Breslin Bound: Boys C-D Semis Preview
March 19, 2014
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
One contender at Thursday’s MHSAA Class C and D Semifinals is hoping to finish this weekend with a third straight championship. Another is hoping to begin a three-season winning streak at the Breslin Center.
Two-time reigning Class D champion Southfield Christian returns four starters and a top sub from its 2013 title team. And Detroit Consortium is seeking its first championship – but led by sophomore Joshua Jackson, arguably the state’s top player regardless of class or grade.
Below is the schedule for all four Thursday Semifinals and four Saturday Finals, plus broadcast information and a look at all eight C and D semifinalists. (Class A and B previews and Friday’s schedule will be posted later Thursday.)
Semifinals - Thursday
Pewamo-Westphalia (22-2) vs. Muskegon Heights (20-3), 1 p.m.
Detroit Consortium (23-2) vs. Negaunee (24-1), 2:50 p.m.
Frankfort (20-6) vs. Southfield Christian (24-1), 6 p.m.
Cedarville (23-2) vs. Adrian Lenawee Christian (20-4), 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 MHSAANetwork.com.
And now, a look at the Semifinalists in Class C and D.
Record/rank: 23-2, No. 2
League finish: Does not play in a league.
Coach: Tobias Tuomi, first season (23-2)
Championship history: Has not played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 67-61 over No. 1 Mount Clemens in Quarterfinal, 64-48 over No. 5 Detroit Allen in Regional Semifinal, 72-57 over Class A No. 5 Saginaw Arthur Hill, 58-43 over Class A No. 7 Detroit Southeastern, 79-72 over Class A No. 6 Romulus, 87-70 over Class B No. 9 Detroit Country Day, 67-52 over Class B honorable mention Detroit Douglass.
Players to watch: Joshua Jackson, 6-8 soph. G/F (25 ppg, 14.7 rpg, 5.2 apg, 3.9 spg, 3.7 bpg); Ronald Booth, 5-9 sr. G (12.1 ppg, 8.2 apg, 3.2 spg).
Outlook: Consortium has beaten a schedule loaded with top teams from Classes A, B and C, similar to how Johnson loads up a stat sheet in every category – he also had 30 3-pointers entering the week making 46 percent of those attempts and 70 percent from the field as a whole. Two more guards, senior Rudy Smith (9.7) and sophomore Luster Johnson (10.5), add to the potent offense.
Record/rank: 20-3, No. 9
League finish: Does not play in a league.
Coach: Dalrecus Stewart, second season (39-8)
Championship history: Six MHSAA titles (most recent 1979) eight runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 59-57 over honorable mention Hillsdale in Quarterfinal, 72-59 over Saugatuck in District opener, 67-66 over Benton Harbor, 92-52 over Class D No. 7 Baldwin.
Players to watch: Eddrick Tornes, 6-1 sr. G (12 ppg); Aaron Sydnor, 6-3 sr. G/F (10.6 ppg).
Outlook: Muskegon Heights’ return to Breslin comes after it finished Class B runner-up in 2011, closed in spring 2012 and reopened that fall as a public school academy. The Tigers have one of the longest traditions of success in MHSAA history, with their first championship game appearance in 1939. Their losses this season are as notable as their best wins: by only one to No. 6 Shelby, just four to Class A Rockford and 12 to Class A Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills.
Record/rank: 22-2, No. 10
League finish: First in Central Michigan Athletic Conference
Coach: Luke Pohl, 17th season (312-75)
Championship history: Class C runner-up 1993.
Best wins: 42-41 over Flint Beecher in Quarterfinal, 59-55 over No. 6 Shelby in Regional Final, 57-46 over honorable mention Hillsdale, 66-19 over Class D honorable mention Fulton.
Players to watch: Lane Smith, 6-5 sr. C (11.3 ppg, 6.5 rpg); Nick Spitzley, 6-2 sr. G (18.7 ppg, 5.5 rpg).
Outlook: This run has been a career quest for a group of nine seniors, including five who start. The Pirates have won four straight league titles and Regional championships two of the last three seasons. Spitzley is a four-year standout and one of the top scorers in school history – he also had 61 3-pointers entering the week. As a team, P-W has shot an impressive 47 percent from the floor, with six players drilling at least 10 3-pointers. They are a combined five points from perfection, falling only to Detroit Loyola by two in the third game this season and Fulton by three before avenging with a 47-point win over the Pirates.
Record/rank: 24-1, No. 3
League finish: First in Mid-Peninsula Athletic Conference
Coach: Michael O’Donnell, ninth season (173-47)
Championship history: Three MHSAA titles (most recently 2000), two runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 63-42 over honorable mention East Jordan in Quarterfinal, 64-48 over Ishpeming in District Final, 61-55 over Class A honorable mention Marquette.
