Breslin Bound: Boys Report Post-Break
January 3, 2017
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
This week, Michigan’s high school boys basketball teams will begin focusing most of their energies on winning league championships and doing their best against competition closest to home.
But before we dive in to that always-intense chapter of each season, our Breslin Bound report – powered by MI Student Aid – reviews the best from two weeks of holiday break, including matchups of some expected MHSAA title contenders in Class A and B.
Week in Review
The countdown of holiday break's five most intriguing results:
1. Detroit U-D Jesuit 69, Macomb Dakota 61 – Dakota was missing a standout and lost another near the end of this one, but regardless this rematch of last season’s Class A Semifinal finished with the Cubs on top while sandwiched between their overtime losses to Flint Beecher and Indianapolis Lawrence North (Ind.).
2. North Farmington 53, Detroit Henry Ford 49 – The Raiders bounced back from three losses to open this season, including a 65-58 defeat to Farmington, to beat Dearborn Divine Child and then the Class B reigning champ at the Motor City Roundball Classic.
3. McBain 73, Boyne City 62 – In a matchup of expected Class C contenders from the northern Lower Peninsula, McBain emerged with a fourth double-digit win in four tries this winter while handing Boyne City its first loss.
4. Wyoming Godwin Heights 69, Wayland 67 – They are in different Districts this season after meeting in the first round a year ago, and both could emerge as Class B contenders after meeting in this Cornerstone Invitational title game.
5. Frankfort 72, Traverse City St. Francis 65 – The Panthers avenged one of only two regular-season losses from last season, when they fell to St. Francis 69-68.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each class making sparks:
Detroit East English (5-0) – The Bulldogs may have graduated a Mr. Basketball finalist off last season’s 17-win team, but they likely have another and could finish even better this winter with wins so far over Flint Beecher, Macomb Dakota and most recently Wayne Memorial 92-77.
Battle Creek Central (5-1) – That lone loss came early to Kalamazoo Central, and Battle Creek Central has stormed back with the latest a sweep at its holiday tournament, 60-50 over Otsego and 61-46 over Muskegon Heights Academy.
St. Clair (5-0) – The Saints, winners of 12 and 14 games, respectively, over the last two seasons, downed St. Clair Shores Lakeview 54-53 in overtime and then host Clinton Township Chippewa Valley 58-57 at the latter’s holiday tournament to finish off 2016.
Wyoming Lee (5-0) – A 3-17 finisher just last season, Lee is in the midst of a sizable turnaround highlighted over the break by wins over Gobles (in overtime) and host Allegan to win the Tigers’ holiday tournament.
Harbor Springs (3-0) – After also going only 3-17 a year ago, Harbor Springs has equaled that win total while handing the only losses this season to Bellaire (40-37) and Pickford (67-65).
Michigan Center (6-0) – The Cardinals will embark next on at least matching last season’s shared title in the Cascades Conference, and will do so after dominating Williamston’s holiday event with wins over Dansville (66-47) and Class A DeWitt (86-75).
Bark River-Harris (4-0) – Eventually, the Broncos will get to test themselves against Powers North Central (Jan. 27) in the Skyline Central Conference West. So far, they look good to top last season’s 10-11 finish.
Frankfort (3-0) – Expectations are high as always coming off a second straight Northwest Conference title and fourth straight season with 20 or more wins – and so far so good; see note above on avenging last season’s loss to Traverse City St. Francis.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – Clarkston (5-0) at Flint Carman-Ainsworth (6-0) – The Wolves have earned a reputation as Class A contender with another strong start, and Carman-Ainsworth could cement that status as well with a win.
Tuesday – Maple City Glen Lake (3-0) at Elk Rapids (5-0) – In addition to both being undefeated this week, Glen Lake beat Elk Rapids twice last season including in the District.
Friday – Beaverton (4-1) at Clare (3-1) – Although both have a loss, both also are undefeated in early Jack Pine Conference play; Beaverton’s only defeat was in its last game, to Class A Midland Dow by two.
Friday – Detroit U-D Jesuit (4-2) at Romulus (2-1) – Another week, another impressive foe lined up for reigning Class A champion Jesuit; Romulus’ lone loss was by six to Clarkston.
Friday – Holt (3-2) at Okemos (3-1) – This longtime rivalry means something again, as both are seeking to rise in a Capital Area Activities Conference Blue that also features East Lansing, Lansing Everett and Jackson.
PHOTO: Muskegon pushes the ball upcourt during a 68-45 win over East Kentwood during the Muskegon Hall of Fame Classic on Dec. 28 at Reeths-Puffer High School. (Photo by Tim Reilly.)
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.