District Final by just a point.
Muskegon (20-2) vs. Grand Rapids Northview (22-1), Holland West Ottawa (11-12) vs. Wyoming (15-7)
Tonight’s Regional Semifinals feature a titanic matchup between Ottawa-Kent Conference champions as Green title winner Muskegon takes on White title winner Northview. The Wildcats’ only loss was in their second meeting against Grand Rapids Christian (18-4), while Muskegon has lost only to Kalamazoo Central (14-7) and Ferndale (18-3) – and all three of those opponents also have gone on to win District titles. The Big Reds were ranked No. 10 in final Division 1 MPR. West Ottawa lost five straight to end the regular season before reversing course with a District title run, and Wyoming finished second to Muskegon in the Green and also faced Northview this season.
Lincoln Park (16-6) vs. Brownstown Woodhaven (18-4), Dearborn (17-5) vs. Detroit Cass Tech (19-3)
Cass Tech’s District Final win continued a run of 10 victories over its last 11 games, and the Technicians last week actually avenged two of their regular-season losses by also defeating Detroit Western in a District Semifinal. They next face a District full of similarly hungry programs looking to take a big step. Woodhaven won the Downriver League and Lincoln Park was second despite Lincoln Park winning both of their regular-season meetings. Lincoln Park was 3-12 just a season ago, and Woodhaven is riding high with eight wins over its last nine games and all by double digits. Dearborn has taken a couple of nice steps the last few seasons, and three of its losses were to Kensington Lakes Activities Association East champ Belleville (16-6) as the Pioneers finished second this winter.
Flint Powers Catholic
Richmond (19-3) vs. Pontiac Notre Dame Prep (15-7), Croswell-Lexington (22-0) vs. Goodrich (18-4)
Crowell-Lexington is a combined 61-3 over the last three seasons, with COVID-19 ending its 2020 run and an overtime Quarterfinal loss finishing 2021. The Pioneers were first again in the Blue Water Area Conference and Richmond second, but Croswell-Lexington won the second meeting Feb. 22 only 56-54. To set up a third, the Pioneers will have to get by another league champion in the Flint Metro League Stars’ Goodrich, which avenged a late loss to Lake Fenton by defeating the Blue Devils by 11 in their District Final. Richmond takes on Notre Dame Prep, which also had a bit of a rough end to the regular season – facing some of the state’s top teams with a loss to Goodrich during that stretch – but the Fighting Irish came back to edge Warren Michigan Collegiate (15-5) by a point in their District Final.
Benton Harbor (20-2) vs. Holland Christian (15-7), Edwardsburg (15-7) vs. Parchment (20-1)
On opposite sides of this bracket sit No. 5 Parchment and No. 8 Benton Harbor, Parchment seeking its first Regional title since 2000 and Benton Harbor its first since 2018 when it went on to win the Class B championship. Parchment’s only defeat was to Schoolcraft (20-2), while Benton Harbor lost only to Muskegon (see above) and Detroit Edison (16-6) – all three of those opponents are still playing this week. Parchment first must get past Edwardsburg, also a league champion. Benton Harbor opens with Holland Christian, which tied for second in a power-packed O-K Blue and suffered all of its losses to opponents that won 16 or more games this winter.
Marshall (20-2) vs. Lansing Catholic (13-10), Williamston (22-0) vs. Onsted (22-0)
Unbeatens Onsted and Williamston make for one of tonight’s premier matchups, in any division, with Williamston playing only one single-digit game this season and Onsted only three. Williamston last won a Regional title in 2018, and Onsted is seeking its first since 1983. On the other side, Marshall shared the title in an Interstate 8 Athletic Conference that produced four teams that won at least 14 games. Lansing Catholic defeated Division 1 Holt on the way into the playoffs and then the two teams that finished ahead of the Cougars in the Capital Area Activities Conference White – champion Ionia and runner-up Lansing Sexton – on the way to the District title.
Lawton (15-7) vs. Schoolcraft (20-2), Watervliet (18-3) vs. Bronson (13-9)
Schoolcraft and Watervliet both shared Southwestern Athletic Conference divisional titles but haven’t seen each other this season, although they have three mutual opponents. Schoolcraft hasn’t lost since Dec. 28, including handing Parchment (see above) its only defeat. The Eagles open with Lawton, which finished third in Watervliet’s SAC Lakeshore division. Watervliet faces Bronson, which finished fifth in a competitive Big 8 Conference and is riding an eight-game winning streak.
