Hoopfest Returns for Boys Hoops Finals
March 24, 2015
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
March Magic Hoopfest will return to Jenison Field House for this weekend’s Michigan High School Athletic Association Boys Basketball Finals, marking the sixth championship weekend the event has run concurrent with the games being played at Michigan State University’s Breslin Center.
A number of favorite attractions will return including slam dunk (on lowered rims), 3-point shootout and half-court rainbow shot areas where fans can come at any time and participate. Also returning is the Walk of History, showcasing championship games, life-size photos and display boards from throughout the MHSAA Finals’ near century-long run.
Two Hoopfest center courts will host a number of games throughout the event, including the “JumpBall Jamboree” made up of teams of boys and girls in grades 3-8, a wheelchair basketball tournament and a series of games between Special Olympics Project UNIFY high school teams.
Admission to the March Magic Hoopfest is $2 per person, and fans attending the MHSAA Boys Basketball Semifinals and Finals will be admitted free with their game tickets. Hours on March 26 and 27 will be 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.; the event is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on March 28. Jenison Field House, site of Hoopfest, also was the site of the MHSAA Boys Basketball Finals for 31 years. To find out more general information about the event, visit the March Magic Hoopfest Website.
Hoopfest also will be home to Hoopie, the event’s mascot who made his first public appearances last season. Click for video of Hoopie preparing for this weekend’s event.
The March Magic Hoopfest is being conducted in partnership between the Greater Lansing Sports Authority (GLSA), a division of the Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the MHSAA, with vital support coming from the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics at Michigan State University.
“My kids always look forward to going to Hoopfest. They love running around Jenison, playing the different basketball games and being with all the kids,” MHSAA Director of Brand Management Andy Frushour said. “This event has turned into a ‘must do’ every spring.”
The Greater Lansing Sports Authority’s mission is to be the leading voice of sports tourism in the Greater Lansing area and to promote economic growth by attracting a diverse range of sporting events to the region. The GLSA strives to enhance the quality of life for area residents through the development of local sports and fitness programs for all ages and supports the continued development and maintenance of safe, high-quality athletic facilities.
“The March Magic Hoopfest sets off a great weekend of MHSAA tournament games and helps create a multi-day event which will involve the Lansing area and thousands of visitors from across the state,” GLSA Executive Director Mike Price said. “If you’re coming to the championships, Hoopfest is a destination to visit before and after the games; and if you’re not coming to the games, Hoopfest is a fun, wholesome, inexpensive, family activity.”
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.