Breslin Bound: Boys District Preview

March 7, 2016

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

A total of 11 boys basketball teams head into the MHSAA Tournament today with perfect records.

But there are plenty of others expected to make strong pushes toward a trip to East Lansing in a little more than two weeks.

Below is a look at four teams from each class that look good to be in the hunt. Follow all of the scores and brackets in real time at, and click for a glance at every team with three or fewer losses heading into the postseason.

Class A

Canton (20-0) – The Chiefs have improved from 15 to 16 to now 20 wins over the last three seasons, and after repeating as Kensington Lakes Activities Association South champions went on to win the league’s overall title with an overtime victory over Walled Lake Western. Canton also put up an incredible 35-point win in early January over Grosse Pointe South, which finished 17-3.

Detroit U-D Jesuit (20-0) – The Cubs might be the favorites after making the Class A Semifinals last season and losing to eventual champion Detroit Western International. Led by Mr. Basketball finalist guard Cassius Winston, U-D Jesuit has beaten an impressive slate including Class C contenders Flint Beecher and Detroit Allen Academy and last week Detroit East English by 16 points.

East Lansing (19-0) – A young Trojans team will have to be careful in a District featuring tough familiar opponents. But led by sophomore Brandon Johns, arguably the best in his class in the state, East Lansing hasn’t had a ton of trouble yet, with only five wins by fewer than 10 points (although that includes two in overtime).

Macomb Dakota (20-0) – The Cougars did go 21-3 before falling in the Regional Final last season, but haven’t been considered this strong of a contender arguably ever. They avenged that postseason loss on Dec. 15 by downing Clarkston by 11, and nonleague wins against Lansing Everett and Saginaw Arthur Hill also provided valuable experience against unfamiliar but solid opponents.

Class B

Lansing Catholic (18-1) – A game against East Lansing last week that would have been telling was canceled because of bad weather, but the Cougars have shown a great combination of post strength and perimeter play while facing most of the rest of the Lansing area’s best. The loss came to rival Williamston by three after Lansing Catholic won the first meeting in overtime by three.

New Haven (18-2) – Unlike last season, New Haven enters the tournament with losses – its first during 2014-15 didn't come until the Quarterfinal. But those defeats this time have come against Class A schools Utica Ford and contender East English (16-4), and the Rockets built their record against a Class A-heavy schedule.

Onsted (19-0) – Mr. Basketball candidate and sizable center Austin Davis gets most of the attention, and with great reason. But he’s also got plenty of help, especially in a veteran backcourt, and it’s paid off in a league with three teams that have won at least 14 games; Hillsdale’s only losses were twice to the Wildcats.

Wyoming Godwin Heights (17-3) – The reigning Class B champion has two more losses heading into the tournament this season than a year ago. But the three defeats came to Class A teams that have won 15, 14 and 19 games, respectively. Tonight’s opponent, Wayland (17-2) provides another tough challenge out of the gate.  

Class C

Detroit Allen Academy (18-2) – Allen has taken a big jump from 11-11 last year playing a schedule that hardly resembles the typical for a Class C team. The Wildcats’ best wins were arguably against Class B River Rouge (17-3) by 11, Class A Saginaw Arthur Hill (14-5) by 20 and Class A Detroit Renaissance (16-4) by four.

Flint Beecher (17-2) – The Class C champion three of the last four seasons prepares by facing a number of larger power programs, and this winter was no different; Beecher beat East English by three but also played and lost to reigning Class A champion Detroit Western International and likely Class A favorite Detroit U-D Jesuit.

Kalamazoo Hackett (20-0) – Hackett earns the mention among four undefeated Class C teams because it saw the toughest competition; four of six other teams in the Southwestern Athletic Conference Valley won at least 10 games, and Kalamazoo Christian’s only losses were twice to the Fighting Irish. All of that said, only Christian once and Schoolcraft twice got within 10 points of Hackett this winter.

Southfield Christian (18-2) – The Eagles are regulars in later rounds of the tournament and fell to Beecher in a Regional Semifinal last season. They’ve again prepped for a long run by facing bigger opponents, with a win over Class A Belleville (16-4) and Southfield and that only loss by a point in overtime in December to Class A West Bloomfield.

Class D

Bellaire (19-1) – Aside from a loss to Class C East Jordan in December, Bellaire has dominated winning a Ski Valley Conference featuring five teams with at least 10 wins including Class C Johannesburg-Lewiston (18-2) and Class D Onaway (16-4). The Eagles won their four games against those two opponents all by double figures.

Frankfort (18-2) – The Panthers have made it to at least the Quarterfinals the last three seasons and the Semifinals in 2014, and there’s little reason not to anticipate a similar run. The losses this winter were in overtime to undefeated Class C contender McBain and also-Class C Traverse City St. Francis, and Frankfort has beaten its share of larger schools too.

Hillman (20-0) – The Tigers have made the Regional Finals three straight seasons and played in a Quarterfinal last year, losing to eventual champion Powers North Central. They opened this winter with a 17-point win against Cedarville and have allowed only one opponent to come closer than 11.

Powers North Central (20-0) – The Jets have won 47 straight games and 72 of their last 73 with junior Jason Whitens again leading a group that includes more teammates from their MHSAA 8-player football champion. North Central handed Crystal Falls Forest Park its only two losses and beat Class B Menominee (16-4); no other opponents came close.

PHOTO: Macomb Dakota defenders surround a Saginaw Arthur Hill player working to get to the hoop during a game earlier this season. (Click to see more at

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.