Players to watch: Tyler Jandron, 6-1 sr. G (17.5 ppg, 4.2 apg, 3.3 spg); Eric Lori, 5-10 sr. G (16.6 ppg, 3.6 apg).
Outlook: Negaunee was played closer by a lot of its opponents compared to during last season’s run to the Breslin, but the results were the same. The Miners have rattled off 21 straight wins since falling to Marquette and beat the Redmen along the way. Jandron and Lori are back as the team’s top-two leading scorers and with junior Robert Loy make up a strong three-guard backcourt. Total the trio had combined for 92 3-pointers heading into this week.
ADRIAN LENAWEE CHRISTIAN
Record/rank: 20-4, honorable mention
League finish: Does not play in a league.
Coach: Scott McKelvey, second season (39-8)
Championship history: Has not played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 56-51 OT over No. 5 Battle Creek St. Philip in Quarterfinal, 44-42 over Morenci in District Final, 46-44 over Class B honorable mention Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central.
Player to watch: Grant Holbein, 6-2 sr. G (11.1 ppg).
Outlook: Lenawee Christian avenged its lone loss to a Class D team, Morenci, with a close win in the District Final, and has taken a few more steps after finishing 19-4 and as Regional runner-up in 2012-13. The Cougars’ other losses this season were to Class B No. 1 Jackson Lumen Christi, Class C No. 5 Detroit Allen and Class C honorable mention Addison.
Record/rank: 23-2, No. 6
League finish: First in Eastern Upper Peninsula Conference
Coach: Dave Duncan, 24th season (404-168)
Championship history: Class D champion 2007, three runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 60-53 over honorable mention Frankfort, 63-57 over No. 8 Hillman in Regional Final, 81-79 over No. 2 Powers North Central in Quarterfinal.
Player to watch: Joey Duncan, 6-0 jr. G (21 ppg).
Outlook: Cedarville is plenty familiar with the season’s final week having won Regional titles eight of the last nine seasons, but is back at the Semifinals for the first time since finishing Class D runner-up in 2009. Joey Duncan was named all-state Tuesday and leads a squad with only three seniors. The Trojans scored at least 80 points in 11 games.
Record/rank: 20-6, honorable mention
League finish: Second in Northwest Conference
Coach: Reggie Manville, third season (41-23)
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 47-44 over honorable mention Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart, 75-71 over No. 7 Baldwin, 47-45 over Class C honorable mention Traverse City St. Francis.
Players to watch: David Loney, 6-3 jr. C (20.1 ppg, 11.2 rpg); Brandon Schaub, 5-10 sr. G (9.5 ppg, 2.3 apg).
Outlook: Frankfort played in its second straight Quarterfinal on Tuesday and advanced to its first Semifinal since 1969. The Panthers got that chance in part because they were able to get past Suttons Bay, which beat Frankfort twice during the regular season to finish on top of the Northwest Conference. Loney was named all-state Tuesday and keys an offense that is otherwise balanced, with six more players averaging 4-6 ppg. Manville formerly coached at Flint Southwestern for 14 seasons and then Big Rapids for one during the 1980s and 90s.
Record/rank: 24-1, No. 1
League finish: First in Michigan Independent Athletic Conference Blue
Coach: Clennie Brundidge, first season (24-1)
Championship history: MHSAA champion 2013 and 2012.
Best wins: 61-44 over No. 4 Peck in Quarterfinal, 54-51, 68-56 and 67-62 (Regional Final) over No. 9 Allen Park Inter-City Baptist, 75-62 and 66-47 over Auburn Hills Oakland Christian.
Players to watch: Bakari Evelyn, 6-1 jr. G (16 ppg, 4.6 apg); Lindsey Hunter IV, 5-10 sr. G (14.8 ppg); Damarco White, 6-6 sr. F (8.9 ppg, 8.4 rpg), Eugene Brown, 6-5 soph. G (11.4 ppg, 9.4 rpg).
Outlook: Southfield Christian is playing for its third straight MHSAA title, this time under promoted assistant Brundidge – who also has coached at Southfield and Troy. Hunter and White were named all-state and Brown received an honorable mention, and Evelyn joined Brown, White and junior guard Kameron Garner among starters in last season’s Final. The only loss this winter came to Class A No. 5 Saginaw Arthur Hill.
PHOTO: Pewamo-Westphalia's Nick Spitzley (right) matches up with Aquavius Burks during the Pirates' comeback win over reigning Class C champion Flint Beecher in Tuesday's Quarterfinal. (Click to see more from High School Sports Scene.)
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.