Breslin Bound: Boys Report Week 1

December 15, 2014

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

A handful of the 16 teams we've glanced at during this week's first Breslin Bound report of the 2014-15 boys season got off the slow starts a year ago. 

They aren't making that mistake again. 

Each week, we’ll look at four teams from each class that stuck out over the previous seven days or the season to that point as we point toward the start of the MHSAA District tournaments March 9.

For schedules of each day’s games statewide and results as we receive them, plus links to each team’s full schedule, results and league standings, click here – and please help us by filling in missing scores or emailing them to [email protected].

Class A

Ann Arbor Skyline (2-0) – The Eagles came back from a 1-3 start last season to make the Class A Quarterfinals, and that’s carried into this winter as they opened by beating Salem 62-56 and then reigning Class D runner-up Adrian Lenawee Christian 57-49.

Canton (2-0) – The Chiefs were solid last season with 15 wins, but a win over Detroit Country Day (54-49 on Friday) generally is a sign a team is capable of bigger things.

Detroit Western International (2-0) – The Cowboys never recovered from a 1-6 start last season in finishing 4-14, but got a jump on this winter opening with a 64-36 win over Chicago Marshall at the Derrick Coleman Classic and following with a 69-57 victory over Saginaw Arthur Hill at the Horatio Williams Classic.

North Farmington (2-0) – The Raiders also got off to a big start in 2013-14 with seven straight wins, and are on the way again after two big wins last week – by 41 over Detroit Collegiate Prep and then 28 over reigning Class D champion Southfield Christian.

Class B

Battle Creek Pennfield (2-0) – The Panthers also were among those who started slowly at 1-3 a year ago; last week’s successful run included a 14-point win over rival Olivet.

Escanaba (2-0) – They Eskymos have improved from five to eight to 17 wins over the last three seasons, respectively, and a 52-50 opening-night win over last season Class C semifinalist Negaunee could be a sign of another jump to come this winter.

Freeland (2-0) – The Falcons’ .500 season a year ago started with a 31-point loss to Carrollton on opening night; a year later, Freeland opened with a 63-47 win over the Cavaliers and a 48-pointer over Pinconning.  

Southfield Bradford (3-0) – The Bulldogs won 19 games last season, and opened their return to Class B this winter with three wins including 57-44 over annual power Detroit Douglass, a Class B semifinalist in 2013-14.

Class C

Blissfield (2-1) – The Royals’ positive start not only provided a serious dent toward surpassing last season’s seven wins, but included a 61-48 victory over Ottawa Lake Whiteford, which beat Blissfield by 22 on opening night of 2013-14.

East Jackson (2-0) – The Trojans went from 17 wins in 2012-13 to two a year ago, but have at least equaled that latter total thanks to a one-point victory over Brooklyn Columbia Central and a seven-pointer against Whitmore Lake.

Houghton Lake (1-0) – The Bobcats didn’t win last season until January and only four times total, so they’re surely happy to get off on a winning foot with two more Jack Pine Conference opponents on the schedule before the new year.

Vassar (2-0) – The Vulcans opened last season with a pair of losses but finished a solid 13-8; they avenged one of those defeats by beating a strong Marlette team 55-53 on Wednesday.

Class D

Marcellus Howardsville Christian (2-1) – The Eagles have had a nice run over the last few seasons and appear off on another, coming back after an opening night loss to Centreville to win the St. Joseph Michigan Lutheran Tip-Off with a 55-10 win over Watervliet Grace Christian and a 71-40 victory over the tournament host.

Mendon (2-0) – The Tigers celebrated their return to Class D last week with a 58-53 win over 2013-14 quarterfinalist Battle Creek St. Philip and then a Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph Conference East-opening win over White Pigeon.

Rudyard (2-0) – The Bulldogs doubled their wins from 2012-13 to 2013-14; they may not be able to do that this winter coming off 13 victories, but got off to a quick start with 59 and 28-point wins last week.

Wyoming Potter’s House Christian (1-1) – Sure, Potter’s House did lose its second game last week, in overtime to annual Class D power Tri-unity Christian (which Potter’s House beat in a District Semifinal last season). But more impressively, the Pumas opened with a 47-46 win over reigning Class C runner-up Pewamo-Westphalia.

PHOTO: River Rouge edged Detroit Cass Tech at the Horatio Williams Classic in one of the top matchups of the first weekend of boys basketball season. (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.