Breslin Bound: 2022-23 Boys District Preview

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

March 6, 2023

There’s an awesomeness that comes with nearly 100 years of tradition, and one of the MHSAA's originals begins another chapter tonight with the first games of the 2022-23 MHSAA Boys Basketball Tournament.

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Up first are Districts, often with teams seeing neighbors a second or third time – but this time, it’s win or go home. Then come Regionals, where the opponents are more unfamiliar, but all on equal footing and with some added spring to their steps after hoisting trophies the weekend before. The final week of the tournament is the final week of the winter sports season as well, and everything seems to accelerate as those last 16 teams whittle down to four champions Saturday at the Breslin Center.

Everything you could want to know this week about tickets, brackets and more can be found on the Boys Basketball page. To watch any of several games online, visit the NFHS Network.

“Breslin Bound” is powered by MI Student Aid and based on results and schedules posted for each school at

Week in Review

The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:

1. Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice 66, Detroit Cass Tech 65 (OT) The annual Operation Friendship meeting of Detroit league champions was unforgettable as Rice (21-1) handed Cass Tech (21-1) its lone loss on a final-seconds 3-pointer.

2. North Farmington 73, Ferndale 54 The Division 1 highly-regarded Raiders (19-1) completed an outright Oakland Activities Association Red title run by finishing a sweep of Division 2 contender Ferndale (14-8)

3. River Rouge 57, Ann Arbor Huron 54 The Panthers (16-5) capped an impressive six-win surge to finish the regular season with a close one over the River Rats (19-2).

4. Muskegon 67, Kalamazoo Central 60 The Big Reds (20-2) entered the postseason with a big win as the Maroon Giants (18-3) also have bigtime playoff potential.

5. Napoleon 63, Jonesville 61 The annual Big 8/Cascades conference crossover of champions went the Pirates’ way as Napoleon (21-1) bounced back from its lone loss two days earlier to edge the Comets (17-5).

Grand Blanc's Donnie Huddleston (2) gets a hand up as Flint Beecher's Damarcus Burke Jr. launches a jumper during the Bobcats 57-43 win on Thursday.

Districts at a Glance

These could be among our most competitive brackets. Host sites are in bold:


Bloomfield Hills
No. 1 Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (21-1), No. 2 Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (9-10), West Bloomfield (15-6), Birmingham Groves (16-6), Bloomfield Hills (15-7), Birmingham Seaholm (12-10).

Topped by an overall Division 1 favorite in Brother Rice, this might be the strongest District in the state regardless of division. The Warriors have seen many of the rest of the best in Michigan and defeated them all including Grand Blanc, River Rouge, East Kentwood, Kalamazoo Central, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (twice) and Cass Tech (see above) just a few days ago. The lone loss came to reigning Division 1 champion Warren De La Salle Collegiate, and Brother Rice avenged that three weeks later. St. Mary’s hasn’t played an opponent with a losing record this season, and its most recent loss to Rice on Feb. 7 was by just five points – while the Eaglets have their share of strong wins as well. West Bloomfield and Groves shared the OAA White championship, and Seaholm won the OAA Blue.

No. 1 Muskegon (20-2), No. 2 Grand Haven (17-5), Grand Rapids Union (14-7), Muskegon Reeths-Puffer (13-9), Coopersville (14-8), Grand Rapids Kenowa Hills (8-14), Muskegon Mona Shores (5-17).

The Big Reds are a top contender in Division 1 this month and have seen some of the rest including Kalamazoo Central (see above), North Farmington and Grand Blanc – the latter two delivering Muskegon’s losses. But they’ll still have to be careful this first week with some familiar opponents pursuing an upset. Union finished second to Muskegon in the Ottawa-Kent Conference Green, while Reeths-Puffer tied for third in that league – although Muskegon won its four combined games against them all by at least 25 points. But on the other side of the bracket, Coopersville tied for second in O-K Blue, and Grand Haven tied for third in a highly-competitive O-K Red and defeated Muskegon in a 2021 District matchup, the last time they met.

No. 1 Okemos (18-4), No. 2 Mason (20-2), Jackson (17-5), Holt (13-9), Jackson Northwest (13-9), Lansing Everett (2-20).

