Breslin Bound: Boys A-B Semis Preview
March 20, 2013
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Some semi-ancient history is at risk of being updated during the Class A and B Finals this weekend at Michigan State University's Breslin Center.
Detroit Southeastern is seeking is first title since 1926 and Grand Rapids Christian since 1938. Wyoming Godwin Heights will play for its first championship game berth since 1960, but also as one of three Class B Semifinalists looking to win it all for the first time.
Standing in the way? In Class A, it's reigning champion Saginaw and heavy favorite Romulus. In Class B, one of the state's most successful programs ever, Detroit Country Day.
Below is the schedule for all four Friday Semifinals and Saturday Finals, plus broadcast information and a look at all eight A and B Semifinalists.
Semifinals - Friiday
Romulus (25-1) vs Grand Rapids Christian (20-6), 1 p.m.
Detroit Southeastern (20-5) vs Saginaw (23-3), 2:50 p.m.
Cadillac (21-4) vs Detroit Country Day (23-3), 6 p.m.
Detroit Community (17-9) vs Wyoming Godwin Heights (23-2), 7:50 p.m.
Finals - Saturday
Class A - Noon
Class B - 6:30 pm
Class C - 4:30 pm
Class D - 10 am
Tickets cost $8 per pair of Semifinals and $10 per two-game Finals session. All Semifinals will be streamed live on MHSAA.tv and available on a pay-per-view basis for $3.95 per day or $6.95 for the weekend. Saturday's first three Finals will be broadcast live on Fox Sports Detroit, with the Class B game on Fox Sports Plus and then re-broadcast on Fox Sports Detroit at 10:30 p.m.. Free radio broadcasts of all weekend games will be available on MHSAANetwork.com.
And now, a look at the Semifinalists in Class A and B.
Record/rank: 20-5, honorable mention
League finish: Second in Detroit Public School League East
Coach: George Ward, fourth season (82-15)
Championship history: Two MHSAA titles (most recently 1926), one runner-up finish.
Best wins: 54-49 (OT) over honorable mention Macomb L’Anse Creuse North (Regional Final), 54-49 over Rochester (Quarterfinal), 71-52 over Class B No. 4 Harper Woods Chandler Park, 48-44 over Class B No. 10 Detroit Douglass.
Players to watch: Jovone Haynes, 6-0 sr. G; Kenyatta Singleton, 6-0 sr. G. (Statistics not submitted.)
Outlook: Although Southeastern’s championships came in 1925 and 1926, they finished Class A runner-up only two seasons ago and with Singleton a prominent player off the bench. That Southeastern was likely the third-best Detroit PSL team during the regular season speaks to the league’s strength again this winter, and the Jungaleers lost to reigning Class A champion Saginaw and No. 8 Detroit Cass Tech by one point apiece and Ann Arbor Pioneer and River Rouge by only two each.
GRAND RAPIDS CHRISTIAN
Record/rank: 20-6, honorable mention
League finish: First in O-K White
Coach: Steve Majerle, first season (20-6)
Championship history: Lower Peninsula Class B champion 1938, one runner-up finish.
Best wins: 72-69 over No. 9 East Kentwood (District Semifinal), 64-61 over honorable mention Lansing Waverly (Regional Semifinal), 78-70 over honorable mention Holt (Regional Final), 64-61 over Muskegon, 70-59 over Class B No. 6 Wyoming Godwin Heights.
Players to watch: Drake Harris, 6-4 jr. G; Wuoi Mach, 6-4 sr. C. (Statistics not submitted.)
Outlook: Grand Rapids Christian has been surging with 10 straight wins and avenged a previous 24-point loss by beating Muskegon in the Quarterfinal. Harris is the catalyst and will try to add a basketball championship to the football title in which he played a large role at the end of November. Majerle previously coached Rockford to the 2003 Class A championship.
Record/rank: 25-1, No. 2
League finish: First in Western Wayne Athletic Conference Blue
Coach: Nate Oats, 11th season (220-52)
Championship history: Class A champion 1986, one runner-up finish.
Best wins: 93-91 over No. 1 Detroit Pershing (Quarterfinal), 82-71 over No. 4 Saginaw Arthur Hill, 93-63 over No. 6 Saginaw, 75-65 over Class B No. 1 Detroit Country Day.
Players to watch: E.C. Matthews, 6-4 sr. G (16.2 ppg, 6.0 rpg); Leonardo Edwards, 6-8 sr. C (11 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 2.1 bpg), Wes Clark, 6-0 sr. G (11.8 ppg, 5.7 apg).
Outlook: Throw in wins over Lansing Sexton, Detroit Community, Detroit Douglass, Detroit Consortium, Chicago Seton and Indianapolis Cathedral, and no team in Michigan has defeated as impressive a slate. The Eagles’ lone loss was to Pershing by six in their second game this season, and Romulus avenged that Tuesday. Senior forward Jalon Plummer (11.2 ppg, 47 3-pointers) also adds double-digit scoring. Matthews has signed with Rhode Island, Clark with Missouri and Edwards with Louisiana Tech.
