Breslin Bound: Boys District Preview
March 6, 2017
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
In less than three weeks, 16 boys basketball teams will converge on Michigan State University’s Breslin Center to determine four MHSAA titles.
Today, more than 700 teams remain in the hunt.
Our final winter tournament begins tonight as boys hoops Districts tip off all over the state. Switching up the format a bit for our Breslin Bound reports – powered by MI Student Aid – we look below as usual at some of the most eye-catching results from last week, but also three Districts in each class shaping up as the most attention-grabbing heading into our first round.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. New Haven 108, Flint Beecher 104 (3 OT) – It would be hard to find a more exciting regular-season finale than this one between Class B and C favorites; Beecher’s Malik Ellison scored 63 points in trying to reverse the eventual outcome.
2. Grand Rapids Christian 72, Wyoming Godwin Heights 58 – As it’s often said, someone had to lose, and Christian moved on to eventually finish 20-0 while dealing Godwin Heights its only loss this season. The Eagles got their scare Thursday with an overtime two-point win over Kalamazoo Central.
3. Wayne Memorial 47, Walled Lake Central 44 – Wayne closed a nail-biting Kensington Lakes Activities Association Tournament run with this championship game win, its second in three playoff games by three points.
4. Dollar Bay 54, Painesdale-Jeffers 46 – With a loss to the second-place Jets, Dollar Bay still would’ve clinched the Copper Mountain Conference Copper Country title, reportedly its first championship since 1994, but this capped a perfect league run.
5. Morley Stanwood, 59, Big Rapids 56 – The champions of the Central State Activities Association Silver and Gold faced off, with the Silver title winner emerging victorious in this unofficial league final.
Districts at a Glance
These could be among our most competitive brackets. Host sites are in bold:
Grosse Pointe South
Detroit Cass Tech (16-4), Detroit East English (13-5), Detroit Martin Luther King (15-4), Detroit Western International (8-11), Grosse Pointe South (10-10), Hamtramck (13-5).
This could be a remix of the Detroit Public School League Tournament, where Cass Tech beat East English in the semifinal 73-71 and then King in the championship game 59-47. That came after Cass Tech split with Western during the league regular season – and King and East English split this winter as well.
Lansing Everett (at Don Johnson Fieldhouse)
DeWitt (11-9), East Lansing (20-0), Grand Ledge (7-13), Lansing Everett (12-8), Lansing Waverly (13-7).
East Lansing would look to be the strong favorite, and rightfully so especially coming out of the same league as Grand Ledge and Everett. But the Trojans also were undefeated heading into the postseason last winter and were upset in the Regional by Everett, which went on to make the Class A Semifinals.
Walled Lake Western
Milford (12-8), Walled Lake Central (14-6), Walled Lake Northern (14-6), Walled Lake Western (14-6), White Lake Lakeland (7-13).
Similar to above in the PSL, this could be a redo of the KLAA North race, won by Western by a game over co-runners-up Central and Northern, which both split with Western in league play. Central ended up winning the Lakes tournament championship with a five-point win over Western, which had beaten Northern by one in the semifinals.
Birch Run (7-13), Bridgeport (18-2), Carrollton (10-10), Frankenmuth (18-2), Saginaw Swan Valley (14-6).
The Tri-Valley East championship was split by the host Bearcats and Frankenmuth, with Bridgeport winning their first meeting by 10 and the Eagles winning the second also by 10. Frankenmuth lost only once more over its final 19 regular-season games – in fact, both TVC East champs also lost to Flint Hamady. Swan Valley and Carrollton were third and fourth, respectively, in the TVC Central, and the winner of their opener should provide a challenge.
Algonac (2-18), Armada (9-11), Marine City (3-15), Marysville (14-6), New Haven (19-1), Richmond (16-4), St. Clair (14-6).
New Haven won the Macomb Area Conference Blue title and lost this season only to 2016 Class A semifinalist Macomb Dakota, by six in December. Richmond also is formidable after finishing second in the Blue Water Area Conference but with two painful losses by a combined three points at the end of February that cost the Blue Devils the league title. Marysville was co-league champion in the MAC Silver and runner-up in the MAC Silver-Bronze Tournament.
