Breslin Bound: Boys Report Week 2
December 19, 2016
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Basketball season generally is broken down into three sections – and we’re in the midst of an exciting first as schools prepare for a break from class but not the action on the court.
The first month of the season features nonleague tilts between top teams from all over the state – see our “Week in Review” presented by MI Student Aid for some of last week’s best – and keep an eye out for more as we move into the final week of December before that second phase – the heating up of league competition.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Flint Beecher 59, Detroit U-D Jesuit 57 (OT) – Beecher, the reigning champion in Class C, has played arguably the toughest schedule in the state so far but came back from an early-week loss to reigning Class B champion Detroit Henry Ford by downing the reigning Class A champion Cubs during Super Saturday at Southfield.
2. East Lansing 59, Lansing Everett 53 – As noted in last week’s report, Everett handed the Trojans their first and only loss last season on the way to the Class A Semifinals; East Lansing and star Brandon Johns again are expected to be title contenders.
3. Wayland 77, Detroit Henry Ford 54 – The Wildcats, 17-3 a year ago, handed the reigning Class B champion its first loss during the Battle for I-96 showcase after Ford had downed Beecher just days before.
4. Freeland 54, Alma 48 – The undefeated Falcons trailed late before coming back to beat their Tri-Valley Conference Central rival; last season, Alma won the league with a sweep of second-place Freeland (which won 19 games) and then beat Freeland again during the Regional.
5. Detroit East English 79, Macomb Dakota 63 – Also Saturday at Southfield, East English added to an earlier win this season over Beecher by ending Dakota’s 41-game regular-season winning streak.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each class making sparks:
Kalamazoo Central (4-0) – The Maroon Giants are always in the championship mix, so this start is nothing new. But it’s included four double-digit wins including 67-55 over Battle Creek Central in the opener and 62-45 over Detroit Western.
Dearborn Heights Crestwood (4-0) – After finishing 10-12 and last in the Western Wayne Athletic Conference Blue last season, Crestwood has matched reigning co-champ Belleville with a 4-0 start. A big test comes Tuesday against the other 2015-16 co-champ, Romulus.
Bridgeport (4-0) – The Bearcats have finished third, sixth and fifth in the TVC East the last three seasons, respectively, but moved into prime position early with last week’s 69-59 win over reigning co-champion Frankenmuth. They’ll meet again Feb. 10.
Detroit Mumford (4-0) – The Mustangs won six and seven games, respectively, over the last two seasons, and are approaching those totals with four more games to go this month. They’ve pulled off a pair of close calls, by five over Gibraltar Carlson and four over Detroit Southeastern.
Iron River West Iron County (3-0) – After winning four games last season and two the season before that, West Iron is close to surpassing both by the end of the first week of January. The highlight so far probably was last Monday’s 61-43 win over Crystal Falls Forest Park, a 22-game winner last winter.
Marlette (4-0) – The Red Raiders are coming off back-to-back 15-7 finishes and after starting 2-2 a year ago. They could turn into a heavy favorite to claim the Greater Thumb Conference East title outright after sharing last winter; after two weeks, Marlette is the only team in the league with a winning overall record.
Baldwin (4-0) – After squeezing past Scottville Mason County Central by three in its opener, Baldwin has won its last three games by an average of 32 points. The Panthers won their District and fell in the Regional Semifinal last season.
Lansing Christian (4-0) – Since making the Class D Semifinals in 2013, the Pilgrims have fallen as low as five wins and built back with 10 two seasons ago and 14 last winter. They play in the Greater Lansing Activities Conference with all bigger schools, so they will see only a few opponents their size the rest of the way.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Monday – Powers North Central (3-0) at Menominee (0-1) – The Class B Maroons might be the last tall obstacle to stand in the reigning Class D champion's way as it pursues the MHSAA record for longest winning streak (see last week’s report); Menominee fell only 64-60 in the teams’ second meeting last season.
Tuesday – Detroit U-D Jesuit (2-1) at Macomb Dakota (3-1) – This is a rematch of last season’s Class A Semifinal, won by Jesuit 72-51, as the Cubs went on to win the MHSAA championship.
Tuesday – Ann Arbor Pioneer (3-2) at Ann Arbor Skyline (2-2) – Skyline lost to Pioneer three times and Ann Arbor Huron twice in finishing 13-8 last season; Skyline is coming off a 95-92 triple-overtime win over Huron and will now try to avenge against this local rival as well.
Tuesday – Traverse City St. Francis (2-2) at Frankfort (2-0) – Frankfort won the Northwest Conference title last winter, but one of its two regular-season losses came to St. Francis, 69-68, as the Gladiators went on to finish second in the Lake Michigan Conference.
Tuesday – Boyne City (2-0) at McBain (3-0) – This should help in some early sorting out of the top Class C teams in the northern Lower Peninsula; McBain made the MHSAA Semifinals last season and Boyne City made the Semifinals the season before.
PHOTO: A pair of Spring Lake defenders wall off a driving Grand Haven player during Friday’s 53-52 overtime win by the Buccaneers. (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.