Breslin Bound: Boys District Review
March 16, 2015
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
District week turned into rematch week during some of the most intriguing tournaments of the first round of this season's MHSAA Boys Basketball Tournament.
See below for four champions in each class that stuck out, including a number that did so by beating one last time an opponent it had seen a few more over the course of this winter.
Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills (20-3) – The Bengals added a District title to their Ottawa-Kent Conference Gold championship. Ottawa Hills won 59-56 in the Final over East Kentwood (21-1), the only team to beat reigning Class A champion Muskegon this season, and opened in the Semifinal with a 54-51 edging of Grand Rapids Christian (12-10).
Lansing Everett (21-2) – The Vikings advanced to Regionals for the first time since 2005 after ending the runs of some familiar opponents. Everett beat Capital Area Activities Conference Blue rival and runner-up Grand Ledge (20-3) in the Final, 57-51 – the teams split during the regular season as Everett won the league title. The Vikings beat Blue third-place finisher East Lansing (12-9) in the Semifinal, 59-39, and CAAC Red champion DeWitt (11-10) in the opener 50-43.
Traverse City West (18-5) – The Titans, runners-up in the Big North Conference, eliminated two league champions. They opened with a 58-54 win over Marquette (16-4), the Great Northern U.P. Conference winner, then beat rival Traverse City Central (5-16) in the Semifinal before eliminating Big North champion Alpena (19-3) in the Final, 66-63.
Walled Lake Central (18-5) – The Vikings tied Walled Lake Western (21-2) for the Kensington Lakes Activities Association North title, but moved on to this week by edging Western 40-39 in the District Final. Central set up that opportunity by beating West Bloomfield (18-3) in the Semifinal, 54-52, and Walled Lake Northern (8-13) in the opener.
Benton Harbor (17-6) – The Tigers again emerged from this strong group of Class B teams in the Lower Peninsula’s southwest corner. They opened with a 74-55 win over Coloma (7-14), then downed Wolverine Conference West champion Dowagiac (15-5) in the Semifinal, 78-74. Benton Harbor then defeated Buchanan (13-9) in the Final, 53-42.
Eaton Rapids (15-8) – The home of the reigning Class B girls champion can cheer on a boys run this time after the Greyhounds beat Jackson Northwest (13-8), Leslie (16-5) and then Olivet (11-11) to win their District title. Eaton Rapids won the last two games both by double digits.
Frankenmuth (18-4) – Remember the name Mario Whitley; the Eagles’ 6-foot-3 freshman guard had 28 points and 10 rebounds in a District Semifinal 63-52 win over Flint Northwestern (16-4). Frankenmuth’s veterans took over in a 48-44 victory over Caro (10-13) in the Final.
Yale (21-2) – The Bulldogs split the Blue Water Area Conference championship with Imlay City (19-4) and Richmond (16-5), and lost to the former twice during the regular season. But Yale beat Imlay City 59-43 in the District Final after downing Richmond 45-41 in the Semifinal and Armada (3-18) in the opener, 37-36.
Boyne City (18-5) – The Ramblers edged East Jordan by a game to win the Lake Michigan Conference title despite falling to East Jordan during the opening week in December. Boyne City put an end to their series this season with a 48-45 win over the Red Devils (17-6) in the District Final, after defeating Harbor Springs (2-19) in the Semifinal and Charlevoix (12-9) in the opener.
Hanover-Horton (21-1) – The Comets’ lone loss this season came to Jackson Lumen Christi, by 14, on Dec. 20. But Hanover-Horton got the win when it counted more, downing the Titans (19-3) in the Semifinal 63-61 before clinching the championship 54-47 over Vandercook Lake (17-6), which also finished runner-up to Hanover-Horton in the Cascades Conference race.
Hillsdale (22-0) – There generally aren’t a lot of 20-win teams facing against each other during the tournament’s first week, but Hillsdale emerged from such a matchup, 78-60 over Quincy (21-2) in their District Final. Hillsdale also beat Union City (17-5) in the Semifinal, 77-53.
North Muskegon (16-7) – The Norsemen have more than doubled last season’s seven wins, and moved on to Regionals with a 67-63 District Final win over annual power Muskegon Heights (13-6). North Muskegon also edged Western Michigan Christian (14-7) in the Semifinal, 54-52, and beat Ravenna (4-16) in the opener.
Boyne Falls (20-2) – The Loggers have followed up losing to Bellaire in the 2013 District by beating the Eagles in the last two Finals – this time 48-41. Boyne Falls also won the Northern Lakes Conference championship, while Bellaire was the champ in the Ski Valley Conference. The Loggers advanced last week by beating league foe Ellsworth (11-10) by 15 in their Semifinal.
Covert (8-4) – The Bulldogs played an abbreviated regular-season schedule but didn’t look a step behind last week beating Lawrence (21-2) in the District Final, 60-59. Covert also beat St. Joseph Lake Michigan Catholic (12-10) in the Semifinal and Michigan Lutheran (4-16) in the opener.
Frankfort (20-2) – The Northwest Conference-winning Panthers also had to take on another 20-win team last week, and bested West Michigan D League winner Onekama (20-2) in the District Final, 64-25. Frankfort advanced with a 71-53 win over Buckley in the Semifinal (11-11).
Kalamazoo Heritage Christian (10-12) – After winning only three games in 2013-14 and finishing this winter sub-.500 for the regular season, Heritage Christian was one of last week’s stunners beating Climax-Scotts (17-5) in the Semifinal 54-51 and then Martin (11-11) in the District Final, 45-39 in overtime.
PHOTO: Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central advanced to this week's Regionals with a win over Grand Rapids Northview in their District Final. (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.