Record/rank: 23-3, No. 6
League finish: Second in Saginaw Valley Association North
Coach: Julian Taylor, second season (48-5)
Championship history: Six MHSAA titles (most recently 2012), four runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 75-64 and 86-76 (District Final) over No. 4 Saginaw Arthur Hill, 57-56 over honorable mention Detroit Southeastern, 86-61 over Class B No. 4 Harper Woods Chandler Park.
Players to watch: Julian Henderson, 6-2 sr. G; Keyon Addison, 6-1 jr. G. (Statistics not submitted.)
Outlook: The Trojans have won three of the last six Class A championships, and Henderson was the second-leading scorer in last season’s title game win over Rockford. Saginaw already avenged its early loss to Arthur Hill, and no doubt would like to face Romulus again after falling to the Eagles in the regular-season finale.
Record/rank: 21-4, unranked
League finish: Tied for first in Big North Conference
Coach: Jeff McDonald, 19th season (303-124)
Championship history: Has not played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 41-29 over No. 8 Big Rapids (Semifinal), 47-46 over Petoskey, 56-53 over Traverse City West.
Players to watch: Nick Paquet, 5-9 sr. G (15 ppg, 45 3-pointers); Jalen Brooks, 6-4 jr. F (12.9 ppg, 5.5 rpg).
Outlook: Cadillac is 63-11 over the last three seasons with Regional championships to cap off each. The Vikings also won a share of their league title this season by avenging early losses against other sharers Petoskey and Traverse City West. They have good size, with five players 6-4 or taller, and plenty of balance; four more join Paquet and Brooks to average between four and seven points per game.
Record/rank: 17-9, unranked
League finish: Second in Michigan Metro Athletic Conference
Coach: Venias Jordan, Jr., first season (17-9)
Championship history: Has not played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 50-47 over honorable mention Jackson Lumen Christi (Quarterfinal), 61-48 over Class C No. 8 Melvindale Academy for Business & Technology,
Player to watch: Byron Zeigler, 6-6 sr. F (statistics not submitted).
Outlook: Don’t be fooled by Community’s nine losses. Instead, consider some of the teams they came against: Class A top-10 teams Detroit Pershing (by two), Cass Tech and Romulus, honorable mention Detroit Southeastern, ranked Class C Detroit Consortium and reigning Class D champion Southfield Christian, among others. Zeigler has signed with South Florida.
DETROIT COUNTRY DAY
Record/rank: 23-3, No. 1
League finish: Does not play in a league.
Coach: Kurt Keener, 35th season (676-180)
Championship history: Eight MHSAA titles (most recently 2010), one runner-up finish.
Best wins: 75-57 over No. 4 Harper Woods Chandler Park (Regional Semifinal), 73-51 over No. 10 Detroit Douglass (Regional Final), 68-48 over Class A honorable mention Macomb L’Anse Creuse North, 86-61 over Class A No. 4 Saginaw Arthur Hill.
Players to watch: Edmond Sumner, 6-3 jr. G (16.1 ppg, 6.2 apg); Austin Price, 6-3 sr. G (12.4 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 63 3-pointers, 3.2 spg); Mory Diane, 6-2 sr. G (12.1 ppg).
Outlook: A few fun Country Day facts: The last time the Yellowjackets didn’t make it to Breslin was 2009; the last time they finished a season with fewer than 20 wins was 2004. Country Day starts out small (relatively speaking; no player is shorter than 5-11) but can get big with future Texas Tech offensive lineman Poet Thomas (6-7, 285 pounds) off the bench. Price has signed with Lehigh and makes nearly 40 percent of his 3-point shots.
WYOMING GODWIN HEIGHTS
Record/rank: 23-2, No. 6
League finish: First in O-K Silver
Coach: Chad Conklin, sixth season (98-39)
Championship history: Two runner-up finishes (most recently 1960).
Best wins: 79-72 over No. 7 Comstock Park (Regional Semifinal), 56-52 over No. 2 Stevensville Lakeshore (Quarterfinal), 60-58 over Class D No. 1 Wyoming Tri-unity Christian
Players to watch: Jamal Bland, 5-10 sr. G (14.9 ppg, 3.2 apg); Quantrell Hastings, 6-1 sr. F (15.9 ppg, 7.3 rpg).
Outlook: One more win and Godwin Heights will have improved on or tied the previous season’s win total in all six of Conklin’s winters running the program. Senior guard Braima Hai (10.9 ppg, 5.2 apg) runs the show, and sophomore guard Delaney Blaylock (11.2 ppg) also scores in double figures.
PHOTO: Saginaw junior Joseph Williams-Powell (44) drives against a Midland defender during the Trojans' Regional Semifinal win last week. (Click to see more at HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)
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.