Breslin Bound: Boys A-B Semis Preview

March 19, 2014

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Winning an MHSAA championship Saturday will be thrilling enough for whichever teams emerge from eight Class A and B semifinalists heading to the Breslin Center on Friday. 

But the two that finish this weekend as champions will be able to celebrate some additional historical significance. 

Four of those eight teams are seeking their first MHSAA title. The most recent championship among the four that have won before came way back in 1965. 

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. (See Class C and D previews and schedule in a separate post.)

Semifinals - Friday
Class A

Mount Pleasant (22-4) vs. Muskegon (26-0), 1 p.m.
Detroit U-D Jesuit (22-2) vs. Bloomfield Hills (23-3), 2:50 p.m.

Class B
Benton Harbor (16-9) vs. Cadillac (19-6), 6 p.m.
Detroit Douglass (17-9) vs. Milan (23-3), 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 on a pay-per-view basis. All four Finals will be broadcast live on Fox Sports Detroit-PLUS. Free radio broadcasts of all weekend games will be available on

And now, a look at the Semifinalists in Class A and B.

Class A

23-3, No. 8
League finish: Second in Oakland Activities Association Red
Coach: Duane Graves, first season (23-3) 
Championship history: Has not played in an MHSAA Final (first season as a school). 
Best wins: 74-62, 73-57 and 53-52 (Regional Final) over honorable mention Clarkston, 67-60 over Class B No. 7 Milan.
Players to watch: Armand Cartwright, 6-2 sr. G; Yante Maten, 6-8 sr. C. (Statistics not submitted.)
Outlook: Neither Bloomfield Hills Lahser nor Andover ever made it to a Quarterfinal, much less the final weekend of the season. But the school created when those two joined last summer has done so immediately under Graves, who coached Lahser before the merger. Cartwright scored his 1,000th career point this season. Maten is an absolute force in the post, and those two led Lahser to a District title last season as well.

Record/rank: 22-2, No. 3
League finish: Tied for first in Detroit Catholic League Central
Coach: Pat Donnelly, sixth season (90-43) 
Championship history: Has not played in an MHSAA Final.   
Best wins: 54-53 (Quarterfinal) and 67-57 over No. 6 Romulus,52-51 over No. 10 Detroit Cass Tech in Regional Final, 47-45 over No. 7 Detroit Southeastern in Regional Semifinal, 59-32 over honorable mention Detroit Renaissance in District opener.
Players to watch: Cassius Winston, 6-1 soph. G (18.4 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 8.7 apg, 4.3 spg); Noah King, 6-4 sr. F (12.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg).
Outlook: Jesuit won its first Regional championship last week after losing during the regular season only to Catholic League rival Warren DeLaSalle and in overtime to Ohio’s Toledo St. John. The starting lineup includes four seniors along with leading scorer Winston, and sophomore guard Billy Thomas is the team’s second-leading scorer with 13.7 points per game off the bench.

Record/rank: 22-4, honorable mention
League finish: Tied for second in Saginaw Valley Association North
Coach: Dan Schell, second season (33-14) 
Championship history: Class B Lower Peninsula champion 1932, three runner-up finishes.  
Best wins: 69-60 over No. 5 Saginaw Arthur Hill, 64-61 over honorable mention Flint Carman-Ainsworth in Regional Final, 64-54 over Cadillac.
Players to watch: Jaleel Hogan, 6-6 sr. F (16.5 ppg, 11.4 rpg); Aaron Leasher, 6-3 sr. G (11.2 ppg, 3.8 apg. 2.9 spg).
Outlook: The Oilers fell just one win shy of tying for the SVA North championship, but did return to the Quarterfinals for the first time since 1982 – and are seeking their first championship game berth since finishing runner-up in 1981. Hogan, who will play next season at the University of Detroit Mercy, is one of eight seniors who have helped the team improve 11 wins from last season.

Record/rank: 26-0, No. 1
League finish: First in Ottawa-Kent Black
Coach: Keith Guy, second season (45-7) 
Championship history: Two MHSAA titles (most recent 1937), two runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 88-78 over No. 5 Saginaw Arthur Hill, 65-50 over honorable mention Westland John Glenn, 68-59 over Class C No. 1 Mount Clemens, 73-55 over Benton Harbor.
Players to watch: Deshaun Thrower, 6-0 sr. G (18.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 7.0 apg, 3.0 spg); Deyonta Davis, 6-9 jr. F/C (14.2 ppg, 13.6 rpg, 7.0 bpg); Joeviair Kennedy, 6-3 jr. F (12.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg).
Outlook: Muskegon is back in the Semifinals for the first time since 1947 and has made this undefeated run with only four seniors. But one is Mr. Basketball and standout football quarterback Thrower, and Davis is likely the Mr. Basketball favorite for 2014-15. Guy formerly led Muskegon Heights to a number of successful seasons during the 2000s.  

