Breslin Bound: Boys Report Post-Break
January 8, 2013
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Holiday break and all that comes with it – no school, but plenty of "classics" and "showcases" – has come to an end. But in its wake, we see a little better how some of the state's best stack up heading into league play that will dominate the next two months.
Here are 10 teams that made some of the biggest waves over the last few weeks. Records and scores are based on those submitted to the MHSAA.com Score Center.
1. Saginaw Arthur Hill (7-0) – This is shaping up as the Lumberjacks’ season among powers in the Saginaw Valley Association. Its best win of break definitely came Friday, 75-54 over rival and reigning Class A champion Saginaw High.
2. East Kentwood (6-0) – The Falcons’ run at the Muskegon Hall of Fame Classic was the most impressive among those that played in a holiday event. East Kentwood beat two teams considered elite – Grand Rapids Christian 52-48 and then Muskegon 85-77.
3. Ann Arbor Pioneer (5-2) – The Pioneers have played a nicely-loaded schedule and opened with losses to Detroit Country Day and Holt. But a 62-60 win over Detroit Southeastern highlights a 5-0 run since that also has included two more victories by four points or fewer.
4. Wayland (7-1) – The Wildcats’ turnaround this winter has been a speedy one. They won only six games all of 2011-12 – but have fallen this season only to Wyoming Godwin Heights and by just a point, 72-71.
5. Harbor Beach (6-1) – The bounce-back after winning the Division 8 football title might’ve been too quick for the Pirates, who fell on opening night. But they haven’t lost since, and handed previously-perfect Reese a 58-44 defeat on Thursday.
6. Detroit U-D Jesuit (5-1) – The Cubs appear to be a contender in the Detroit Catholic League Central after beating Warren DeLaSalle 73-62 on Friday. Jesuit’s only loss was by three to Cleveland St. Ignatius earlier last week.
7. Ypsilanti (4-1) – After opening this season with a one-point loss to Wyandotte Roosevelt, the Phoenix have been tough. Best wins were by two in overtime over a solid Saline team and by seven over emerging Detroit Denby.
8. Decatur (7-0) – The Raiders ended last season losing four of their final five games. But they've rebounded nicely, and handed Eau Claire its first loss, 57-54.
9. Hemlock (5-1) – The Huskies look to be back in the hunt in the Tri-Valley Conference Central despite an early loss to Shepherd. Friday’s 49-44 win over Saginaw Nouvel avenged one of their few during last season’s 19-5 run.
10. Sparta (5-2) – The Spartans are riding a four-game winning streak that included one-point wins over Grand Rapids Creston and Muskegon Oakridge. The latter is Oakridge’s lone loss this winter.
PHOTO: Saginaw Arthur Hill's Jalen Adams (14) finishes a powerful slam in his team's win over rival Saginaw High on Friday. (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.