Breslin Bound: Boys Report Week 7
January 27, 2020
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Michigan’s high school boys basketball teams are this week reaching the regular-season’s midpoint and the heart of league play from the Ohio and Indiana borders to the top tip of the Upper Peninsula.
You’ll see that move toward emphasizing conference play reflected in much of this week’s Breslin Bound report – although it’s tough to not be most excited about another showcase coming up this weekend that will match up championship contenders from two of the MHSAA’s four divisions.
“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. Flint Beecher 70, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 61 – The Bucs moved up to No. 2 in Division 3 MPR with a major win over the No. 2 team in Division 2 at the Horatio Williams Freedom Classic.
2. Clarkston 55, Detroit King 41 – The Wolves also made Freedom Classic headlines with arguably their best of a solid set of wins this winter.
3. Gaylord St. Mary 59, Pellston 54 – The Snowbirds pushed back into the Ski Valley Conference mix by handing the first loss this season to Pellston.
4. Grand Blanc 80, Kalamazoo Central 73 – The Bobcats are now 9-3 against one of the toughest schedules in the state, and followed up this Friday win with another seven-point over Ferndale on Saturday.
5. Traverse City West 47, Cadillac 46 – The Titans are only 5-6 overall but could make a move in the Big North Conference after handing co-leader Cadillac its first loss this season.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
Hamtramck (9-2) The Cosmos have flown a bit under the radar, but sit second in the Michigan Metro Athletic Conference Blue with an opportunity to make a loud statement. Hamtramck fell to league leader River Rouge 54-49 on Jan. 10, but a win in the rematch Tuesday arguably would be one of the program’s best in some time. The Cosmos’ only other defeat this season came to Warren De La Salle Collegiate, 65-62 in overtime Dec. 20.
Mount Pleasant (10-0) Reigning Saginaw Valley League Red champion Mount Pleasant is off to another fantastic start after winning its first 18 games last season. A 66-58 win over SVL Blue co-leader Flint Carman-Ainsworth a week ago was particularly impressive, even as the only single-digit victory surrounded by much larger margins in the Oilers’ other nine games.
Croswell-Lexington (10-1) A three point December loss to 9-1 Flint Southwestern is all that has kept Croswell-Lexington from perfection this winter – and only a few others have come close to breaking up the success. The Pioneers have nine double-digit wins and Friday against Almont can finish an unbeaten first half in the Blue Water Area Conference.
Fremont (10-0) The Packers’ 102 points last week against Howard City Tri County likely caught even casual fans’ attentions. But it was just a highlight from a greater body of work that is setting Fremont up for a run at a third straight Central State Activities Association Gold title. The Packers are perfect through the first run of the league schedule, thanks in part to a three-point win over Newaygo and four-pointer over Grant. Fremont also downed Lakes 8 Activities Conference co-leader Ludington.
Hanover-Horton (7-1) The Comets face Napoleon on Wednesday for first place in the Cascades Conference as they continue to pursue a third-straight league championship. All seven wins so far have been by 10 points or more, and the one defeat looks pretty good too – 68-66 to Division 1 one-loss Grand Rapids Union. A Feb. 10 matchup with Ypsilanti Arbor Prep could be telling of the team’s possibilities come tournament time.
Ravenna (10-0) The Bulldogs have climbed from six to 11 to 15 wins, respectively, over the last three seasons, and seem likely to continue the rise after a flawless first half. Ravenna leads the West Michigan Conference by a game over Muskegon Oakridge, which gave the Bulldogs their closest game so far – a six-point battle Jan. 16.
Alanson (8-1) Alanson improved from five wins in 2017-18 to 10 last season and could equal that latter total before the end of January. The Vikings are undefeated since falling to Bellaire 61-54 in their season opener, and they’ve hung tough in tight times with three wins by three points or fewer. That success has sent Alanson into a tie for first place in the Northern Lakes Conference with Ellsworth, which hosts the Vikings on Friday.
Hillsdale Academy (8-1) After playing in the 2018 Class D Semifinals but falling back to 9-13 last season, the Colts rank No. 5 in Division 4 MPR and sit tied for first in the Southern Central Athletic Association East despite losing Dec. 19 to co-leader Camden-Frontier. Hillsdale Academy will get another chance at C-F on Feb. 11 and also can boast a win over SCAA West co-leader Bellevue.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – Hudsonville (9-0) at Holland West Ottawa (8-2) – The reigning Ottawa-Kent Conference Red champion Eagles will try to hold off second-place West Ottawa in the first of their two meetings.
Tuesday – Iron Mountain (9-0) at Negaunee (10-0) – The Mountaineers took three wins from the Miners last season, outpacing them to win the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference Iron and then eliminating Negaunee in a Regional Semifinal.
Friday – Oscoda (9-0) at Mio (8-1) – The two top teams in the North Star League Big Dipper again, Mio is just behind reigning champion Oscoda after the Owls won the first matchup Dec. 12.
Friday – Stevensville Lakeshore (9-0) at Portage Central (8-0) – This matchup for first place winds up the first half of the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference West schedule.
Saturday – Ypsilanti Lincoln (7-1) vs. Benton Harbor (9-1) at Grand Rapids City – The headlining matchup of the Redhawk Showcase Classic might be one of the most entertaining regular-season games of this entire season.
Second Half’s weekly “Breslin Bound” reports are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Office of Postsecondary Financial Planning located within the Michigan Department of Treasury. MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 college savings programs (MET/MESP), as well as scholarship and grant programs that help make college Accessible, Affordable and Attainable for you. Connect with MI Student Aid at www.michigan.gov/mistudentaid and find more information on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.
PHOTO: Alma improved to 7-3 last week with wins over Shepherd and Frankenmuth. (Click to see 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.