Adrian (9-11), Brooklyn Columbia Central (10-10), Chelsea (13-7), Hillsdale (20-0), Onsted (15-5), Tecumseh (2-18).
Hillsdale won the Lenawee County Athletic Association with a sweep of Onsted, the first victory in double overtime and the second by only two points. The Wildcats were District champs a year ago. Chelsea finished only fourth in the Southeastern Conference White, but four of six teams in that league won at least 11 games during the regular season, and the Bulldogs are 9-4 since Jan. 7.
Bangor (0-20), Bloomingdale (14-6), Gobles (14-6), Hartford (9-11), Kalamazoo Christian (13-7), Kalamazoo Hackett (19-1).
Rivals Hackett and Christian would meet in a District Semifinal after Hackett swept the series with three and six-point (in overtime) wins on the way to a shared Southwestern Athletic Conference Valley title. Hackett reached the Quarterfinals a year ago. The host Cardinals won the SAC Central after going only 2-18 last season. And Gobles enters as the fourth-place finisher out of the strong SAC Lakeshore.
Burton Atherton (13-7), Burton Bendle (14-6), Burton Bentley (9-11), Flint Beecher (15-5), Flint Hamady (14-6), Montrose (11-9), New Lothrop (13-7).
Considering Flint Beecher has won back-to-back Class C championships and four of the last five, it’s easy to lean toward the Buccaneers heavy this week. But this District is stacked with successful teams – as noted above, Hamady handed Class B hopefuls Bridgeport and Frankenmuth losses and fell to Beecher by only four in their second meeting Feb. 3. All of Beecher’s defeats this season came against Class A or B opponents.
Concord (15-5), East Jackson (7-13), Hanover-Horton (17-3), Jackson Lumen Christi (3-17), Michigan Center (20-0), Napoleon (15-5), Vandercook Lake (12-8).
Hanover-Horton has won 15 straight District titles, the longest streak in Michigan, but will have plenty of challenges beginning tonight against Vandercook Lake. Michigan Center is perfect for the regular season reportedly for the first time – and beat Hanover-Horton by 19 and 13 this winter. Even then, Michigan Center would have to get through whichever wins between Napoleon and Concord just to reach the championship game.
Baraga (0-20), Chassell (11-9), Dollar Bay (16-4), Lake Linden-Hubbell (6-14), Ontonagon (12-8), Painesdale-Jeffers (16-4)
With two-time reigning Class D champ Powers North Central roaming a similarly-stacked District at Stephenson, this might be the most competitive in the Upper Peninsula this week. Dollar Bay and Painesdale-Jeffers would meet in a Semifinal – as noted above, Dollar Bay won the Copper Country title this season with victories of seven and eight over the Jets. The Bays did lose to Ontonagon at the start of January (and win the rematch in February), and play them first in an opener tonight.
Bear Lake (14-6), Brethren (11-9), Buckley (20-0), Fife Lake Forest Area (11-9), Mesick (1-18), Onekama (9-11).
Buckley, of course, would be considered the favorite and won a District title a year ago. But Bear Lake, Brethren and Forest Area all have winning records and are on the other side of the bracket, and will try to take advantage of any possible letdown. Bear Lake finished second in the West Michigan D League.
Byron Center Zion Christian
Byron Center Zion Christian (12-8), Holland Calvary (14-6), Wyoming Potter’s House Christian (13-6), Wyoming Tri-unity Christian (12-8)
The Alliance League title was shared by Calvary and Potter’s House, with Zion Christian a close third only a game back – but Tri-unity Christian plays in the league only for girls basketball, not boys. The Defenders own an 11-point win over Potter’s House from the start of the season and a 10-pointer over Calvary two weeks ago, and took most of its losses from schools in the other three classes. They made the Class D Semifinals in 2016.
PHOTO: A Flint Beecher player deflects a Corunna shot during their matchup earlier this season. (Click to see more from Varsity Monthly.)
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.