Breslin Bound: Boys Quarterfinal Preview

March 21, 2016

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

The final week of the 2015-16 boys basketball season finds five undefeated teams among the 32 set to play Quarterfinals on Tuesday. 

And they're joined by a number of others playing in this final week for the first time, or at least the first time in a long time. 

See below for a glance at all 16 Quarterfinals and come back to Second Half all week for team-by-team previews of the semifinalists and coverage of all 12 games plus video highlights from the Breslin Center this weekend. 

All games Tuesday tip off at 7 p.m. unless noted. 

Class A

Ypsilanti Community (22-1) vs. Detroit U-D Jesuit (25-0) at University of Detroit Mercy (5 p.m.)

This might be the spotlight game statewide on this night with a pair of elite seniors facing off – recently-crowned Mr. Basketball Cassius Winston of U-D Jesuit and award finalist Corey Allen of Ypsilanti Community. Allen is averaging just above 23 points per game, while Winston leads the Cubs with 21.2 and 7.2 assists per game. 

Macomb Dakota (25-0) vs. Midland (17-6) at Grand Blanc

Both programs will take significant strides just by stepping on the floor. Dakota, long seen as a Class A contender this winter, will play in its first Quarterfinal, while surprise Midland will make its first appearance since 1979. Junior Jermaine Jackson paces the Cougars at 21 points per game, while senior Payton DeWildt scores 16.7 to lead the Chemics.

North Farmington (22-2) vs. Sterling Heights Stevenson (20-3) at University of Detroit Mercy

North Farmington also is making its first Quarterfinal appearance, also led by a standout guard, senior Billy Thomas at 21 points per game. Stevenson is back in the final week for the first time since 1983, led by a trio of seniors averaging between 11-13 ppg: Mylon Weathers, Vince Ramaci and Luke Lamoreaux.

Lansing Everett (15-10) vs. Hudsonville (19-5) at Lansing Eastern

This Quarterfinal pits two of the biggest upset producers of the Regional Finals – Lansing Everett, which downed undefeated East Lansing after falling to the Trojans twice during the regular season, and Hudsonville, which upended annual power Muskegon. Both are anchored by senior guards, the Eagles by 6-foot-5 Riley Costen (17 ppg) and the Vikings by 6-3 Jamyrin Jackson (16.8 ppg). 

Class B

Detroit Henry Ford (17-6) vs. New Haven (22-2) at St. Clair Shores Lake Shore

Last season’s Class B runner-up, Ford has won 12 of its last 14 games with senior guard James Towns leading the way at 23 points and 5.7 assists per game. New Haven lost to Ford 61-55 in a Quarterfinal a year ago but has a difficult trio to stop in 6-11 senior Innocent Nwoko (10.6 ppg, 10 rpg), 6-4 junior Eric Williams, Jr. (17.5 ppg), and 6-6 freshman Romeo Weems (15.5 ppg, 10.8 ppg, 4.6 apg).

Williamston (20-3) vs. River Rouge (22-3) at Charlotte

Williamston is playing with one of the state’s leading scorers in senior guard Riley Lewis (28.6 ppg) and some added inspiration after coach Jason Bauer left the team recently to undergo cancer treatments. River Rouge has one of the most storied programs in MHSAA history and is seeking to return to the Semifinals for the first time since 1999 and follow up the football team’s runner-up finish in the fall.

Essexville Garber (17-8) vs. Big Rapids (22-2) at Bay City Central

Garber has won Regional titles both seasons under second-year coach Chris Watz, who took over after two seasons as an assistant at Olivet College. Junior forward Demetri Martin (19.5 ppg, 8.8 rpg) leads a Big Rapids team that has won Regional titles three of the last four seasons.

Stevensville Lakeshore (18-7) vs. Hudsonville Unity Christian (16-8) at Vicksburg

Lakeshore is back in its first Quarterfinal since 2013 led by 6-11 senior center Braden Burke, who averages 15.9 points and 10.8 rebounds per game. Unity Christian is playing in its first Quarterfinal since 2008, also keyed by a post player, 6-4 senior forward Mitchel Takens (15.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg). 

Class C

Kalamazoo Hackett (24-0) vs. Grandville Calvin Christian (19-4) at Bangor

Hackett has rarely been tested with only two games in single digits on the way to its first Quarterfinal since 1969. Senior guard Dane Preston leads a solid group of scorers at 18.6 ppg. Calvin Christian is making its deepest run since 2010 and can top 20 wins for the fourth time in eight seasons if senior Tony DeWitte (18.2) and teammates can lock up one more.

McBain (25-0) vs. Ishpeming Westwood (12-12) at Petoskey

McBain has had a number of fantastic runs under 22-year coach Bruce Koopman, but none that’s seen the Ramblers undefeated this late. Craig Sterk, Cole Powell and Logan Eling all score between 14-15 points per game. Westwood’s surprise run has it playing its first Quarterfinal since 2003 while riding the hot hands of an all-senior lineup.

Flint Beecher (22-2) vs. Ithaca (23-2) at Troy Athens

Reigning Class C champion Flint Beecher is playing for its fourth championship in five seasons and riding a 16-game winning streak. Ithaca, meanwhile, is playing in its first Quarterfinal since 1956 – but won’t be intimidated led in part by three starters who played prominent roles on the Division 6 championship football team.  

Hanover-Horton (23-2) vs. Detroit Loyola (20-5) at Tecumseh

Hanover-Horton has won 15 straight District titles and returned to the Quarterfinals last season, advancing all the way to a Semifinal against Beecher. Loyola is known much more for football as a regular finalist at Ford Field, but will make its first Quarterfinal appearance in hoops after downing 18-win Detroit Allen Academy and Riverview Gabriel Richard and 21-win Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central along the way. 

Class D

Wyoming Tri-unity Christian (19-5) vs. Adrian Lenawee Christian (17-7) at Coldwater

Wyoming Tri-unity Christian has been a near-regular during the final week, but is seeking to advance to the Semifinals for the first time since 2013. Senior guard Willie Otole leads at 15.1 ppg. After finishing Class D runner-up in 2014, Lenawee Christian fell to .500 last winter, but is back in contention led by sophomore 3-point ace Trey Helinski (14 ppg).

Waterford Our Lady (20-4) vs. Marine City Cardinal Mooney (17-7) at West Bloomfield

Our Lady brings back three starters this week from the team that missed the Class D Final a year ago by a point – including senior guard Andrew Kline (18.5 ppg). Cardinal Mooney will make its second Quarterfinal appearance and first since 2010, led by sophomore guard Daniel Everhart at 17.2 ppg.

Fulton (18-6) vs. Bellaire (24-1) at Traverse City West, 6 p.m.

The Pirates will play in their second straight Quarterfinal and are led by senior guard Colton Antes, who is set the graduate as one of the top 3-point shooters in MHSAA history. Bellaire’s only loss this season was to eventual 20-win Class C East Jordan. The Eagles start four seniors and rely on three more off the bench.

Onaway (21-4) vs. Powers North Central (25-0) at Sault Ste. Marie

Onaway has put together an impressive rise, adding to its win total the last five seasons under coach Eddy Szymoniak after the team went 1-20 in 2011 in his debut. The Cardinals could add their biggest highlight yet by taking down reigning champion North Central, which hasn’t lost since 2015. 

PHOTO: Ypsilanti Community takes on Macomb Dakota in one of the state's most anticipated Quarterfinals on Tuesday. (Photo by Betsy Howell.)

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.