Breslin Bound: 2022-23 Boys Report Week 1
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
December 12, 2022
Several of Michigan’s anticipated boys basketball contenders wasted no time last week opening with matchups against more of the best our state is expected to offer this winter.
And we’re wasting no time talking about it.
Below is our first installment of “Breslin Bound” for the 2022-23 boys season, and we’ll again highlight intriguing results and teams on the rise all the way through their season-ending trips to Breslin Center in March.
“Breslin Bound” is powered by MI Student Aid and based on results and schedules posted for each school at MHSAA.com.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Lake Leelanau St. Mary 63, Menominee 45 In a matchup of teams that finished last season at Breslin, 2022 Division 4 semifinalist St. Mary (3-0) got off to an impressive start against the reigning Division 3 runner-up Maroons (1-1).
2. Detroit U-D Jesuit 57, Ferndale 55 One of the most anticipated first-week games statewide saw Jesuit (2-0) trail nearly the entirety before a big fourth quarter pulled them just ahead of the Eagles (0-2).
3. Rockford 68, Grand Rapids Catholic Central 64 The Rams (2-0) edged the reigning Division 2 runner-up Cougars (0-1) at Calvin University.
4. North Farmington 49, Detroit Martin Luther King 36 Another highly-anticipated opener saw teams that combined for 37 wins last season face off with North Farmington (2-0) earning the early boost.
5. St. Ignace 79, Boyne City 74 (OT) The Saints (1-0) avenged last season’s 68-50 loss to Boyne City (1-1) with Jonny Ingalls scoring 36 points including 16 during overtime.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
Dearborn Fordson (2-0) The Tractors more than reversed their 2020-21 record of 6-11 in improving to 15-6 last season, and they’re off to the right start again. They defeated Dearborn Edsel Ford by 23 and Allen Park by 24, and have a few more tests coming up as they prepare to take on Belleville, Dearborn and more in the Kensington Lakes Activities Association East.
Petoskey (2-0) The Northmen are coming off a 17-8 finish that included a Regional Final appearance against eventual Division 1 runner-up Grand Blanc, and they’re off to a strong start winning their home invitational over the weekend. Petoskey defeated Brighton 74-66 on Friday and then Grand Ledge 70-68 in overtime to clinch the title.
Kingsford (2-0) The Flivvers improvement from 8-6 two seasons ago to 15-7 last winter was substantial, especially considering those seven losses came to just three teams. Three of the defeats were to Escanaba, but Kingsford took an early step in Great Northern Conference play this time with a 67-50 win over the Eskymos.
Ogemaw Heights (2-0) After starting 0-2 and then 2-4 last season, Ogemaw Heights rallied to finish 11-9. The Falcons have reversed that start so far this winter, starting with a 63-57 win over Sanford Meridian, which won 16 games last season.
International Academy of Flint (3-0) The Phoenix finished 8-11 last season, and after a week they’re nearly halfway toward equaling that success. What’s more, those first three victories over Genesee, New Haven Merritt Academy and Burton Atherton all came by at least 17 points.
Mason County Central (2-0) The Spartans are seeking their first winning season since 2017-18, and they improved four wins last season from the year before to 7-15. They remain on the right track, with a 25-point win over Manistee last week followed by a 51-44 victory over North Muskegon – which handed Mason County Central two of its defeats last winter.
Fowler (2-0) The Eagles were a solid 13-8 last season, but quickly made themselves a team to watch for potentially more this winter. They opened with a 39-36 win over Carson City-Crystal – 17-4 last winter – and followed with a 47-39 win over Dansville after splitting with the Aggies in 2021-22.
Pittsford (2-0) Last season’s 11-11 finish began with an 0-2 start, but Pittsford has reversed that to open this winter. Those losses came to Britton Deerfield and Athens, but last week the Wildcats edged Britton Deerfield 54-53 in overtime and then defeated Athens by 45.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Thursday – Hamtramck (2-1) at North Farmington (2-0) – These two both are expected to be among the Division 1 elite this winter, with the only first-week loss between them Hamtramck’s to King by two in double overtime.
Friday – Flint Carman-Ainsworth (1-1) at Warren De La Salle Collegiate (2-0) – The reigning Division 1 champion Pilots have loaded December with nonleague tests, and this might be one of the tougher ones.
Friday – Rockford (2-0) at Muskegon (0-0) – These two reigning league champions combined for 39 wins last season before both ran into eventual Division 1 semifinalist Grand Rapids Northview.
Friday – Chesaning (3-0) at Ovid-Elsie (2-0) – The Marauders edged Chesaning by a game last season to win the Mid-Michigan Activities Conference, but then lost to Chesaning by a point in their District Semifinal.
Saturday – Saginaw (2-0) at Kalamazoo Central (1-0) – The Trojans finish a busy week at the Maroon Giants’ Don Jackson Invitational after also hosting Grand Blanc and facing Lansing Everett at Delta College.
MHSAA.com'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 www.michigan.gov/mistudentaid and find more information on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.
PHOTO Otsego opened with wins last week over Portage Central and Niles. (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.