Breslin Bound: Boys Report Week 9
February 11, 2020
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
If you’re a regular reader to our “Breslin Bound: Girls Report” as well, what follows will sound pretty familiar – but remains extremely important.
We’re winding down the boys basketball regular season, and we’re less than two weeks from seeding the top two teams in each District for the first time. But we need your help.
Teams earning the top spots will do so based on success and strength of schedule, and it’s imperative for MHSAA.com to list all games played and correct scores for each. Know a score we don’t or realize a game is missing that should be added? Send corrections or missing scores to [email protected]. Every result affects multiples of others, and we thank you for your help in advance.
“Breslin Bound” is powered by MI Student Aid and based on results and schedules posted for each school at MHSAA.com.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Benton Harbor 64, Grand Rapids Catholic Central 51 – Another Saturday showcase, another huge win for the Tigers, who followed up their previous Saturday victory over Ypsilanti Lincoln with this one against a possible postseason foe.
2. Frankenmuth 43, Bridgeport 38 – The Eagles avenged a 26-point defeat from Dec. 20 to hand the Bearcats their first of the season.
3. Grand Blanc 54, Muskegon 51 – The Bobcats dealt the Big Reds only their second loss this season and first to an in-state opponent.
4. Kalamazoo Central 66, Portage Central 44 – The Maroon Giants handed Central its first and only defeat this winter.
5. Beaverton 49, Sanford Meridian 45 – The Beavers moved into first place alone in the Jack Pine Conference by finishing a sweep of second-place Meridian.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
Grand Blanc (12-3) The Bobcats have clinched a share of the Saginaw Valley League Blue title and posted one of the most impressive runs in the state against a slate of opponents that has won just a tick under 70 percent of its games this winter – giving Grand Blanc the second-highest strength of schedule in Division 1. They started this week by finishing a sweep of Flint Carman-Ainsworth (10-5) to clinch that league title and also have wins over Muskegon (11-2), Kalamazoo Central (10-3), U-D Jesuit (9-6) and Detroit Douglass (14-3).
Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (13-1) The Eaglets have clinched the Detroit Catholic League Central title, and that’s just the start of the story. They also have handed the only losses to Clarkston and Hudsonville, and one of few to Grand Blanc with the only defeat against Division 3 contender Flint Beecher. The league title is St. Mary’s first in more than a decade and comes against a group that includes 2019 Division 1 runner-up Detroit U-D Jesuit among three nine-win teams that also were in the chase.
Benton Harbor (14-1) As noted above, Benton Harbor put up another big win at the Floyd Mayweather Classic on Saturday to go others over Ypsilanti Lincoln, Kalamazoo Central and Battle Creek Pennfield. Add in a loss to Beecher, and the Tigers’ strength of schedule ranks 10th in Division 2 – and they are one of only four teams in that top 10 with a winning record. And Benton Harbor isn’t done prepping for what should be another long tourney run, with River Rouge (15-1), Niles Brandywine (11-1) and Wyoming (12-1) rounding out the regular-season schedule.
Grand Rapids Christian (13-0) The Eagles are one of three undefeated teams left in Division 2. They handed Grand Rapids Catholic Central its first loss on Dec. 17 and also gave the only defeat to Wyoming. Grand Rapids Christian has survived its share of close games – two by two points apiece and two more by seven or fewer – but that’s pretty impressive too. They lead an Ottawa-Kent Conference Gold that also includes Wyoming (12-1) and East Grand Rapids (10-4).
Flint Beecher (13-1) The Bucs are unbeaten since falling to Division 2 Ferndale in their season opener, and they’ve loaded up the nonleague portion of their resume with wins over Benton Harbor, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (both mentioned above) and Flint Carman-Ainsworth, with a matchup with Grand Blanc coming up. For any other team, it would be impressive alone that Beecher leads a Genesee Area Conference with two other teams at 11-3. But the Bucs have won five MHSAA Finals titles over the last eight seasons and will be in the statewide mix again.
Niles Brandywine (11-1) The Bobcats took over the top spot this week in Division 3 MPR thanks in part to a schedule against opponents that have won nearly 63 percent of their games. Of course it helps a ton that Brandywine is 11-1 against those teams. The Bobcats lead the Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph Conference Red by a game despite losing their first meeting with second-place Parchment in overtime Jan. 24. They meet again Feb. 28, and a March 3 matchup with Benton Harbor will be a great test heading into the postseason.
Kingston (14-0) The Cardinals appear to be closing in on the North Central Thumb League Stars championship and haven’t had a game closer than 11 points since Jan. 10 against Dryden – which happens to be tonight’s opponent and lost by just a point in their first meeting. Kingston shared the league title and won its District last season and could be poised to achieve that and more carrying the top Division 4 MPR into this week.
Southfield Christian (11-3) The reigning Division 4 champion has wrapped up at least a share of a ninth-straight league title despite having three games left to play in the Michigan Independent Athletic Conference Blue. They’ll be seeking a third-straight Finals championship carrying into the postseason a win over Division 3 contender Detroit Edison and good playoff-preparation losses to Division 1 West Bloomfield, Southfield Arts & Technology and Detroit Catholic Central.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – Detroit Martin Luther King (13-3) vs. Detroit Douglass (14-3) at Cass Tech – This Detroit Public School League Tournament semifinal matches up the champion and runner-up, respectively, from the PSL East.
Tuesday – Detroit Communication Media Arts (12-3) at Detroit Cass Tech (15-1) – Similarly, the other PSL Tournament semifinal features the runner-up vs. the champ, respectively, in the West.
Tuesday – Detroit Edison (9-3) at Clarkston (12-1) – Both have championship aspirations, Edison as mentioned above in Division 3 and the Wolves in Division 1.
Thursday – Belleville (11-2) at Westland John Glenn (10-4) – Belleville holds a one-game lead in the Kensington Lakes Activities Association East thanks to a 58-50 win over John Glenn on Jan. 21.
Thursday – Escanaba (10-5) at Marquette (12-3) – This could decide the Greater Northern Conference championship outright, as the teams are tied for first with two league games to play and Marquette won the first meeting 63-56 on Jan. 7.
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: Marquette's Thomas Albarello drives to the basket while being defended by Ishpeming's Jacob Kugler during their game last month. (Photo by Cara Kamps.)
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.