Breslin Bound: Boys Report Week 11

February 19, 2013

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Only a few boys basketball teams remain this season that look unstoppable with the playoffs set to begin in two weeks. 

Those squads top this week's list of recent high achievers. But in a bit of irony, they are  followed by teams that over the last week knocked off highly-regarded opponents and made things look as wide open as ever. 

1. Detroit Pershing (19-0) – Considered Michigan’s best regardless of class all season, Pershing beat Cass Tech 80-61 to claim the Detroit Public School League championship.

2. Grand Blanc (16-0) – The Bobcats have improved from 12 to 14 to now 16 wins over the last three seasons and won the KLAA West championship by four games.

3. Climax-Scotts (17-0) – The Panthers aren't a surprise after making last season’s Class D Final before falling to Southfield Christian, but they look like the favorites to finish with a win this time.

4. Detroit Country Day (13-3) – The Yellow Jackets beat Class A power Saginaw Arthur Hill in a big way last week, 86-61.

5. Dowagiac (16-1) – The Chieftains last week earned their best win of a great run by beating Otsego, which had only one loss as well; expect them to meet again in the Wolverine Conference championship game.

6. Midland (13-4) – The Chemics have had a solid winter and are third  in the Saginaw Valley Association North, but they made a statewide wave by beating reigning Class A champion Saginaw 64-59 last week.

7. Rockford (12-6) – The Rams have had a couple tough runs this season after finishing Class A runner-up a year ago, but won a key rematch by beating East Kentwood 44-40 last week after losing by six to the Falcons at the end of January.

8. Southfield Christian (14-4) – The reigning Class D champion earned three wins last week including one of its best this season, 47-46 over also highly-regarded Allen Park Inter-City Baptist.

9. Redford Thurston (13-4) – The Eagles entered last week’s game against Dearborn Heights Robichaud 3-3 over their last six, but then avenged a 29-point loss by beating Robichaud 65-55 in their rematch.

10. Goodrich (13-4) – The Martians won their seventh game in eight tries by beating previously one-loss Frankenmuth 53-44 to cap off last week.

PHOTO: Detroit Pershing's Kahlil Felder (12) led his team to the Detroit Public School League championship and was named Mr. PSL for this season. (Photo courtesy of the Detroit PSL.)

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.