Breslin Bound: Boys Report Week 12
March 2, 2020
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
We’re a week from the start of the MHSAA Boys Basketball Tournament, but the playoff atmosphere has taken over these last few weeks of the regular season as well.
Today’s report looks at a number of teams that wrapped up championships over the last seven days and others that have the opportunity to do the same over the next seven before our three-week trip to Breslin Center begins.
“Breslin Bound” is powered by MI Student Aid and based on results and schedules posted for each school at MHSAA.com. Send corrections or missing scores to [email protected].
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Grand Blanc 74, Mount Pleasant 60 – The Bobcats (16-3) added to their Saginaw Valley League Blue title by handing SVL Red champion Mount Pleasant (17-1) its only loss.
2. Orchard Lake St. Mary's 61, Detroit U-D Jesuit 54 – The Eaglets (18-1) added the Bishop Tournament title to their Detroit Catholic League Central championship, which they also earned just ahead of runner-up Jesuit (12-7).
3. Canton 58, Belleville 56 – The West co-runner-up Chiefs (13-6) earned a rematch with champ Howell for the Kensington Lakes Activities Association overall championship by downing the KLAA East-winning Tigers (15-4).
4. Traverse City Central 35, Traverse City West 32 – The Trojans (16-3) earned themselves an opportunity to claim a share of the Big North Conference title by finishing a sweep of West (7-11) that saw both games decided by a combined five points.
5. Lansing Everett 63, East Lansing 60 – The Vikings (11-9) are guaranteed to finish third in the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue, but affected the league title big-time last week by following a 15-point loss to Okemos with this upset of the formerly co-leading Trojans (16-2) that gave the Chiefs the championship outright.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
Detroit Cass Tech (17-1) Mr. Basketball Award finalist Tyson Acuff has led the Technicians to within a basket of a perfect season so far. Cass Tech defeated Detroit Douglass 66-41 on Feb. 14 to add the Detroit Public School League Tournament title to its PSL West championship, and it’s only slip-up was a one-point loss to Flint Carman-Ainsworth on Dec. 30. Wins over Macomb Dakota (17-3), Saginaw (10-8), Canton (13-6), Mumford (11-8) and East Kentwood (11-8) also are among the most notable.
Flint Carman-Ainsworth (15-5) As noted just above, Carman-Ainsworth handed Cass Tech its lone loss –an accomplishment in itself. But the Cavaliers also gave Goodrich (18-1) its only defeat while picking up a pair of wins over Saginaw and Davison (10-9) and one apiece against Arthur Hill (11-9), Grand Rapids Union (12-7) and Flushing (12-8). Carman-Ainsworth finished behind Grand Blanc in the SVL Blue, and the other three teams it lost to have only one loss apiece – Clarkston, Mount Pleasant and Flint Beecher.
Hudsonville Unity Christian (15-4) The reigning Division 2 champion has had just a few close slip-ups along the way this winter and always bounced back, and clinched the Ottawa-Kent Conference Green title outright by avenging one of those Friday against Byron Center. Those four losses – to Hudsonville, Grand Rapids South Christian, Byron Center and Zeeland East – were by a combined 13 points, and the South Christian defeat came in overtime. The Crusaders do have a two-point win over Holland West Ottawa (13-6) and also defeated first-round District opponent Allendale (13-6) by 16 in December.
Williamston (17-2) A 57-50 loss to Lansing Eastern two weeks ago turned the CAAC Red championship into a shared celebration between the Quakers and Hornets. But it’s been otherwise another strong run as Williamston is up to No. 6 in Division 2 MPR and pushing for what would be a fifth-straight 20-win season. The Hornets’ only other loss came in the opener to East Lansing (16-2), and they beat Eastern (13-5) by 17 in the teams’ first meeting and downed Lansing Catholic (15-4) by 14 also in December. Total, the Hornets have won outright or shared league titles eight straight seasons.
Pewamo-Westphalia (16-1) The reigning Division 3 champion quietly has won 15 straight since suffering its lone loss 61-59 to Laingsburg on Dec. 19. P-W defeated Laingsburg 54-36 in the Feb. 7 rematch and leads the Wolfpack in the Central Michigan Athletic Conference standings by half a game. The Pirates additionally have nice nonleague wins over Clare (14-5), Dearborn Advanced Tech (14-5), Carson City-Crystal (10-8) and Wyoming Tri-unity Christian (12-6) as they prepare for another possible postseason run.
Unionville-Sebewaing (16-2) Despite seeing their 31-game league winning streak snapped by Reese in December, the Patriots bounced back to share the Greater Thumb Conference West title with the Rockets. The only other defeat came to Division 2 contender Bridgeport (18-1), although the Patriots will tune up with another tough Division 2 opponent Tuesday at Clio (14-5). USA also has 20-plus point wins over GTC East co-leaders Harbor Beach and Sandusky, and over the 16 wins only Bad Axe has gotten within single digits of the Patriots. USA won their first meeting by one, but Friday’s rematch by 12.
Camden-Frontier (16-3) The Redskins trail Hillsdale Academy by a game in the Southern Central Athletic Association East with two to play. But they rank No. 6 in Division 4 MPR, one spot ahead of Hillsdale Academy, thanks in part to splits with the Colts (17-2) and Reading (15-4) and a win over Battle Creek St. Philip (13-6). The only other loss came to Bellevue (16-2). One more win will give Camden-Frontier 17 for the third season in a row, and 18 would be a program high over at least the last decade.
Webberville (14-4) The Spartans are tied for second with Division 3 Burton Bendle (16-3) behind Flint Beecher (18-1) in the Genesee Area Conference – impressive, especially considering Webberville won the second game against Bendle 72-59 on Jan. 28. Webberville last week handed Division 2 Ovid-Elsie (18-1) its lone loss, further justifying it as a team to watch over the next few weeks against opponents its size. The Spartans won 16 games both of the last two seasons and also won their District in 2019, so they could be set to take another step.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – Portage Central (16-2) at Stevensville Lakeshore (15-4) – Both sit 8-1 in Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference West play, with this game's winner claiming the title outright. Portage Central won the first round 41-35.
Tuesday – Grand Blanc (16-3) at Flint Beecher (18-1) – The Flint area has thrived this season with Carman-Ainsworth and Southwestern also providing big boosts, but this has been the most highly-anticipated matchup between the best in and around the city.
Tuesday – Ypsilanti Lincoln (16-2) vs. Ann Arbor Huron (18-1) at Eastern Michigan University – The champions of the Southeastern Conference White and Red, respectively, meet in a potential District Final preview.
Thursday – Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (18-1) vs. Detroit Cass Tech (17-1) – As mentioned in discussing both above, this brings together the best of the Catholic League and PSL for the annual Operation Friendship.
Thursday – Benton Harbor (16-2) at Wyoming (18-1) – Both championship hopefuls will enjoy one last test heading into the postseason, Benton Harbor a contender in Division 2 and Wyoming in Division 1.
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PHOTO: Williamston, here during its first meeting with Haslett, finished a season sweep of the Vikings last week on the way to claiming a share of a league title. (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.