Mason and Jackson are coming off league championships, the Bulldogs outright in the Capital Area Activities Conference Red and the Vikings sharing the Southeastern Conference White. But the top seed is Okemos, which finished second in the CAAC Blue – which saw six of its seven teams finish 12-9 or better during the regular season – and two of the Wolves’ losses came in league play in overtime. Okemos could see Jackson in a District Semifinal, and the Vikings have made a notable jump from 8-13 a season ago but also open tonight against Holt, which defeated them 67-60 on Dec. 20. Mason’s jump has been just as impressive – from 10-11 last season – but there’s another note of interest there too as possible Wednesday opponent Northwest defeated the Bulldogs in their season opener 64-55.


Big Rapids
1. Hart (22-0), 2. Cadillac (18-4), Big Rapids (19-2), Ludington (20-2), Reed City (13-9), Remus Chippewa Hills (10-11).

Hart has made history over and over again this season with a first league title in 60 years and one of the first 22-0 regular-season finishes in MHSAA history. But how strong is this District? Counting the two weeks since seeding into MPR, Hart would’ve ranked fourth with Cadillac, Big Rapids and Ludington all moving up a spot. Big Rapids won the Central State Activities Association and Ludington shared the West Michigan Conference Lakes title, and they lead things off tonight – with the winner set to meet Hart on Wednesday, and Hart having defeated Big Rapids 92-84 on Dec. 15. On the other side, Cadillac shared the Big North Conference title and suffered three of its losses by a combined four points.

New Boston Huron
1. Flat Rock (17-5), 2. Romulus Summit Academy North (20-2), Riverview (19-3), Grosse Ile (14-8), New Boston Huron (8-14).

Summit is seeking a third-straight District title with its only losses this season to teams that are a combined 39-3 – Detroit Loyola and Warren Michigan Collegiate. The Dragons start Wednesday against Grosse Ile, which finished third in the Huron League behind co-champions Flat Rock and Riverview. Those two also could face off Wednesday, although New Boston Huron will attempt to play spoiler tonight against the Pirates. Riverview and Flat Rock split their meetings this season, Flat Rock winning 58-52 on Jan. 2s4 and the Pirates avenging 44-41 on Feb. 17.

Wyoming Godwin Heights
1. Grand Rapids Catholic Central (16-6), 2. Wyoming Lee (19-1), Wyoming Godwin Heights (12-7), Hudsonville Unity Christian (13-9), Wyoming Kelloggsville (2-20), Allendale (2-20).

The Cougars, last season’s Division 2 runners-up, have won nine of their last 11 and shared the O-K Gold championship with another Division 2 contender in Grand Rapids South Christian. GRCC could run into a familiar opponent Wednesday in Unity Christian, which tied for second in the O-K Blue but has won seven of its last nine. Those two have met the last two postseasons (and were set to meet in 2020 before COVID-19 halted the playoffs), with the Cougars winning both matchups. On the other side, Lee has had one of the biggest turnarounds in the state this season after going 5-16 a year ago. The Legends won the Alliance League but could have one of their toughest matchups of the season Wednesday if host Godwin Heights gets by Kelloggsville in an opener.


Cass City
1. Cass City (19-2), 2. Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker (16-5), Bad Axe (16-4), Sandusky (14-7), Harbor Beach (7-11), Unionville-Sebewaing (0-21).

Cass City and its late-game heroics have been one of the most fun stories this season, and they head into this District as the top seed but having been eliminated by either Laker or Bad Axe the last three playoffs (not counting 2020). Those two also own the only wins over Cass City this season, with the Red Hawks and Lakers sharing the Greater Thumb Conference West title after splitting their regular-season meetings. They’re lined up on opposite sides of the bracket as the top seeds, but Bad Axe – which defeated Cass City 50-41 on Jan. 6 – will attempt to play spoiler against Cass City on Wednesday if it gets by Harbor Beach tonight. Sandusky could make a major impact as well; the GTC East runner-up has USA tonight but would see Laker on Wednesday after winning last Thursday’s meeting with EBPB 67-49.

Lake City
1. Traverse City St. Francis (18-4), 2. Maple City Glen Lake (18-4), Benzie Central (11-11), Manton (8-14), LeRoy Pine River (8-14), Lake City (3-18).

