Glen Lake Dials Up Winning Number

March 22, 2018

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

EAST LANSING – The numbers may not lie, as the saying goes. But sometimes they tell an unexpected story.

Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central entered Thursday’s Class C Semifinal undefeated, and then made 52 percent of its shots from the floor.

But Maple City Glen Lake will play for its first MHSAA boys basketball championship since 1977 thanks to one other number in particular – the powerful 3.

The Lakers made 10 3-pointers – and three players combined to score all of their points – as they handed St. Mary its first and only loss, 62-56 at the Breslin Center.

The numbers nearly caught up to Glen Lake. After leading by as many as 13, the Lakers saw their advantage dwindle to two with two minutes to play. But junior guard Xander Okerlund scored four of his game-high 23 points to close out the historic victory.

“The way we looked at it is (it’s) another good basketball team that knows what they’re doing,” Glen Lake senior forward Cade Peterson said. “We expected coming into the game that they were going to make their runs. We were going to make our runs. What I love about this team is just we bounce back no matter what. Even after our two (regular-season) losses to a really good Buckley team, we come back, we just keep on going. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing.”

Glen Lake (24-2) earned its first championship game appearance since 1996 and will take on Detroit Edison in Saturday’s 4:30 p.m. Final.

The Lakers’ first four baskets Thursday were 3-pointers. They made 10 of 22 from beyond the arc – 46 percent of their tries, better than the 42 percent they shot from the field overall.

“I thought we did a nice job of not forcing them. We didn’t want to come out and start firing them,” Glen Lake coach Rich Ruelas said of the long-range shots. “Our big thing is inside-out – let’s get touches inside, and once they collapse, let’s open it up. We have guys who can absolutely knock them down … but we wanted to really make that defense work.

“We didn’t always take the greatest shots. But for the most part, we did.”

Monroe St. Mary (25-1) also plays inside-out, and had plenty of success inside. Senior 6-foot-8 forward C.J. Haut made 7 of 12 shots for 15 points as St. Mary scored 32 total in the paint, compared to Glen Lake’s 12.

Junior guard Hunter Kegley added 13 points, and senior guard Mitchell Sherrard and junior forward Tyler Welch both had 10 points.

But the Falcons had a hard time containing Glen Lake’s big three. In addition to Okerlund’s 23 points, Peterson finished with 20 and sophomore guard Reese Hazelton had 19.

The 62 points were the second-most St. Mary had given up this season – opponents had averaged only 40.4 points per game against the Falcons heading into this weekend.

“We got a lot of good shots. I just felt like early we gave up too many 3s,” St. Mary coach Randy Windham said. “We let them be a little comfortable. I just felt that they settled in, and when teams settle in and get their feet under them – our whole thing is to make them uncomfortable, get them off their spot.”

This was St. Mary’s second Semifinal – its first was in 2013 – and the Falcons took the next step after falling in the Quarterfinal a year ago.

“This final game doesn’t define us as people. We still had a really rewarding season,” Haut said. “We were 25-0 coming into this game, and we were undefeated in our league. We were ranked number one in the state for a long time. I don’t think this game has anything to do with the success of our season. We were still very successful.”

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Maple City Glen Lake’s Reece Hazelton launches a 3-pointer Thursday at the Breslin Center. (Middle) Monroe St. Mary’s Mitchell Sherrard works to get a shot around Glen Lake’s Cade Peterson.

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.