Breslin Bound: Boys Report Week 11
February 22, 2016
By Geoff Kimmerly
This week’s list of Michigan boys basketball teams to watch next month includes quite a few that have taken next steps toward elite this season, plus a few looking to hold on to top spots.
Most weeks during the season, we check in with four teams from each class that have been especially impressive. After a bit of a hiatus, we’re back for the rest of the winter starting with this look at 16 more.
Detroit East English (15-3) – The Bulldogs won a nail-biter over Detroit Collegiate Prep to advance to the Detroit Public School League tournament final, then won their first PSL tournament championship with an 86-62 victory over Renaissance.
North Farmington (15-2) – The Raiders have been surging since last losing Jan. 14 to Clarkston; they’ve won eight straight, including beating Clarkston 58-53 on Feb. 12, and are tied with Clarkston for first in the Oakland Activities Association Red standings with two league games to play.
Petoskey (15-1) – The Northmen are a perfect 10-0 in Big North Conference play and have lost only to Cheboygan, by a point Jan. 5. Petoskey must beat Gaylord tonight and then finish a season sweep against second-place Traverse City Central on Friday in order to clinch the league title outright.
Ypsilanti Community (15-1) – The Grizzlies are Class A contenders and have their destiny in their control; they can clinch the Southeastern Conference White title outright by winning out.
Birch Run (15-2) – Save for a two-game losing streak over six days in early January, Birch Run has been on point and sits second in the Tri-Valley Conference East. The Panthers take on league leader Frankenmuth on Wednesday with a chance to take a share of first place.
South Haven (14-2) – The Rams have clinched the outright Wolverine Conference North championship after tying for second in the South a year ago. A one-point loss last week to Edwardsburg was the team’s first since opening night.
Wayland (15-1) – The Wildcats earned a share of the Ottawa-Kent Conference Gold title with an 81-41 win over Hastings on Friday and have won 12 straight since their only loss, 63-56 to Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central on Dec. 29. Wayland finished second in the league last season.
Wyoming Godwin Heights (15-2) – The Wolverines earned a share of the O-K Silver title by beating Hopkins 77-42 on Friday, coming off a surprise three-point loss to Portage Northern three nights before. The reigning Class B champion hadn’t fallen since opening night, but Northern is solid in Class A at 11-5.
Kalamazoo Hackett (16-0) – The Fighting Irish have won the Southwestern Athletic Conference Valley title and need only one more win to equal last season’s team that finished 17-7. They haven’t had an opponent come within single digits since Schoolcraft – their next opponent – did so Feb. 1.
Muskegon Heights Academy (13-2) – The Tigers’ only losses were to Class A teams – Rockford last week and Battle Creek Central in December. They’ve equaled the 13 games won all of last season and with four more to play before the tournament begins.
Niles Brandywine (13-5) – The Bobcats came back from a three-game losing streak Feb. 5-12 to win twice on back-to-back nights last week and hold a half-win lead on Bridgman in the Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph Conference Red with a league game to play.
Southfield Christian (16-1) – The Eagles have won 14 straight since falling to West Bloomfield by a point in overtime Dec. 12, and they can finish a perfect run in the Michigan Independent Athletic Conference Blue by beating fourth-place Ann Arbor Greenhills this week. They own wins over Belleville by a point and Southfield by three.
Bellaire (15-1) – The Eagles have won 12 straight since falling to East Jordan on Dec. 18 and can clinch a share of the Ski Valley Conference championship against fourth-place Indian River Inland Lakes tonight after handing second-place Johannesburg-Lewiston a loss on Friday.
Frankfort (15-1) – The Panthers finished their first back-to-back league titles since 1961-62 by beating Buckley on Friday to clinch the Northwest Conference championship; they lost only to Traverse City St. Francis, by a point Dec. 17.
Onekama (15-2) – The Portagers clinched the West Michigan D League title outright with a win over Custer Mason County Eastern on Friday after tying annual league power Baldwin for the title last season; Onekama has a two-game lead on Baldwin this time.
Wyoming Potter’s House Christian (14-3) – The Pumas’ 80-50 win over two-loss Kalamazoo Heritage Christian last week earned them the Alliance League South title; their losses this winter were by a combined six points, and they beat Pewamo-Westphalia 55-53 on Friday to extend their winning streak to 11.
PHOTO: Rivals Saginaw and Saginaw Arthur Hill are among many teams prepping for tournament runs with Districts set to begin in two weeks. (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.