Breslin Bound: 2022-23 Boys Report Week 12
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
February 27, 2023
The seeds for this season’s District brackets are set as 726 Michigan boys basketball teams are finishing up their regular seasons this week in advance of the playoffs beginning March 6.
Brackets were seeded and filled Sunday, and published here for all four divisions:
Division 1 | Division 2 | Division 3 | Division 4
This will be the last of our regular-season “Breslin Bound” reports, as next week we switch the format up a bit while previewing several of the strongest Districts across the state.
“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. Grand Rapids South Christian 82, Grand Rapids Catholic Central 54 The Sailors (18-3) also needed to defeat Cedar Springs three days later, but this win over GRCC (15-6) opened the opportunity to share the Ottawa-Kent Conference Gold title with the Cougars and also ended their 75-game league winning streak going back to Feb. 21, 2017.
2. Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice 68, Detroit U-D Jesuit 63 The Warriors (20-1) claimed their first Detroit Catholic League tournament championship reportedly since 1990 with their third win this season over the Cubs (17-4).
3. East Kentwood 61, Hudsonville 49 Friday’s winner-take-all for the outright O-K Red championship went to the Falcons (16-5), who had fallen to Hudsonville (15-6) by nine Jan. 27.
4. Warren Michigan Collegiate 58, Romulus Summit Academy 50 The Cougars (18-2) clinched the Charter School Conference tournament title in a rematch of last season’s championship game, won by Summit (18-2).
5. Hart 63, Mason County Central 45 The Pirates moved to 20-0 and clinched the outright West Michigan Conference Rivers championship – reportedly their first league title since 1963 in boys hoops.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
East Kentwood (16-5) The Falcons have hit their stride during a seven-game winning streak that included clinching the O-K Red title (see above) and also avenging an earlier loss to Grandville, plus defeating Detroit Old Redford at Benton Harbor’s Wilson Chandler Shootout. East Kentwood was 6-15 just a season ago and 3-12 the year before that, but also has pairs of wins over Rockford (14-7) and Grand Haven (16-5) this season and an opportunity to impress further in the regular-season finale against South Christian.
River Rouge (15-5) The Panthers have won 10 of their last 12 as they prepare for the postseason, with a pair of wins over Hamtramck (13-7) and others over Davison (16-6), Lansing Waverly (16-6), Grosse Pointe South (17-4) and Brownstown Woodhaven (16-4) boosted by good losses to Brother Rice and Ferndale among others. Rouge earned the second seed at the District at Detroit Cass Tech, with another boost from defeating Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 63-59 at Saturday’s 313 Classic.
Cadillac (16-4) The Vikings bounced back from two and one-point losses to Traverse City Central and Petoskey, respectively, to defeat Traverse City West 58-30 on Friday and clinch a shared Big North Conference championship with the Trojans. It was a repeat of the 2021-22 league finish, and Cadillac will hope to build on last season’s playoff run as well after reaching the Division 2 Quarterfinals. Cadillac followed up the one-point loss to the Northmen with a one-point win over Big Rapids (17-2), which went well with other impressive victories over Ludington (18-2) and McBain (17-4).
Grand Rapids South Christian (18-3) As noted above, the Sailors ended GRCC’s incredible league winning streak – but that wasn’t the first highlight for South Christian this winter. Total, the Sailors have 11 victories over teams with double-digit wins, and 15 victories have come by double digits. They started 1-2 with losses to Grand Rapids Christian and Grand Rapids Northview, but those along with a loss to GRCC in their first meeting no doubt helped boost South into the top seed in its District at Plainwell.
Ecorse (13-3) After reaching the Division 3 Semifinals a year ago, Ecorse is picking up plenty of momentum for a repeat run with 11 straight wins after taking its three losses consecutively in December to larger Oak Park, Detroit Renaissance and Detroit Catholic Central. The Raiders have gone over 80 points seven times and 90 points five times during this current streak, which began with a win over Division 1 Woodhaven. Ecorse most recently defeated Detroit University Prep Art & Design (14-5) by four at the 313 Classic.
Traverse City St. Francis (17-3) The Gladiators appear to be in top form, having earned a shared Lake Michigan Conference title last week in part by defeating then-leader Boyne City 58-34 to avenge a Jan. 24 loss to the Ramblers. The only other defeats came to Division 1 Grand Haven and Detroit Cass Tech (21-0), and the latter by only seven points. St. Francis will squeeze the last bits of prep possible out of this week with tests against McBain (17-4) and Cadillac before heading into the District at Lake City seeded first and opposite postseason rival Glen Lake (17-3).
Rudyard (16-5) The Bulldogs are among the handful of Upper Peninsula schools that play in multiple conferences, and while they are third in the Straits Area Conference they have finished a perfect run through the Eastern Upper Peninsula Conference. Only last week, to Sault St. Marie, did Rudyard take its first loss by more than five points. The Bulldogs are seeded first in the District they host next week, with four other EUPC teams in the field. Wins over Mackinaw City (17-3) and Indian River Inland Lakes (15-5) no doubt provided a solid boost toward that rating.
Wyoming Tri-unity Christian (15-5) The reigning Division 4 champion is a win better than at this point last season, and with the same kind of experience as usual having played mostly larger schools outside of league play. A pair of losses by a combined five points have the Defenders as part of a three-way tie for second place in the Alliance League, but they have four wins over teams with 12 or more victories – most recently against Pewamo-Westphalia (12-6) and reigning Division 3 champion Schoolcraft (13-7).
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – Ferndale (12-7) at North Farmington (17-1) – These two have the top MPRs in Divisions 2 and 1, respectively, and are second and first in the Oakland Activities Association Red thanks to North Farmington’s 50-48 win in the first meeting Jan. 31.
Tuesday – Kalamazoo Central (18-2) at Muskegon (19-2) – A pair of programs with two of the longest traditions of success in state history match up in the regular-season finale for both.
Thursday – Grand Blanc (19-2) at Flint Beecher (16-3) – Grand Blanc has won the last two meetings between these Flint-area powers, in regular-season finales last year and in 2020.
Thursday – Iron Mountain (19-1) at Negaunee (15-5) – The Mountaineers have a one-game lead on the Miners heading into this Western Peninsula Athletic Conference East finale.
Friday – Detroit Cass Tech (21-0) vs. Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (20-1) at Detroit Mercy – This Calihan Hall Operation Friendship showdown of champions could end up among the most memorable in the series in some time.
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 takes on Paw Paw on Friday in an eventual 58-44 win that kept the Bulldogs atop the Wolverine Conference standings. (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.