Breslin Bound: Boys Report Week 7

January 27, 2014

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Well, the weather outside is frightful … but inside the gym it’s warm as ever, especially for teams able to avoid the freeze outs that have made scheduling and re-scheduling an adventure this month.

This week’s list includes a number of teams from northern Michigan, where they are used to braving the cold – and some from downstate that probably feel they are doing it more than usual lately. 

1. Bellaire (9-0, Class D) – The Eagles are among three contenders atop the Ski Valley Conference, and a win over Mancelona this week would give Bellaire at least a one-game edge on the other two.

2. Grand Ledge (7-2, Class A) – After winning four games two seasons ago and eight in 2012-13, the Comets lead the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue thanks to a six-point win over favorite Holt on Friday. 

3. Detroit Osborn (9-3, Class A) – The Knights opened this season 1-3 but haven’t lost since mid-December and are 5-0 in the Detroit PSL East Division 2.

4. Crystal Falls Forest Park (9-0, Class D) – The Trojans edged third-place Carney-Nadeau by four points to keep pace with Powers North Central atop the Skyline Conference. 

5. Hillman (10-1, Class D) – The Tigers have won three straight by at least 24 points, including a nonleague victory over Posen, the other North Star League team without a loss this winter (they meet in league play Feb. 27).

6. Ironwood (11-1, Class C) – The Red Devils’ lone loss this season was to a team from Wisconsin; 10 of 11 wins have come by double digits. 

7. Fulton-Middleton (7-1, Class D) – The Pirates opened up the Central Michigan Athletic Conference race by edging leader and favorite Pewamo-Westphalia by three to move into a tie for the top spot.

8. Suttons Bay (7-1, Class D) – The Norsemen haven’t lost since opening night and lead the Northwest Conference with second-place Benzie Central coming up next week.

9. Belleville (7-3, Class A) – The Tigers must play catch-up behind Western Wayne Blue leader Romulus, but notched a nice overtime win over Southeastern Conference White leader Ypsilanti Lincoln on Thursday. 

10. Lansing Eastern (6-5, Class A) – The Quakers bounced back from a four-game losing streak to beat CAAC Blue contenders Okemos and Lansing Sexton last week.

PHOTO: Detroit Osborn, here against Detroit Collegiate Prep, leads its division of the Detroit Public School League. (Photo courtesy of the Detroit PSL).

Little Provides Major Stride as 1st Woman to Officiate Boys Hoops Final since 1995

By Keith Dunlap
Special for

April 13, 2023

Delonda Little was already a trailblazer to many before this year’s MHSAA Boys Basketball Finals.

Greater DetroitBut 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 monitors the action between Flint Beecher and Traverse City St. Francis.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 DunlapKeith 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.