Class B

Record/rank: 16-9, unranked
League finish: Tied for third in Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference West
Coach: Corey Sterling, second season (34-16) 
Championship history: Three MHSAA titles (most recent 1965), six runner-up finishes.  
Best wins: 68-61 over No. 1 Wyoming Godwin Heights in Semifinal, 78-73 over T-No. 5 Otsego in Regional Final, 72-63 over Class A No. 9 Battle Creek Central.
Players to watch: Cortez Moore, 6-6 sr. F (21 ppg, 12 rpg, 4.0 apg, 4.0 spg, 3.0 bpg); Jaton Gunn, 6-2 soph. F/G (18 ppg, 3.0 apg, 3.0 spg).
Outlook: Given Benton Harbor’s strong hoops reputation, it’s hard to believe this is the team’s first Semifinal run since 1993. And it came with consecutive upsets of top-five teams, including handing Godwin Heights its only loss this winter. Sterling was a member of that 1993 Class A runner-up team playing for longtime coach Paul Wilhite. Sophomore point guard Curtis Dawson runs the show adding 11 points, seven assists and six steals per game.

Record/rank: 19-6, unranked
League finish: Tied for second in Big North Conference
Coach: Jeff McDonald, 20th season (322-131) 
Championship history: Has not played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 55-49 OT over Big Rapids in Quarterfinal, 46-42 over Mason County Central in Regional Final, 55-52 over Escanaba in Regional Semifinal, 50-42 over Petoskey.
Players to watch: Jalen Brooks, 6-4 sr. F (17.6 ppg, 7.8 rpg); Justin Liptak, 6-5 sr. C (9.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg).  
Outlook: Cadillac has won its last four games by six or fewer points to return to the Semifinals for the second straight season. A win Friday would give the Vikings at least 20 in four straight seasons, along with four straight District and Regionals titles. Junior guard Andrew Emington adds another 9.2 points per game from the backcourt.

Record/rank: 17-9, honorable mention
League finish: Third in Detroit Public School League East Division 1 
Coach: Nkwane Young, 10th season (154-72) 
Championship history: Has not played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 41-39 over No. 10 Ferndale University in District Final, 69-56 over No. 9 Detroit Country Day in Regional Final, 48-45 over Class A No. 7 Detroit Southeastern, 49-46 and 62-26 over Class A honorable mention Detroit Renaissance.
Player to watch: Darrell Davis, 6-5 sr. G (24.6 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 4.2 apg, 2.0 spg). 
Outlook: Douglass has taken the next step after winning its fifth straight District title and second Regional championship during that string. Davis, who will play at University of Dayton next season, was a Mr. Basketball finalist and plays both guard spots. He’s also one of seven seniors, with forward DeShawn Sanders and point guard Terrell Hales also starters.

Record/rank: 23-3, No. 7
League finish: First in Huron League
Coach: Josh Tropea, fifth season (90-27) 
Championship history: Class C champion 1948.
Best wins: 62-53 over honorable mention Wayland in Quarterfinal, 55-40 over honorable mention Detroit Community in Regional Final, 42-40 (District Semifinal), 57-37 and 59-50 over honorable mention Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central, 57-54 over Class A No. 9 Battle Creek Central.
Players to watch: Latin Davis, 5-9 jr. G (15.9 ppg, 3.8 apg); Nick Perkins, 6-7 jr. F (15 ppg, 9.1 rpg).  
Outlook: Milan upped its winning streak to 18 by winning its first Quarterfinal appearance since 1948. The Big Reds lost to a couple of strong Class A schools in Saginaw and Bloomfield Hills during the regular season, which no doubt helped prepare for a competitive string of Class B opponents the last three weeks. The team has only three seniors, with 6-3 guard Donovan Verges adding 9.4 ppg. 

PHOTO: Detroit Douglass' Darrell Davis looks for an open teammate during Tuesday's Quarterfinal win over Goodrich. (Photo courtesy of Detroit Public School League.)

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.