Breslin Bound: Boys District Preview
March 9, 2015
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
The reigning Class D champion is playing in Class C this season. Last year’s Class A and B champions have only three losses between them. And there are four undefeated teams in Class D – with next week’s Regional the earliest two can meet up.
We’ve got a chance to see some familiar faces for the MHSAA Boys Basketball Finals in three weeks, and likely a higher probability of seeing a few teams that have yet to lose this winter. But to determine who makes the trip, a ton of basketball must yet be played – beginning tonight.
To kick off Districts, this week's Breslin Bound report looks at five teams in each class that have made some of the biggest waves throughout this winter. Click to “track the tournament,” with results as we receive them and interactive brackets.
Clarkston (20-0) – The Wolves equaled last season’s win total by going undefeated during the regular season and now will be charged with surpassing last year’s Regional Final appearance. Clarkston won all but three games by double figures, including over Macomb Dakota (18-2) and Auburn Hills Avondale (17-3) during December and twice over North Farmington and Mr. Basketball candidate Jeron Rogers.
Detroit Western International (19-0) – The Cowboys posted big wins early, including 69-57 over Saginaw Arthur Hill (17-3), then rolled through the Detroit Public School League to win that championship for the first time since 1922. A 58-49 win over Detroit U-D Jesuit (17-3) in last week’s Operation Friendship game further cemented Western as a likely favorite.
East Kentwood (20-0) – The Falcons handed reigning Class A champion Muskegon its only loss, 58-57 on Dec. 30, and also beat a solid Birmingham Brother Rice team in December before storming through the Ottawa-Kent Conference Red to win that league title by three games. East Kentwood had finished second in the league and 13-8 overall a year ago.
Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central (20-0) – The Rangers repeated as champions in the O-K White, this season by four games, and own a 59-55 win over O-K Bronze champion Grand Rapids Northview (17-3), which ended Forest Hill Central’s 2013-14 season in the District Final. The Rangers twice beat Grand Rapids Christian, led by Mr. Basketball candidate DeLeon Brown.
Muskegon (19-1) – The Big Reds have more than made up for their first loss (see East Kentwood above) since 2012-13. Muskegon edged Saginaw Arthur Hill by two in mid-December, then beat Romulus (14-5) by 10 in mid-January and River Rouge (15-5) in the regular-season finale – in addition to winning the O-K Black by three games. Center Deyonta Davis is a favorite, perhaps the favorite, for the Mr. Basketball Award.
Flint Northwestern (15-3) – The Wildcats had a few stumbles through the middle and end of February, but still won the Saginaw Valley Association South by three games, losing only to third-place Flint Powers Catholic, Class A power Arthur Hill and Class C contender Flint Beecher. Northwestern opened this winter with a 10-game winning streak after finishing 6-13 only a season ago.
Milan (18-2) – The reigning Class B champion is revved for another run with 11 straight wins and another Huron League title that included a pair of victories over second-place Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central (17-3). Milan's losses were to Class A contenders Romulus and Detroit U-D Jesuit, and all 18 wins came by double-digit points.
New Haven (20-0) – The Rockets launched from 12-9 a year ago to return to a form more similar to their 19-4 team of 2012-13. They won the Macomb Area Conference Gold championship by three games, but the tournament will be an interesting test – New Haven moved up this school year from Class C. A 51-43 win over MAC Blue champion Mount Clemens on Feb. 27, however, is a good sign.
Wayland (17-3) – Although the Wildcats finished behind Class A Ottawa Hills in the O-K Gold standings, they lost only to Class A teams this season – twice to Ottawa Hills and once to Middleville Thornapple Kellogg – and posted a 17-point win on Otsego (17-3). Lacey James is a Mr. Basketball candidate and could carry Wayland far if it can get past Godwin Heights this week.
Wyoming Godwin Heights (19-1) – The Wolverines came back from a January loss to Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian to avenge two weeks later and finish as champion again in the O-K Silver. Godwin Heights is 44-2 over the last two seasons, having fallen in the 2014 Quarterfinals, and looks lined up for another run with February wins against North Farmington (17-3), Otsego and then Grand Rapids Christian on Tuesday.
Beaverton (20-0) – The Beavers have won at least 20 games three straight seasons and earned the Jack Pine Conference title. They won by fewer than double digits only three times – including twice over league-runner-up Clare (15-5). Beaverton also won a pair over Class D Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart (14-5) and by 16 over Vestaburg (17-2).
Flint Beecher (18-1) – The Buccaneers should be back in championship contention after falling by a point in last year’s Quarterfinals. They again won the Genesee Area Conference Red, this time by two games over Class B Goodrich (18-2), and also posted impressive victories over Saginaw (14-6), Flint Northwestern, River Rouge and reigning Class C champion Detroit Consortium (12-5).
Jackson Lumen Christi (18-2) – The Titans should be scary in Class C after making the Regional Finals in Class B last season and then finishing atop an Interstate 8 Athletic Conference filled with larger schools. Lumen Christi won the league title by a game over Class B Battle Creek Harper Creek (18-2) and also owns impressive wins over Hanover-Horton (19-1) and Flint Powers Catholic (14-6).
Hillsdale (20-0) – The Hornets have won at least 20 games four straight seasons and are looking to improve on last year’s Quarterfinal run. Hillsdale capped the regular season with a 53-50 win last week over Vandercook Lake (15-5), opened with a win over Adrian Madison (15-5) and also twice beat Onsted (16-4) to win the Lenawee County Athletic Association championship.
Southfield Christian (17-3) – The back-to-back-to-back Class D champion is up a class and continued to play a number of larger opponents, losing to North Farmington and Detroit Pershing during the season’s first two weeks. The Eagles came back to win the Michigan Independent Athletic Conference Blue with a pair of victories over rival Allen Park Inter-City Baptist (16-4).
Cedarville (20-0) – The Trojans haven’t slowed a bit since reaching last season’s Semifinals, cruising to another Eastern U.P. Athletic Conference championship while reaching 20 wins for the third straight season. Cedarville fit in a couple of downstate opponents in early January and beat Boyne City (15-5) last week, to go with domination of its local opponents including a 100-86 win in mid-February over Rudyard (15-5).
Hillman (19-1) – The Tigers just edged Lawrence as the only non-undefeated team on this list after winning the North Star League Big Dipper with a pair of wins over Mio (17-2). Hillman also put up a 10-point nonleague win early over Rudyard (15-5) and hasn’t lost since falling to Cedarville on opening night – after also losing to Cedarville in last season’s Regional Final.
Lake Linden-Hubbell (20-0) – The Lakes have climbed from three to 16 to 19 to 20 wins over the last four seasons. They won the Copper Country Conference title by two games over runner-up Republic-Michigamme (16-4). Lake Linden-Hubbell won all but one of its games by double digits.
Powers North Central (20-0) – The high-scoring Jets have shined again, putting up more than 90 points twice and more than 80 five more times. They dominated the Skyline Central Conference West with a pair of wins over Crystal Falls Forest Park (16-4) and earned another over SCC East champ Munising (18-1). North Central is 45-1 over the last two seasons, with the only loss to Cedarville in last year’s Quarterfinal.
Waterford Our Lady (20-0) – The Lakers also have made great strides, from 11 to 12 to 17 to 20 wins over the last four seasons. They won the Detroit Catholic League Intersectional #1 title by four games and added to an impressive run with wins over Southfield Bradford (14-6), Harbor Beach (15-4) and Burton St. Thomas More Academy (15-2).
PHOTO: Muskegon's Deyonta Davis (21) goes for a blocked shot during a January game against Saginaw Arthur Hill. (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.