Breslin Bound: Boys Report Week 12
March 2, 2015
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Coaches often talk about getting hot at the right time – in other words, playing their best basketball on the eve of when it counts most.
This is that time – and the teams below are among those carrying some nice momentum into the final week of the regular season with the start of the MHSAA Tournament approaching.
Auburn Hills Avondale (15-3) – The Yellow Jackets have won nine straight since falling to Oakland Activities Association Blue co-leader West Bloomfield on Jan. 23, beating the Lakers by one Feb. 17 and then Oxford by one Friday to keep pace atop the standings.
Clinton Township Chippewa Valley (17-3) – The Big Reds closed the regular season with five straight wins to finish second in the Macomb Area Conference Red and finish five wins better than a year ago with the postseason still to play.
Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills (17-3) – The Bengals clinched the Ottawa-Kent Conference Gold title over four others with at least 10 wins this winter. Two of the losses were to teams a combined 35-4 – Lansing Everett and Goodrich.
Stevensville Lakeshore (17-2) – The Lancers own a one-win lead in the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference West with one game to play and after going an uncharacteristic 10-12 a season ago. Lakeshore split this winter with second-place Benton Harbor, last season’s Class B runner-up.
Big Rapids (14-5) – The Cardinals weathered a three-game losing streak in mid-January to hold on for a share of the Central State Activities Association Gold championship, and will win it outright if second-place Newaygo falls in its league finale. Big Rapids’ most recent four losses were by a combined nine points.
Frankenmuth (14-4) – The Eagles avenged an early three-point loss to rival Millington by beating the Cardinals 51-35 on Friday to pull into first place in the Tri-Valley Conference East – and they can clinch the title outright against eighth-place Otisville-LakeVille on Thursday. Four TVC East teams have won at least 14 games.
Lakeview (15-4) – Despite a loss to second-place Kent City on Feb. 20, Lakeview came back to clinch the CSAA Silver championship with a 72-57 win over Hesperia on Friday. The Wildcats also won the CSAA last season before the league split into divisions for 2014-15.
Williamston (16-4) – The Hornets closed the regular season with a 65-58 win over rival Lansing Catholic, creating a shared Capital Area Activities Conference White championship between the two after Lansing Catholic had won the first meeting Jan. 23. Williamston has won seven straight.
Carney-Nadeau (12-6) – The Wolves can’t catch Class D contender Powers North Central in the Skyline Central Conference West, but they did win five straight before falling to Crystal Falls Forest Park in overtime Friday. Forest Park also is Class D; Carney-Nadeau opted to play up in Class C this season.
Hanover-Horton (18-1) – Only one-loss Jackson Lumen Christi, in December, has been able to edge Hanover-Horton, which clinched the Cascades Conference title with a 61-54 win over third-place Michigan Center last week. The Comets also won the league in 2013-14.
Ithaca (17-2) – The Yellowjackets have been chasing Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary in the TVC West since falling to MLS on Jan 16, but regained a share of first place with a 52-49 win in their rematch Friday. Ithaca has won 11 straight and finishes with winless Merrill.
Southfield Christian (15-3) – The three-time reigning Class D champions are in Class C this season and having similar success during the regular season; the Eagles clinched the Michigan Independent Athletic Conference Blue title last week, and among the few missteps are impressive losses by one to Detroit Pershing and two to Ann Arbor Pioneer.
Allen Park Inter-City Baptist (16-3) – Staying in the MIAC Blue, Inter-City Baptist’s only league losses were to Southfield Christian – and the only other defeat came to Class A Allen Park on the first Friday of the season. The Chargers have 10 wins against opponents from other classes.
Baldwin (14-4) – The Panthers have won nine straight and can clinch a share of the West Michigan D League title with two more this week; they trail Onekama by a win, but Onekama has only one league game remaining. Baldwin also beat Class B Paw Paw (12-7) during the current streak.
Bellevue (14-5) – The Broncos have a slim chance at sharing the Southern Central Athletic Association West title, but can eclipse last season’s win total with one more this week and have earned at least 14 victories for the third straight season despite opening 6-4.
Jackson Christian (12-6) – The Royals are among those who dealt Bellevue an early loss, and they long ago clinched the SCAA Central title. Jackson Christian finishes this week against Battle Creek St. Philip and then opens with the Tigers in next week’s District.
PHOTO: Ithaca's 60-51 win over Freeland on Jan. 30 was part of a current 11-game winning streak. (Click to see more at 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.