Consortium Proves To Be Best in Class C

March 22, 2014

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

EAST LANSING – Detroit Consortium’s boys basketball team fell in a 2011 Semifinal to eventual Class C champion Schoolcraft. A year later, the Cougars’ season ended with a two-point Regional Final loss to eventual title winner Flint Beecher. 

Joshua Jackson was watching – but couldn’t help. He was still in junior high.

But the now-sophomore decided then that when he was old enough, he’d play a part in the Cougars' first MHSAA title. 

Consortium entered this postseason ranked No. 2 in the final Class C poll. With the 6-foot-8 Jackson leading and surrounded by a talented a cast, the Cougars eliminated No. 1 Mount Clements and No. 3 Negaunee this week and finished with a 61-44 championship game win over No. 10 Pewamo-Westphalia on Saturday at the Breslin Center.

“Playing with most of the guys last year, I always had trust in them,” Jackson said. “I just had something to prove, and they wanted to win just like I did. 

“To prove so many people wrong, I know maybe one person picked us to win (over Mount Clemens). I guess they thought overall their team was better than ours. (But) I think we’ve proved people wrong all year winning big games.”

Consortium beat some of the best in finishing 25-2 this winter. 

The Cougars also defeated No. 5 Detriot Allen in their Regional Final, plus ranked Class A Saginaw Arthur Hill, Romulus and Detroit Southeastern, ranked Class B Detroit Country Day and Detroit Douglass, an MHSAA semifinalist in that class.

And that’s some of what coach Tobias Tuomi reminded his players when Consortium led Pewamo-Westphalia only 27-25 in the championship game. 

“We just said to cherish the moment. I told them to appreciate all the work, and it is a heck of an opportunity just to be here,” Tuomi said. “But we didn’t come here to be here. We came to win a state championship. To do that, we’d have to do all the little things we do in practice, things that won us games all season.”

P-W (23-3) was doing them to keep pace during the first half and up until taking a 34-32 lead three minutes into the third quarter. Despite trailing by 11 at the end of the first period, the Pirates drew even heading into the final minute of the first half before senior guard Rudy Smith hit a go-ahead basket to give Consortium the two-point lead at the break. 

But after senior Evan Fedewa’s 3-pointer gave the Pirates that third-quarter advantage, Consortium outscored them 19-3 to take a 51-37 lead with 6:50 to play.

Consortium’s defense tightened and P-W’s shooting percentage fell – from 43 percent from the floor during the first half to 32 percent in the second. Meanwhile, the Cougars upped their offensive output, improving from 42 percent from the floor to 63 over the final two quarters. Senior guard Ronald Booth, in particular, scored 12 of his 14 points during the second half to finish as one of three Consortium players in double figures. 

“We just dug down, got a little more focused,” Tuomi said. “Definitely, (P-W was) taking a lot tougher shots.”

Smith also finished with 14 points for Consortium. Jackson led with 22 points on 9 of 13 shooting – including hitting all three of his 3-point attempts, and also grabbed 13 rebounds.

“For the old guys like me, I saw Earvin Johnson play here at (Lansing) Everett, and I had season tickets when he was (at Michigan State). He’s a similar type of player to him,” P-W coach Luke Pohl said of Jackson. “Whether he’s going to become that kind of player is another story, but he’s really talented. He might be the most talented person our teams have played against. He can see the court real well, passes well … and he’s a really humble kid.”

Senior center Lane Simon scored a game-high 23 points and grabbed seven rebounds for P-W, and senior guard Nick Spitzley finished a four-year varsity career with 10 points and three assists. 

They and nine seniors total brought the Pirates to their first championship game since 1993. Pohl – who graduated from P-W in 1976 and has coached over two tenures since 1995 – called this the best team in school history. It definitely highlighted the Pirates a little more prominently on the statewide basketball map.

“Obviously I wanted to achieve the state championship,” Simon said. “But it feels like we got a lot of respect back."

Consortium did make the Quarterfinals with Jackson last season, again falling by two to Beecher as the Buccaneers went on to repeat as champions. But that was impressive in itself – the Cougars continued on although coach Al Anderson died unexpectedly that February. 

The run also set the stage for things to come.

“We wanted to sit and sob and cry about it, but at the end of the day we knew that what he wanted was for us to win a state championship more than anything,” Jackson said. “So we knew that was something that we had to do.” 

Click for a full box score and video from the press conference.

PHOTOS: (Top) Detroit Consortium’s Rudy Smith pushes down the floor as Pewamo-Westphalia’s Nick Spitzley gives chase during the Class C Final. (Middle) The Pirates’ Lane Simon goes strong to the basket for two of his game-high 23 points. 

HIGHLIGHTS: (1) Joshua Jackson follows a miss with a big dunk for Detroit Consortium in the fourth quarter of its Class C championship game against Pewamo-Westphalia. Jackson finished with 22 points and 13 rebounds in leading his team to the win. (2) Some nice passing by Pewamo-Westphalia sets up Evan Fedewa for a 3-pointer to give the Pirates a 34-32 lead in the third quarter against Detroit Consortium in the Class C title game.

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.