Breslin Bound: 2021-22 Boys Report Week 2
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
December 20, 2021
No school for the next two weeks hardly means no basketball for many teams across the state.
Holiday showcases, classics, tournaments, etc., canceled last season because of the COVID-related late start are returning to close this calendar year, and they’ll surely clue us in more on the teams to watch once we return and turn to 2022.
“Breslin Bound” is powered by MI Student Aid and based on results and schedules posted for each school at MHSAA.com. Send corrections or missing scores to [email protected].
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Richland Gull Lake 78, Kalamazoo Central 75 (OT) The Blue Devils are off to a 3-0 start, with this Central’s first home league loss since 2014.
2. Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 60, Clarkston 51 The Eaglets (3-0) continued their impressive start by dealing Clarkston (2-1) its first defeat.
3. River Rouge 61, Warren Fitzgerald 59 Rouge (3-0) won three times last week, two times by a bucket, beginning with this victory and followed by a 62-61 win over Belleville.
4. Benton Harbor 73, Flint Carman-Ainsworth 62 The Tigers (3-0) are revving again after last season’s trip to the Division 2 Quarterfinals, with this win coming at Grand Rapids Union’s Showcase Classic.
5. Buckley 61, Maple City Glen Lake 59 It’s hard to imagine a better start for Buckley (1-0), defeating the reigning Northwest Conference champ after finishing 7-13 overall and seventh in the league last season.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
Ann Arbor Huron (3-0) Last season’s Division 1 runner-up is up to a combined 43-2 since the start of 2019-20, with a couple of solid and close wins last week. After opening the season Dec. 10 with a 15-point victory over Ypsilanti Lincoln, the River Rats defeated Ann Arbor Skyline 48-42 and Saline 41-39 – the only losses for those latter two opponents so far.
Hamtramck (4-0) The Cosmos are now a combined 35-6 going back to the start of the 2019-20 season and coming off a Michigan Metro Athletic Conference Black championship last winter. So far, so good this season as well, with last week featuring a 54-52 overtime win over Canton and an 81-54 victory over Wyoming Godwin Heights at Cornerstone University. The first matchup with league rival River Rouge is Jan. 28.
Olivet (4-0) The Eagles returned to their usual successful ways with a 13-3 run last winter, and they appear on that path again. The 59-32 opening win over Union City remains the Chargers’ only defeat, and Olivet followed that up with a 55-24 win over a Hanover-Horton team coming off a run to the Division 3 Semifinals. All four Eagles victories have come by at least 20 points.
Parchment (5-0) The Panthers broke a string of two straight sub.-500 finishes with a 14-4 run last winter, and they’ve already defeated Southwestern Athletic Conference Valley reigning champion Schoolcraft after tying for second in the league last season. Parchment will meet Grand Rapids West Catholic in Wednesday’s Cornerstone University Holiday Tournament Red championship game after defeating Wyoming Potter’s House Christian in Monday’s opener.
Bad Axe (5-0) The Hatchets closed last season’s 12-3 showing with a District title, and expectations should be growing as four of five wins have been by at least 17 points. The only losses last winter came to league rival Reese – the Rockets also won the Regional matchup – and those teams meet for the first time this season Jan. 12.
Vandercook Lake (5-0) The Jayhawks appear ready to take the next step after winning four games two seasons ago and finishing 9-9 last winter. A 56-53 win over Homer on Dec. 10 avenged an 18-point loss to last season’s Big 8 Conference champion, and Thursday’s 70-56 victory over Michigan Center avenged a pair of 2020-21 defeats.
Britton Deerfield (3-0) After two straight winning seasons, Britton Deerfield dropped back to 6-11 last winter. But the Patriots look to be putting that quickly behind them with three double-digit wins to start. Last week’s 68-56 win over Morenci was the Bulldogs’ lone defeat.
Hillman (3-0) Last season’s 12-8 finish broke a string of two sub-.500 seasons, and the Tigers are off and running again. Two of three wins so far have avenged losses from last winter – the 39-37 victory over Rogers City in the opener after Hillman lost last season’s meeting by a point, and a 65-31 win over Alcona last week after the Tigers lost last winter’s meeting by 12.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Wednesday – Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (2-0) at Detroit Renaissance (3-0) Contenders from the Detroit Catholic League and Detroit Public School League help kick off two weeks of big-time nonleague holiday games.
Wednesday – Parchment (5-0) vs. Grand Rapids West Catholic (3-0) at Cornerstone University – These two will face off for the Holiday Tournament Red championship.
Dec. 27 – Flint Beecher (4-0) vs. Detroit Martin Luther King (1-1) at Ferndale – The Motor City Roundball Classic returns, and this matchup features the reigning Division 3 champ and a Division 1 contender.
Dec. 27 – Grand Rapids Catholic Central (1-0) vs. Detroit U-D Jesuit (3-1) at Ferndale – Both are recent Finals participants, GRCC the reigning Division 2 champion and Jesuit the 2019 Division 1 runner-up.
Dec. 28 – Williamston (5-0) vs. North Farmington (3-0) at Ferndale – This Roundball Classic game also features top teams in Divisions 2 and 1, respectively.
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PHOTOS (Top) Traverse City St. Francis opened last week with a 59-40 win over reigning Lake Michigan Conference champ Charlevoix. (Middle) DeWitt's Landen Poe (20) drives while being defended by Howell's Breven Weller (0). (Photos by Rick Sack and Cara Kamps, respectively.)
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.