Breslin Bound: 2022-23 Boys Report Week 10
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
February 13, 2023
From strictly an anecdotal point of view, it’s appeared Michigan’s best boys basketball teams have matched up more this regular season than most in recent memory.
No doubt, expanding the schedule to 22 games has helped provide a few more opportunities. And it seems like every Saturday over the last 10 weeks has included one or more showcase events where several of the elite have faced off – which makes the nine undefeated teams we have left all the more impressive.
Detroit Cass Tech stands alone among the undefeated in Division 1, while Hart, Olivet and Standish-Sterling are without a loss in Division 2. Laingsburg and Napoleon are undefeated in Division 3, and Mio, Painesdale Jeffers and Taylor Trillium are at 1.000 winning percentages in Division 4. Another 24 teams have only one loss this season, and 20 have only two defeats – and we highlight a number of these teams below.
“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. Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice 73, Detroit U-D Jesuit 62 The Warriors (16-1) completed an outright championship run through the Detroit Catholic League Central, leaving the Cubs (15-3) in second place, and after finishing second to Jesuit last season.
2. Ferndale 82, Port Huron Northern 65 The Division 2 Eagles (9-6) are up to eight wins over their last nine games, this one over another Division 1 contender in PHN (16-2).
3. Munising 54, Powers North Central 49 The Upper Peninsula has four of the top nine teams in Division 4 MPR, and Munising (16-1) sits No. 9 but has another argument to be regarded higher after defeating No. 4 North Central (11-3).
4. Davison 94, Flint Hamady 90 (5OT) The finale of Davison’s Cardinal Classic was classic and memorable finishing in just under two hours and 10 minutes as the Cardinals (13-5) edged the Hawks (15-3).
5. Pittsford 71, Hillsdale Academy 66 (3OT) The Wildcats (12-3) avenged a 12-point loss to Hillsdale Academy (11-4) from Jan. 12 as the top teams in the Southern Central Athletic Association East met for the rematch.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
Ann Arbor Huron (16-1) A loss to Saline on Jan. 31 is the only misstep during an otherwise perfect run. Huron can clinch a share of the Southeastern Conference Red championship Tuesday against Monroe, which will go well with showcase victories over Port Huron Northern (16-2) and Benton Harbor (13-4) over the last three weeks. The River Rats also are coming off a 57-41 win over Ypsilanti Lincoln – which defeated Huron in its District opener last season after Huron had finished Division 1 runner-up in 2020-21.
Grosse Pointe South (15-3) The Blue Devils have gone from 11-11 overall and nearly worst to first in the Macomb Area Conference Red, having tied for fourth last season but clinching a perfect run to the league title with last week’s win over Macomb Dakota. This potential showed during two losses to start the season as they fell by only three to Detroit Loyola (17-1) and six to Ferndale, and the third loss was by just seven to River Rouge (12-5). South meanwhile has downed West Bloomfield (12-3), Saline (12-5), Birmingham Groves (11-5) and Roseville (11-6) twice.
Warren Lincoln (15-3) The Abes have built on last season’s 19-3 momentum with another league championship, this one in the MAC Gold, and Saturday’s 74-63 win over host Benton Harbor at the Wilson Chandler Shootout was the team’s ninth-straight win. Lincoln has done it against a stacked schedule, falling only to Brother Rice, Warren Fitzgerald and Muskegon (15-1) while defeating North Farmington (15-1), Detroit Martin Luther King and Grand Rapids Northview (13-4) and sweeping Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse (13-4) and Warren Woods Tower (13-5).
Warren Michigan Collegiate (14-2) A two-point double-overtime loss to Grand Rapids Christian on Feb. 4 broke a 12-game winning streak, but the only other defeat came to reigning Division 1 champion Warren De La Salle Collegiate as the Cougars have mostly dominated. A 45-44 victory over Orchard Lake St. Mary’s and 63-56 win over Detroit Edison are among the most notable work, with the latter earning Michigan Collegiate the Charter School Conference East championship.
Grandville Calvin Christian (15-1) The Squires have followed up last season’s 19-4 finish in part with a 14-game winning streak, their lone loss to Hudsonville Unity Christian on Dec. 9. The two months of undefeated play have included eight wins over teams with double-digit victories, including 62-54 over Hopkins and 60-54 over Wyoming Godwin Heights last week as Calvin Christian finished regular-season sweeps of those opponents. The Squires lead Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian by two games in the Ottawa-Kent Conference Silver with four to play – and they meet Feb. 24 after Calvin won the first round 83-66 on Jan. 27.
Ovid-Elsie (14-2) The Marauders are a combined 30-6 over the last two seasons as they play for a second-straight Mid-Michigan Activities Conference championship. Chesaning (15-3) has become a solid rival – those two have decided the last three league titles – and they’re tied for first with their rematch Friday deciding a share of the MMAC crown. Ovid-Elsie won the first meeting 55-51 in overtime Jan. 16, but had an early loss to Durand (14-3) – which it avenged 49-47 on Friday. Ovid-Elsie’s only other defeat came to undefeated Laingsburg (16-0) – a possible District opponent.
Bellevue (14-1) Going over 20 wins with a league championship has become the norm for the Broncos, and they’re working on a possible eighth-straight conference title this winter with their only loss nonleague to Bronson on Dec. 28. They’ve otherwise been perfect and mostly unchallenged, with only one single-digit win. The defensive work has been especially impressive; Bellevue has held three straight opponents (including Pittsford, see above) to under 20 points, and only three opponents all winter have scored more than 32.
Ironwood (13-3) The Red Devils followed two straight sub-.500 finishes with a 12-10 run last season, and they’ve raised their play a few more levels – especially over the last three weeks as they’ve won seven straight beginning with a 54-51 overtime victory over Watersmeet. Ironwood and Watersmeet are the main contenders in the Copper Mountain Conference Porcupine Mountain title race, and they meet again Feb. 16. A pair of strong in-state losses – to undefeated Painesdale Jeffers (16-0) and Houghton (12-3) – also are part of the resume.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Monday – Hillman (14-1) at Mio (14-0) – The leaders of the North Star League’s divisions meet in advance of a possible rematch at their Division 4 District.
Wednesday – Pewamo-Westphalia (12-3) at Laingsburg (16-0) – There are still tough games to win in the Central Michigan Athletic Conference, but getting two clear of the second-place Pirates would go a long way for the league-leading Wolfpack.
Thursday – Richmond (15-1) at Croswell-Lexington (13-3) – The Blue Devils are threatening Croswell-Lexington’s three-year hold on the Blue Water Area Conference title, having won their first matchup 53-44 on Jan. 19 to take the league lead.
Friday – Benton Harbor (13-4) at Niles Brandywine (14-1) – The Tigers’ 73-54 win over Brandywine on Jan. 13 is the difference at the top of the Lakeland Conference standings, and Benton Harbor can clinch a share of the title by finishing a regular-season sweep.
Saturday – Muskegon (15-1) at Grand Blanc (15-2) – The cross-state tilts among contenders are winding down for the regular season, and this will be one of the last but also could be one of the best.
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PHOTOS (Top) Fowler and Bath tip off Friday in a game Bath would eventually win 75-66 in overtime. (Middle) Jakobie Boose (4) elevates for a jumper as Flint Hamady and Davison closed the Cardinal Classic with a five-overtime matchup won by the Cardinals 94-90. (Below) Negaunee's Gavin Saunders (23) is defended by Ishpeming's Griffin Argall (24) during the Miners' 63-42 win. (Photos by John Johnson, Terry Lyons 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.