Godwin Hts Earns Championship Chance

March 27, 2015

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor 

EAST LANSING – Three District titles, three Regional titles and 75 wins give Wyoming Godwin Heights one of the most impressive three-season resumes of any MHSAA team in any sport. 

But that’s not what Delaney Blaylock was thinking about when he embraced teammate Michael Williams at the end of Friday’s 70-64 Semifinal win over reigning Class B champion Milan.

Both played key roles on the teams that fell in the 2013 Semifinals and 2014 Quarterfinals – and both started Friday in a game they wouldn’t have been criticized for losing. 

“It was just relief,” Blaylock said. “I had to hug Mike. I couldn’t believe we even won this game.”

The No. 3 Wolverines (25-1), seeking their first championship, will play Detroit Henry Ford in Saturday's 6:30 p.m. Final.

Godwin Heights trailed by three points heading into the fourth quarter and as late at 4:19 to play – but launched a 13-7 run over the final 2:34 to earn its first championship game berth since 1960.

Junior guard Leon Redd, who averaged 9.8 points per game entering this week, scored 12 of his 19 points during the final six minutes. He played only 21 minutes total because of foul trouble, and stayed in the game despite picking up his fourth with 7:13 to play.

“He got out of rhythm the first three quarters and picked up his fourth early in the (fourth) quarter … but we believe in him, and let him stay in the game and let him play it out,” Godwin Heights coach Tyler Whittemore said. “Leon has been big for us all year. It’s his second year on varsity as a junior, and playing under these guys, he understands his moment to shine.” 

But it took a few more heroes to take down the top-ranked Big Reds (24-3).

Williams, a solid 6-foot-4, played a major part in keeping Milan’s 6-9 Nick Perkins to 42 percent shooting from the floor. The Wolverines held star senior guard Latin Davis to an identical 8 of 19. Perkins scored six points during the fourth quarter, but Davis had only three on just two shots with Godwin Heights working to deny him favorable looks at the basket.

Williams had 13 points and 13 rebounds and perhaps the most impressive stat of the game – nine rebounds off the offensive glass. Blaylock joined Redd with 19 points and also grabbed 12 rebounds.

“We wanted to keep this like a regular game as much as possible,” Whittemore said. “We understand this is the number one team in the state, and they’ve got two all-state players. But we weren’t scared of them, not anxious to play them. We were just ready.” 

Perkins did finish with 21 points and 13 rebounds, and Davis had 17 points, seven rebounds, four assists and four blocked shots. They and Milan's other five seniors may have fallen two wins shy of a repeat, but also finished an impressive legacy.

The Big Reds over the last four seasons have earned four Huron League, three District and two Regional titles in addition to last year’s Class B championship – which was the school’s first since 1948. Perkins will play next season at the University of Buffalo, and Davis has signed with Youngstown State University.

“We knew they were athletic. We just didn’t do a good job on our end playing the right way,” Milan coach Chris Pope said. “But give them credit though; they weren’t scared and they didn’t back down. They played a heck of a game.”

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

PHOTOS: (Top) Godwin Heights’ Richard Major works his way past Milan’s Arius Richmond during Friday’s Semifinal. (Middle) Latin Davis (32) looks for space surrounded by Wolverines including Karon Patrick (3).

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.

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.