Although they missed each other last season, St. Francis and Glen Lake have met in District play most of the last decade (and were scheduled to play in 2020), with Glen Lake winning their 2021 postseason matchup and St. Francis winning the next most-recent meeting in 2019. St. Francis shared the Lake Michigan Conference title this season with Boyne City and also had the benefit of facing Division 1 Cass Tech and Grand Haven, no doubt gaining some valuable experience in defeats. Glen Lake won the Northwest Conference and has wins over Division 1 Wayne Memorial and also the third and fourth-place teams from the LMC as a bit of a measuring stick. The Lakers also swept Benzie, which tied for second in the Northwest and would see St. Francis on Wednesday with a win tonight.

1. Watervliet (19-3), 2. Niles Brandywine (20-2), Cassopolis (17-4), Bridgman (11-11), Coloma (2-20).

Watervliet won the Southwestern Athletic Conference Lakeshore title and Cassopolis won the Southwest 10 Conference South, and Brandywine finished second in the Lakeland Conference but to Division 2 contender Benton Harbor – which handed the Bobcats their only losses of the season, and the second only 58-56 on Feb. 17. Brandywine also has a 61-35 win over Cassopolis from Jan. 31 but is on the other side of the bracket facing Bridgman on Wednesday. The Rangers have won their last seven and open with Coloma tonight, with Watervliet awaiting the winner and having enjoyed big wins this season over Blanchard Montabella (20-2) and reigning Division 3 champion Schoolcraft (15-7) and also having lost by only three to Benton Harbor.


1. McBain Northern Michigan Christian (16-6), 2. Mesick (17-5), Marion (15-7), Buckley (14-8), Fife Lake Forest Area (0-19).

NMC finished third in the Highland Conference to Division 3 McBain and Beal City and carries the top seed into this week having won six of its last seven games – but after also falling to Buckley 62-58 on Thursday. Host Mesick is on the other side of the bracket after finishing second in the West Michigan D League and with 10 wins over its last 11 games, but opens Wednesday with Buckley – which tied for second in the Northwest Conference to Glen Lake and has won 10 of its last 11 as well. Marion – 7-12 just a season ago – finished third in the WMDL and opens with Forest Area with hopes of getting past NMC after that and perhaps seeing Mesick a third time after they split their regular-season matchups.

1. Mio (18-1), 2. Hillman (18-4), Hale (10-11), Fairview (4-14), Atlanta (1-15), Au Gres-Sims (1-21).

Hillman and Mio met in last season’s District Final, won by the Tigers 53-36, and Hillman also claimed their meeting just a few weeks ago – 66-41 on Feb. 13. Both were on their way to North Star League titles, Mio in the Big Dipper and Hillman in the Little Dipper. That was the Thunderbolts’ only loss as they move into District week the top seed and coming off an overtime 44-36 win over Big Dipper runner-up Alcona. Hillman has actually lost two straight and three of its last five – but likely gained some valuable experience with those defeats to Division 1 Gaylord, Division 2 Ogemaw Heights and Division 3 Tawas. The Tigers on Wednesday will see either Hale or Fairview, both familiar after finishing third and fourth, respectively, in the Little Dipper.

1. Onaway (19-3), 2. Indian River Inland Lakes (16-6), Posen (16-6), Burt Lake Northern Michigan Christian (11-9), Rogers City (3-19), Wolverine (5-12).

Onaway and Inland Lakes were part of a three-team shared Ski Valley Conference championship (with Gaylord St. Mary), and they could meet again with Inland Lakes winning their most recent meeting 66-43 on Feb. 17. Onaway has claimed two straight District titles, however, but first Wednesday will see either Posen or Northern Michigan Christian. Posen was the runner-up in the North Star League Little Dipper and has won eight of its last nine – although Onaway did take their Dec. 21 matchup 49-48. Inland Lakes has doubled its success from just a season ago, when it finished 8-13, and has won eight of its last nine games.'s weekly “Breslin Bound” previews and reviews are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Office of Postsecondary Financial Planning located within the Michigan Department of Treasury. MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 college savings programs (MET/MESP), as well as scholarship and grant programs that help make college Accessible, Affordable and Attainable for you. Connect with MI Student Aid at and find more information on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.

PHOTOS (Top) Detroit Cass Tech's Travon Cooper II sets up for a free throw during the Detroit Public School League Tournament championship game at Calihan Hall. (Middle) Grand Blanc's Donnie Huddleston (2) gets a hand up as Flint Beecher's Damarcus Burke Jr. (13) launches a jumper during the Bobcats' 57-43 win on Thursday. (Photos by Olivia B. Photography and Terry Lyons, respectively.) 

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

By Keith Dunlap
Special for

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.