Breslin Bound: Boys Report Week 10
February 17, 2015
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Plenty can change – and change again – over the course of a four-month high school basketball season.
Below are this week’s highlighted teams in each class that have jumped out of late – including a number that started slowly this winter but are playing their best with the postseason less than a month away.
Birmingham Brother Rice (11-4) – The Warriors’ basketball program certainly is overshadowed by the football and perhaps hockey teams. But Rice went 3-1 over the second half of the Detroit Catholic League Central season and avenged an earlier 16-point loss to champion Detroit U-D Jesuit by handing the Cubs their only league loss this season, 58-53 last week.
Davison (12-3) – The Cardinals likely can’t catch leader Flint Northwestern in the Saginaw Valley Association South title chase, but can celebrate coming back strong off two straight sub-.500 seasons. Their only losses in 2014-15 are two to Northwestern and the third to Flint Southwestern Academy.
DeWitt (9-6) – An 0-4 start knocked down expectations a little for the reigning Capital Area Activities Conference Red champion. But the Panthers came back with a five-game winning streak and on Friday beat Haslett for the second time this winter to push into a first-place tie with the Vikings. All but one loss were by six or fewer points.
Grand Rapids Northview (13-3) – Last season’s runner-up in the Ottawa-Kent Conference Bronze is a win over reigning champion Forest Hills Northern on Friday from clinching a share of the league title. Northview is undefeated in league play and winner of nine of its last 10 games.
Benzonia Benzie Central (12-2) – The Huskies trail both Frankfort and Maple City Glen Lake by half a loss in the Northwest Conference standings, but play both during the final two weeks of the season. Until then, Benzie Central will try to build on a five-game winning streak and nine victories in their last 10 games.
Big Rapids (10-5) – The Cardinals trail Grant in the Central State Activities Association Gold and will need help if they’re to climb into first, but beat Grant 43-36 on Feb. 6 and added another league win Friday to stay within one of the lead.
Leslie (12-2) – The Blackhawks joined the Greater Lansing Activities Conference in the fall after a few seasons as an independent, and they’re in contention for the championship after beating first-place Lake Odessa Lakewood 43-41 on Friday. Lakewood, on Jan. 9, handed Leslie its last loss before this nine-win run.
Milan (14-2) – The reigning Class B champion is back in fine form, with its only losses this season to Class A teams that won league titles – U-D Jesuit and Romulus. The Big Reds are undefeated in the Huron League but face second-place Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central twice over their final four regular-season games.
AuGres-Sims (8-7) – Its overall record is just over .500, but AuGres-Sims is holding on to a slim lead in the Little Dipper division of the North Star Conference. The Wolverines have won three straight league games and have three to play, including a pair against opponents that are a combined 4-20.
Rochester Hills Lutheran Northwest (12-2) – The Crusaders hold a slim lead in the Michigan Independent Athletic Conference Blue thanks to a 66-52 win over Sterling Heights Parkway Christian on Thursday – after they lost to Parkway on Jan. 30. Lutheran Northwest finished 1-20 and last in the Blue a year ago.
Ironwood (15-2) – The Red Devils have followed last season’s run to the Regional Finals with another impressive performance; their only losses are to Wisconsin teams, and they edged Bessemer (see below) by a bucket on Friday to complete a season sweep.
Ishpeming (10-5) – The Hematites didn’t play their first game until Jan. 2 and are accustomed to late starts after three straight trips to the Football Finals at Ford Field. A loss to rival Negaunee on Friday broke a six-game winning streak that included a win over first-place Iron Mountain on Feb. 6.
Bessemer (12-5) – The Speedboys opened 2-3 and have absorbed a second loss this season from Ironwood. But they also have claimed a share of the Porcupine Mountain Conference title and can make it an outright championship March 5 against Ewen-Trout Creek – which beat Bessemer on Dec. 19.
Brethren (10-5) – The Bobcats are tied for fourth in the West Michigan D League, but their losses to first-place Onekama and second-place Baldwin over the last three weeks were both by only two points. Brethren gets Baldwin one more time, in its regular-season finale March 3.
Climax-Scotts (12-4) – Despite a seven-point loss to Battle Creek St. Philip near the end of January, Climax-Scotts remains in first place in the Southern Central Athletic Association West. The Panthers have won five of their last six and will equal last season’s win total with their next victory.
Hillman (16-1) – The Tigers will at least share the North Star League Big Dipper title and sit undefeated in the league standings, their only loss on opening night to still-undefeated Cedarville. Hillman hasn’t had a win by fewer than 10 points.
PHOTO: Grand Rapids Northview needs one more win to claim the O-K Bronze title, thanks in part of to a 75-50 win over Greenville on Friday. (Click for more from 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.