Breslin Bound: Boys Regional Preview
March 14, 2016
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
The MHSAA Boys Basketball Tournament finished up its first week Friday with many of the expected contenders moving on – but quite a few surprises as well.
See below for four teams from each class that jumped out from Districts, with Regionals tipping off tonight. Click for brackets for all 32 and stay with Score Center tonight for scores and updated matchups.
Belleville (19-4) – The Tigers have won eight games straight and improved seven wins from a year ago, and had an eventful District week. In the Semifinal, Belleville beat Romulus, the team with which it shared the Western Wayne Athletic Conference Blue title, and then downed Westland John Glenn in overtime in the Final.
Detroit Western International (17-3) – The reigning Class A champion has had a solid season, finishing second in the Detroit Public School League West Division 1. But the biggest highlights came last week with a 77-76 overtime win over PSL Tournament champion Detroit East English, followed by a 15-point District Final win over 14-win Martin Luther King.
Lowell (18-5) – Since winning three games in 2010-11, the Red Arrows have improved their win total every season of the last five and are four victories better than a season ago. Lowell added a couple top teams from the east side of the state to the schedule this winter and lost locally only to Grand Rapids Christian twice and Wyoming Godwin Heights.
Roseville (17-5) – The Panthers improved to five wins better than a season ago, adding a District title to a runner-up finish in the Macomb Area Conference White. They've won 10 of their last 12 games.
Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard (12-11) – The Fighting Irish entered the tournament two games below .500 but emerged on the plus side thanks in part to a 43-41 upset of Chelsea in the District Final. Chelsea finished 16-6.
Detroit Osborn (13-10) – The Knights again proved the tough competition in the Public School League is a good primer for the postseason, winning their second straight District title despite finishing fifth in the PSL East Division 1 standings and going 2-7 in January.
Flint Northwestern (12-11) – The Wildcats finished only fifth in the Saginaw Valley League South but have won five straight and avenged last season’s District loss, downing Frankenmuth 57-52 in this year’s Final. Frankenmuth finished 20-3.
Stockbridge (17-5) – The Panthers split with Leslie during the regular season but still finished a game behind the Blackhawks and second in the final Greater Lansing Activities Conference standings. But Stockbridge beat Leslie (20-3) in the District Final.
Beaverton (19-1) – Bad weather kept Beaverton from getting in its full 20 regular-season games, but the Beavers did manage to extend their Jack Pine Conference winning streak to 34 with a second straight league title. They beat two league foes to win the District as well.
Constantine (14-9) – The Falcons dropped their final two regular-season games and finished only fourth in the Southwestern Athletic Conference Valley. But they beat third-place Schoolcraft on the way to a second-straight District title and after losing to the Eagles only four days before.
Grandville Calvin Christian (17-4) – The Squires took a couple of late losses prepping for the postseason with a final run that included reigning Class C runner-up NorthPointe Christian, reigning Class B champion Godwin Heights, plus 17-win Allendale and 15-win Covenant Christian. But those challenges paid off as Calvin Christian downed Covenant Christian 64-50 to start last week and then NorthPointe 52-45 in the District Final.
Ishpeming Westwood (10-12) – The final two weeks of the regular season included four losses over its final five games, but Westwood was a different team once the District began. The Patriots started with a win over Manistique – which they had lost to Feb. 17 – and finished with a 51-47 win over rival Ishpeming after falling to the 16-win Hematites twice in league play.
AuGres-Sims (11-9) – The Wolverines were another team that entered the postseason on a bit of a stumble, having lost four of six after locking down second place in the North Star League Little Dipper division. But they beat champion Fairview by 12 to open last week and then Mio 62-59 in the Final.
Fulton (16-6) – A five-point loss to Class C Lakeview in the regular-season finale is the only blemish for the Pirates over their last eight games. They clinched the District title with a 55-42 win over league rival and 13-win Fowler.
Novi Franklin Road Christian (16-6) – Annual contender Southfield Christian is the team most pay attention to from the Michigan Independent Athletic Conference, either division. But Blue runner-up Franklin Road Christian has won eight of nine to continue a seven-win improvement from a season ago.
Rock Mid-Peninsula (13-9) – The Wolverines won only three games each of the last two seasons, but added a District title to this winter of improvement to go with the Skyline Central Conference East championship.
PHOTO: Ithaca repeated as a District champion last week, downing Sanford Meridian in a Class C 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.