Breslin Bound: Boys Report Week 12
February 29, 2016
By Geoff Kimmerly
We’re only a week away from the start of the MHSAA Tournament, and it’s tough to not look a few days ahead to the matchups on the way – but we must to recognize a few more of the successes so far.
Most weeks during the season, we check in with four teams from each class that have been especially impressive. Here’s a look at 16 more that could ignite a run when Districts begin next week.
Clarkston (15-2) – After splitting with North Farmington, the Wolvers must defeat sixth-place Tory Athens on Tuesday to clinch a shared Oakland Activities Association Red championship. It would be at least the fifth straight league title for Clarkston, which made the Class A Quarterfinals last season and looks poised again with its only other loss to undefeated Macomb Dakota in December.
Grand Rapids Christian (17-1) – The Eagles clinched an outright Ottawa-Kent Conference White championship with a 52-40 win over second-place Lowell on Friday and have won 13 straight since falling to Hudsonville over holiday break. A matchup with reigning Class B champion Wyoming Godwin Heights on Tuesday is intriguing.
Grosse Pointe South (16-3) – The Blue Devils already are two wins better than last season and have clinched the Macomb Area Conference Blue championship with a game to play. They open District play next week against Detroit Martin Luther King, looking to avenge a 54-45 loss to the Crusaders on Jan. 18.
Muskegon (16-3) – The Big Reds have won nine straight and clinched the O-K Black title with two games to play in the league, adding a 72-71 win over second-place Zeeland East on Friday to finish a perfect run in the conference. They haven’t lost since falling to Detroit East English and Wayland (which are a combined 32-5) in back-to-back games in mid-January.
Allendale (16-2) – The Falcons have won 16 straight and finished an outright O-K Blue title run Friday with a 52-50 win over second-place Coopersville. Allendale was second in the league but only 12-8 overall a season ago.
Benton Harbor (14-4) – Despite an overtime loss Friday to Portage Northern, Benton Harbor has clinched the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference West championship after finishing second last season on the way to the Regional Finals. A matchup with SMAC East champion Kalamazoo Central (15-3) could be telling of a run to come.
River Rouge (15-3) – The Panthers are closing in on another nice finish following up last year’s league and District titles, with a defeat to Detroit Allen in mid-January the only one in the Michigan Metro Athletic Conference this winter. River Rouge fell to Romulus and Flint Beecher over a 10-day period earlier this month, but came back to beat Saginaw Arthur Hill by a basket and can close the regular season with six straight wins.
Williamston (16-3) – The Hornets have taken on and beaten most of the best in the Lansing area, with losses only to Lansing Catholic (17-1) in overtime, East Lansing (18-0) and DeWitt (15-3). They came back to beat co-leader Lansing Catholic by three in the rematch and beat Portland on Friday to secure a shared Capital Area Activities Conference White championship.
Adrian Madison (17-2) – The Trojans finished a perfect 14-0 in the Tri-County Conference to win the league title by three wins after finishing a win behind Morenci in 2014-15. The next big test comes Tuesday with Class B Hillsdale (16-2).
Ithaca (17-2) – After sharing the Tri-Valley Conference West title last season, Ithaca has won it outright with a game to play against seventh-place St. Charles. The Yellowjackets’ only losses were to Class B Alma and Frankenmuth, which are a combined 32-4.
Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central (17-1) – The Huron League title belongs to the Falcons again after three straight second-place finishes; they finished a perfect league run with a 64-59 win over Milan on Friday and have won 15 straight since falling in overtime to Adrian Lenawee Christian on Jan. 8.
St. Ignace (17-2) – It’s always easy to forget about the Saints because the school’s girls program is so strong. But St. Ignace’s boys are led by Gage Kreski, who set the Upper Peninsula scoring record with more than 2,000 career points Saturday, and they finished a perfect run through the Straits Area Conference.
Boyne Falls (17-2) – The Loggers finished off a pair of league opponents last week to earn a share of the Northern Lakes Conference championship with Alanson, which it lost to Jan. 5 but then beat Jan. 29. The title was at least the fifth straight for Boyne Falls.
Marshall Academy (18-2) – The Griffons closed the regular season with 10 straight wins and their only losses to Bellevue and Vestaburg. Those two losses and a five-point win over Camden-Frontier were the only games this season that didn’t result in double-digit wins for the Mid-South Conference champ.
Morenci (13-6) – Last season’s Class D runner-up went through a bit of a tough stretch during the first half of February, losing three of five games. But the Bulldogs have since won three straight and finished second to Adrian Madison in the TCC.
Waterford Our Lady (15-3) – Despite a loss to Class C Royal Oak Shrine in the Detroit Catholic League C-D Tournament Final, the Lakers did sweep Shine to win their division title and look good to make another run after reaching the Class D Semifinals last season.
PHOTO: Ithaca’s Jake Smith works to get around an Alma defender in their game earlier this season. (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.