Breslin Bound: Boys Districts in Review

March 11, 2013

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Two weeks remain in the MHSAA boys basketball season. And after last week's District tournaments, some contenders have survived what may end up their scariest game of a championship run – while others remain alive that probably many didn't expect. 

Below are four District champs from each class who especially stuck out last week. 

Class A

Bloomfield Hills Lahser (17-6) – The Oakland Activities Association Blue co-champ claimed a District title as well with a 55-52 win over Orchard Lake St. Mary’s in last week’s championship game.

Detroit Pershing (23-0) – The Doughboys had beaten Detroit Cass Tech by 19 in the Detroit Public School League tournament final only three weeks before, but had to survive a 78-76 thriller in the rematch for the District title.

Saginaw (21-3) – The reigning Class A champion is still alive after winning perhaps the biggest game in the state Friday. The Trojans, who split with rival Saginaw Arthur Hill during the regular season, won the tie-breaker 86-76 in the District Final.

Ypsilanti (18-4) – Avenged a nine-point loss to Ann Arbor Pioneer from only a month ago by beating Pioneer 66-43 in the opener, and then eliminated Skyline and Huron en route to a sweep of the Phoenix’s Class A neighbors.

Class B

Bay City John Glenn (12-11) – The Bobcats lost twice to Standish-Sterling during the regular season, including by 18 on Feb. 22. But they avenged those losses in the District opener and then edged Essexville-Garber 51-50 in overtime to win the title.

Flint Powers Catholic (12-11) – A 3-8 start to this season wasn't pretty, and although Powers battled back it still entered last week with a sub-.500 record. But two and three-point wins over Flint Northwestern and Millington, respectively, kept the Chargers alive and put them on the plus side.

Saginaw Swan Valley (12-11) – The Vikings were 2-6 over the last eight games heading into the District tournament. But their 56-37 win over then 14-7 Bridgeport in the Final was at least a slight upset.

Sparta (17-5) – The Spartans finished a solid second in the O-K Blue this winter and then survived a 61-59 test against Fremont in last week’s championship game to move on.

Class C

Baldwin (18-4) – Came close twice to beating West Michigan D League champion Manistee Catholic Central, but fell once by three in overtime and in their second meeting by eight. That surely made a 38-35 District Final win over MCC that much better.

Harbor Beach (22-1) – Coming off the football MHSAA championship in the fall, the Pirates just keep cruising with only a loss to Marlette momentarily stopping them this winter. Harbor Beach outlasted Unionville-Sebewaing 61-60 in the District Final.

Montrose (18-5) – The Rams finished only third in the Genesee Area Conference Blue, but beat formerly 17-5 Reese 67-52 in the District championship game.

White Pigeon (14-8) – It’s amazing how much of a difference six weeks can make. White Pigeon lost to Cassopolis by 30 on Jan. 18, but won the rematch by 15 in the District opener and survived Decatur 44-41 in the championship game.

Class D

Bloomfield Hills Roeper (8-14) – Roeper closed the regular season with a 1-8 run, so it was tough to expect a District title. But the Roughriders prevailed by beating then 12-8 Waterford Our Lady 51-44 in the championship game.

Covert (16-6) – The Bulldogs are hardly strangers to Breslin Center, and like the teams that had success in the past this Covert team took its losses against much larger opponents this season. Back in Class D, it won three games by a total of 40 points last week.

Fowler (13-9) – The Eagles finished three wins behind Fulton for fourth place in the Central Michigan Athletic Conference. But after being swept by the Pirates during the regular season, Fowler won the most significant matchup of the three, 65-53 in the District Final.

Hillman (16-5) – The Tigers have improved from 12 to 13 to 16 wins over the last three seasons and won last week’s games by a combined 31 points. 

PHOTO: Detroit Pershing players celebrate last week's Class A District Final win over Detroit Cass Tech. (Photo courtesy of the Detroit Public School League.)

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.