Breslin Bound: Boys Report Week 12
February 27, 2017
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
For a good portion of Michigan’s best, the final week of this high school boys basketball regular season will be like starting the playoffs a week early.
Only a few league championships are left to be decided. But a number of top teams face off for one more test before the season goes into win-and-advance mode with the start of Districts a week from today.
Below is our final regular-season Breslin Bound report – powered by MI Student Aid – before we switch up the format a bit to preview each week of the MHSAA Tournament.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Flint Carman-Ainsworth 99, Saginaw 60 – After beating Saginaw by seven earlier this season, Carman-Ainsworth posted one of its most impressive wins in some time in a crossover of Saginaw Valley League champs, Saginaw from the North and the Cavaliers from the South.
2. Romulus 73, Kalamazoo Central 63 – These Class A powers love to traverse the state looking for strong nonleague competition, and this one actually bodes well for both heading into Districts, although obviously a little better for the Eagles.
3. Wayne Memorial 55, Westland John Glenn 48 – Wayne split with its Kensington Lakes Activities Association South rival in winning the division, and got the tie-breaker with this victory to determine the Kensington champion and earn a spot in the overall KLAA finale.
4. Walled Lake Central 50, Walled Lake Western 45 – Central may have finished a game behind Western in the KLAA North, but beat its rival in their second meeting and followed up with this victory in the KLAA Lakes final.
5. Powers North Central 83, Munising 33 – We’ve seen plenty of impressive wins by the Class D Jets during this record run, but this one is notable too as Class C Munising entered 15-2.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each class making sparks:
Detroit U-D Jesuit (15-3) – After escaping Orchard Lake St. Mary’s with a 51-49 win in the semifinal, U-D Jesuit won its fifth straight Detroit Catholic League A-B title with a 63-56 title game win over Warren DeLaSalle. The reigning Class A champion's losses came either in overtime or by a point this winter.
Macomb Dakota (17-3) – The Cougars, Class A semifinalists last season, battled through multiple injuries to top players to finish the regular season as champions of the Macomb Area Conference Red and MAC Red-White Tournament. The Cougars hit 100 points in that tourney finale and have topped 95 two other times during a 14-game winning streak.
Big Rapids (17-1) – A big loss to Ludington on Feb. 7 not withstanding, Big Rapids has dominated again after making the Class B Semifinals last season. Only two of the Cardinals’ wins have come by single digits, and last week they finished an undefeated run through the Central State Activities Association Gold for the second straight season.
Macomb Lutheran North (15-3) – The Mustangs beat 16-win Riverview Gabriel Richard 70-62 on Sunday to win the Detroit Catholic League C-D title. They’ve made a nice jump from 11 wins two seasons ago to 13 last winter and now 15 with a week until the MHSAA Tournament begins.
Flint Hamady (13-6) – Hamady’s boys normally slot behind rival Beecher among Flint’s best – and finished tied for second to the Bucs in the Genesee Area Conference Red. But the Hawks fell to Beecher by only four in their second meeting earlier this month, and made a statement with a 71-66 win over Class B and 16-win Frankenmuth last week.
Grandville Calvin Christian (14-4) – After coming a 3-pointer from winning the Class C title last season, Calvin Christian is running third in the Ottawa-Kent Conference Silver behind Class B favorite Wyoming Godwin Heights and rising Kelloggsville. The Squires appear poised to strike again in the postseason with 10 wins over their last 12 games.
Pittsford (16-3) – The school’s reigning Class D champion girls don’t have a monopoly on the town’s hoops success. Coming off a 16-6 finish and second place in the Southern Central Athletic Association East last winter, Pittsford’s boys equaled that win total last week while also clinching the league title.
Wyoming Tri-unity Christian (11-7) – It’s just about impossible to go a whole season without checking in on the Defenders, who made the MHSAA Semifinals last season and are a threat to contend even when their regular-season losses approach double digits. Lansing Christian is the only Class D team to beat them this winter.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – Grand Rapids Christian (18-0) at Wyoming Godwin Heights (19-0) – Grand Rapids’ two best teams, arguably, and contenders in Class A and B, respectively, give each other a great test during the final week.
Tuesday – New Haven (18-1) at Flint Beecher (15-4) – These two both have championship aspirations as well, New Haven in Class B and Beecher in Class C.
Tuesday – Southfield Christian (15-3) at River Rouge (17-1) – Rouge loaded up the schedule as it prepped for a Class B run, and Class D favorite Southfield Christian will provide another strong challenge.
Thursday – Wayne Memorial (16-3) at Walled Lake Central (14-5) – The KLAA championship game pairs a Wayne team that went 8-14 last year with a Central team that finished second in its division before this run.
Thursday – Holland West Ottawa (18-1) at Grand Rapids Catholic Central (16-3) – The O-K Blue champion hosts the winner of the Red as they prepare for the Class B and A tournaments, respectively.
PHOTO: Grand Rapids Christian (in blue) and Holland West Ottawa both finish with tough regular-season challenges this week; Christian best West Ottawa 57-49 on Dec. 28. (Photo by Tim Reilly.)
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.