Broken Wrist Doesn't Break Season

March 29, 2018

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Never has a basketball player looked forward this much to shooting an airball.

That’s what Carson Vincent is expecting two months from now, when he gets to fire with his right hand again, just like he has most of his life – until breaking a bone in his right wrist during a 7 on 7 football drill at the end of last summer.

It’s incredible how much would’ve been lost if the Ovid-Elsie senior hadn’t been unknowingly tough and uncommonly flexible.

Vincent played a full season of football not knowing how badly he’d injured his wrist. Once he learned of the break in late November, he decided to play on – learning to shoot with his left hand and finishing his career as the Marauders’ second-leading score all-time while leading them to their best season in 25 years.

And the 6-foot-5 forward saw a clear parallel in the shared team and individual successes.

“It’s the same answer for both,” Vincent said. “Individually I wasn’t doing it for me; I was doing it for the team. I knew they wanted me out there, my family wanted me to be out there, and I wanted to be part of everything.

“The reason the team did well is we all wanted each other to be successful, to win a championship, to see each other happy.”

Ovid-Elsie finished 18-5 this winter, first in the Tri-Valley Conference West and as a Class B District champion. The league title was the program’s first since 1984, and the District its first since 1994.

Individually, Vincent began the winter coming off an all-state season as a junior, when he averaged 17.7 points and eight rebounds per game and set a school record for field goal percentage at 60.8.

With only 20 percent mobility in his dominant right hand, he was forced to become ambidextrous. “Amazingly” – to agree with coach Josh Latz’ description – Vincent upped his scoring to 20.4 points per game, grabbed 7.7 rebounds and added 2.1 assists, a block and a steal per game – and broke his school record by making 62 percent of his shots from the floor.

Vincent learned to shoot free throws left handed and became a better ball handler as well. Despite being able to throw up only an occasional floater right-handed, he became the third 1,000-point scorer in school history and finished with 1,026 points, 441 rebounds, 86 blocks, 74 assists and 60 steals over a three-year varsity career.

“Carson's toughness and resiliency this season was incredible. To be able to accomplish the things he did individually, with the hand he was dealt is remarkable,” Latz said.

“His biggest growth was as a teammate with his unselfishness to put teammates and team success ahead of his health and well-being. That being said, the successes we had as a team were in direct correlation with Carson's leadership and the example of physical and mental toughness he set for us.”

Vincent knew exactly when he was injured. He caught a touchdown pass  running backward during that 7 on 7 about a week before the start of practice at the end of summer, and he fell – catching himself by falling directly on the wrist.

Despite some pain, he started football practice and did all the drills. A receiver and cornerback, he noticed when he dropped some passes he’d otherwise pull in – but he still helped the football team to a 7-3 playoff season.

On the day of the basketball team’s preseason scrimmage, he had the wrist checked out by a doctor who helps out with the Marauders. Diagnosis: broken and shifted bones. But Vincent already had made it through football season and decided to put off surgery until he could no longer manage the pain. He played in the scrimmage that day, although he couldn’t bend the wrist. He tried taping for a while, but gave up on that quickly because it just didn’t feel right.

And the difficulties didn’t come just at practice. Writing was doable but made his arm tired. Eating, even out of a bowl with a spoon, was not as easy as it would seem. Driving was a challenge for a bit. Sometimes he couldn’t open a door. He couldn’t shake people’s hands.

“Sometimes I’d get down on myself. Sometimes it’s frustrating,” Vincent said. “Before I went to the doctor’s office, I knew something was wrong with it – I wasn’t numb to the fact. Once I got told, obviously it was upsetting. All the what-ifs happen – what happens if I fall on it, will I be able to play, what if the pain is too much one day? It was really sad, but I got through it. I took it one day at a time. I wasn’t thinking about a week from now. I just got through what I could.”

He did sit out some parts of practice. Latz would pull him out of games to be cautious, but Vincent would ask right back in. A few opponents knew because they were Vincent’s friends, but mostly the team kept the injury an internal secret.

The Marauders’ season ended in a Regional Semifinal loss to Bridgeport on March 12, and three days later Vincent had surgery that included inserting bone from elsewhere in his arm and putting in a screw to hold everything together.

He’s wearing a cast now, and will switch to a splint in four weeks. He’s missing his track team’s first three meets, but will return after spring break next week – he runs the 200, 400 and on the 800 and 1,600 relays.

He’s planning to play college basketball. He has Division III opportunities and could also play at the junior college level to start out. Wherever he ends up, he’ll bring a much more well-rounded game – a lot of good that came out of what could’ve been a sad situation.

“First of all, (even without hurting) my wrist, if someone would’ve asked me if my team would do this, I would’ve told them I honestly don’t know,” Vincent said. “That alone surprised me. … It’s all shocking to me, to be able to do as good as a team, and I was able to do good individually also.

“Before this I was good left-handed, but I easily could say right-handed I was better. Now, honestly, my left hand is better than my right hand. I’ve learned new moves, I can do right and left hand now. Obviously I wish I hadn’t broken my wrist. But there were a lot of benefits to my game. I’ll take the good things and move on from it.”

Geoff Kimmerly joined the MHSAA as its Media & Content Coordinator in Sept. 2011 after 12 years as Prep Sports Editor of the Lansing State Journal. He has served as Editor of Second Half since its creation in Jan. 2012. Contact him at [email protected] with story ideas for the Barry, Eaton, Ingham, Livingston, Ionia, Clinton, Shiawassee, Gratiot, Isabella, Clare and Montcalm counties.

PHOTOS: (Top) Carson Vincent chases down a loose ball against Bridgeport this season. (Middle) Vincent throws down a dunk against Ithaca. (Photos courtesy of the Ovid-Elsie boys basketball program.)

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.