Hemlock (15-7) vs. Flint Beecher (19-2), Bad Axe (20-2) vs. Marlette (12-11)
Reigning Division 3 champion Beecher has been a favorite to repeat all season, ranked No. 2 in final Division 3 MPR and with its only losses to Division 1 Grand Blanc (17-5) and Detroit Martin Luther King (19-3). The Bucs are coming off a 31-point win over Reese (18-3) in their District Final. Hemlock has seven losses, but six of them were by a combined 17 points – or just under three per defeat – and they avenged one with an 18-point win over Ithaca in last week’s District Final. On the other side, Bad Axe will see Marlette for the second time in two weeks after winning the first meeting by 18. The Hatchets’ only losses were to Reese.
Sault Ste. Marie
Ishpeming Westwood (17-4) vs. Menominee (19-3), Harbor Springs (10-11) vs. Benzie Central (19-3)
Menominee entered the postseason as the No. 1 team in overall Division 3 MPR with its losses to teams that have at least 18 wins and are still alive in their respective divisions. The Maroons actually defeated Escanaba (18-4) twice to finish first in the Great Northern Conference before losing their third meeting, and they are seeking their first Regional title since 2008. Westwood also is a league champion, from the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference East, and is seeking its first Regional title since 2016. Benzie, winner of the Northwest Conference, is seeking its first Regional title since 1997 after emerging from one of the strongest Division 3 Districts in the state, with Harbor Springs one of the surprise District champs after upsets of St. Ignace (15-6) and East Jordan (13-9) last week.
Lake Leelanau St. Mary (18-4) vs. Ellsworth (19-3), Frankfort (11-11) vs. McBain Northern Michigan Christian (22-0)
Ellsworth is seeking its first Regional title since 2009, NMC its first since 2003 and St. Mary its first since 1950. Frankfort has more recent history playing in the late stages of this tournament, finishing Division 4 runner-up in 2019. The Panthers represent the strong Northwest Conference won by Benzie Central (see above), but NMC did win their Feb. 26 meeting 61-49 and claimed the title in a similarly Division 3-heavy Highland Conference. Ellsworth won the Northern Lakes Conference, with its two most recent losses to Division 3 teams. St. Mary as an independent has played a variety of schools all over the state and has wins over Ellsworth (71-63) and Frankfort (64-38), with three of its four losses to Division 3 schools and the fourth to Rudyard (21-1).
Ewen-Trout Creek (19-3) vs. Lake Linden-Hubbell (13-8), Powers North Central (18-4) vs. Munising (19-2)
Ewen-Trout Creek finished second in overall Division 4 MPR, with North Central No. 4 and Munising No. 12. All three are league champions. Ewen-Trout Creek owns a big win over Lake Linden-Hubbell from a month ago and also a one-pointer over Menominee (see above) from March 1, but the Lakes are riding a six-game winning streak. North Central and Munising meet again after the Jets won their Feb. 23 game 59-48 and Munising won the rematch March 3 64-43. North Central’s only other losses were to Menominee, with Munising’s other defeat to Rudyard.
Clarkston Everest Collegiate (17-5) vs. Marine City Cardinal Mooney (14-8), Genesee Christian (18-4) vs. Ubly (17-4)
All four finished among the top 24 in Division 4 MPR – with Genesee Christian No. 7, Ubly No. 11 and Everest No. 13. Genesee Christian has three losses from either Beecher or Flint Hamady, which also advanced to this week in Division 2, and the Soldiers defeated Everest 55-50 on Jan. 29. Ubly won the Greater Thumb Conference East with all four of its losses to Division 3 teams that won 14 or more games, and the Bearcats earned a 69-44 win over another league champ Kinde North Huron to finish last week’s District run. This will be the third meeting between Everest and Cardinal Mooney, with the Mountaineers winning the first two by two and then three in overtime, respectively. Everest also has a two-point win over annual contender Southfield Christian.
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PHOTO Jalen Kampen (22) gets his hand on a loose ball during Parchment's 58-55 win over Otsego to clinch a Division 2 District title Friday. (Photo by Gary Shook.)
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.
But 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 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 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.