Class C Final: Beecher Legacy Grows
March 24, 2012
EAST LANSING – Antuan Burks and Monte Morris sat together during the 2008 Class C Final and watched Flint Beecher come up just three points short of winning an MHSAA championship.
They agreed they’d be back to finish the job.
The Buccaneers gave it a run at the 2010 Semifinals, and again last season. This winter, not only did they again play into the final weekend of the season – the Bucs put together arguably the best in the program’s illustrious history.
Beecher capped a perfect run with a 74-60 win over Traverse City St. Francis in Saturday’s Class C Final at Breslin Center. The championship is the Bucs’ first since winning Class B in 1987 – and made good on that middle school dream of its current varsity captains, Burks and Morris.
“We sat by each other here saying we’re going to finish it. We’re going to bring a championship home,” Burks said. “We made history today.”
And in a number of ways.
Beecher finished 28-0, becoming the 12th team in MHSAA history to win that many in one season. Flint has gained national renown for its hoops prowess and tradition, and this championship was the first for the city’s public schools since Flint Northern won Class A in 1995. This title came after Beecher’s runner-up finishes in 2008, 2003 and in Class B in 2000.
Bucs legend Roy Marble, who later played at Iowa and in the NBA, called the team Friday night and offered encouragement for the Final and a reminder about the legacy of Beecher basketball.
“It’s incredible. The only thing that I can say is we’ve got the full support of all the Beecher alumni,” Bucs coach Mike Williams said. “It’s humbling to be considered and to be known right up there with all those great teams that have played in the past at Beecher and to add to the legacy Beecher has. That’s the main thing.”
This Beecher team will be remembered in part for its incredibly fast pace of place, and the Bucs got going quickly Saturday. They had six fast-break points and constantly pushed the tempo in taking a 23-9 by the end of the first quarter.
Beecher pushed the advantage to 41-21 by halftime.
“Just going by what the defense did to us, they dictated that we needed to push the ball up the floor. That’s our game anyway,” Williams said. “The faster we play, the better. We can just run up and down the floor and play freestyle basketball, but we can also slow it down in the halfcourt. With the road we went through to get here, we played every style.”
St. Francis (25-3) didn’t go quietly, though. The Gladiators cut the deficit to 12 with 2:10 to play in the third quarter, and multiple times seemed on the verge of making the game a lot closer.
Senior center Sean Sheldon finished with game highs of 22 points, 19 rebounds and six blocks, and senior point guard Devin Sheehy capped his high school career with eight assists.
“The style of game we play, I figured if we could be close at halftime, usually we make a second-half run,” St. Francis coach Keith Haske said. “I really thought in the second half we went to their level, really played some good basketball.”
Morris led Beecher with 18 points, seven rebounds and six assists, and Burks had 16 rebounds and six assists. Senior Jequarius French added 14 points and senior Cortez Robinson scored 11.
With one more season to play, Morris has an opportunity to make more history at Beecher. As the reigning two-time Associated Press Class C Player of the Year, it’s more or less expected.
But like Marble did for this team, Saturday is a moment Morris will be passing on long after his days at Beecher are done.
“Knowing I can come back after our guys graduate, and just talk to the guys that are playing and let them know how we made the state championship and had an undefeated season,” Morris said, “that’s wisdom I can take and explain to younger guys that are coming up.”
Click for box score or to watch the game and press conferences at MHSAA.tv.
PHOTOS: (Top) Flint Beecher players together hoist the champion’s trophy after Saturday’s Class C Final. (Middle) Beecher junior Monte Morris splits Traverse City St. Francis defenders on his way to the basket. (See more at Terry McNamara Photography.)
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.