Lakeshore Finds Way to Win, Play for More
March 25, 2016
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
EAST LANSING – The Stevensville Lakeshore boys basketball team of January and February won as many games as it lost.
The Stevensville Lakeshore team of March will play Saturday for its first MHSAA championship.
It’s been that drastic of a turnaround over the last month for the Lancers, who came back to beat Big Rapids 61-60 in Friday’s late Class B Semifinal to advance to their first title game since 2012.
The win also ran Lakeshore’s streak to 11, a string that’s included two victories in overtime and three by two points or fewer.
“We’ve always had this goal. We always thought we were this good to make it here,” Lakeshore senior center Braden Burke said. “We just had a rough patch in the middle, but everyone stayed positive. We never really thought we were out of it. We just did our thing and eventually came around.”
Lakeshore will take on reigning Class B runner-up Detroit Henry Ford in this season’s final game, at 6:30 p.m., as both seek their first MHSAA title.
The Lancers have indeed emerged from some rough patches to close this season. After going 5-0 in December, Lakeshore lost its first two games of 2016 and then five of six from Jan. 29-Feb. 19. Those defeats resulted in the team finishing fourth in the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference West behind three teams that shared the title.
But the Lancers defeated two of the co-champions at the start of this run and have continued to battle through – although just as the team had a rough go during the middle two months of the season, so did it look to be done after Friday’s middle two quarters.
Lakeshore led 11-8 at the end of the first quarter, but Big Rapids went on a 41-33 run over the second and third to swing the score and carry a five-point lead into the final period. The Cardinals (23-3) ran the lead to seven on senior Jeffrey Davenport’s bucket with 6:12 to go.
Big Rapids connected on eight of its 11 3-pointers during the run, and shot better from beyond the arc (48 percent) than inside it (44 percent) for the game.
“In all the films we watched on them, we never saw them make that many 3s,” Lakeshore coach Sean Schroeder said. “They shot the heck out of it, and it’s a credit to them. But it’s also a testimony to my team in that boy, we seem to find a way to win. And that’s how we’ve been throughout the entire tournament.”
One last 3-pointer by Big Rapids senior Kenny Davis put his team up 56-50 with 3:57 to play. But Lakeshore senior Gibson Archer answered with a trey as well, starting a 9-0 run that he also finished with a score to put the Lancers up 59-56 with 34 seconds remaining.
The teams traded pairs of free throws before Davenport put back a rebound with seven seconds left to cut the deficit to one. Big Rapids managed to stop the clock with a foul with just under a second to play – but after two Lancers free-throw misses could get off only a desperation shot that was on line but short and just after the buzzer.
“The one thing that always happens with this group of kids is they always come to play, and they did tonight,” Big Rapids coach Kent Ingles said. “You get to the state semifinals and it’s a tight ball game, one point, and it could either way. I hope the people in the community are proud of these kids and the entertainment they provided again too.
“We stumbled a couple years in quarters and finally got here, so I guess we’ve got next year to get back here again.”
Burke scored 16 points and grabbed eight rebounds, and junior Max Gaishin had 15 and 10, respectively, to help pace Lakeshore. Archer finished with 15 points as well. And senior Logan Steffes had 11 points including a key steal and score late.
Junior Demetri Martin led Big Rapids with 22 points and four assists, and Davis had 15 points on five 3-pointers.
The Boys Basketball Finals are presented by Sparrow Health System.
PHOTOS: (Top) Stevensville Lakeshore’s Braden Burke (34) pins a shot against the glass just above the reach of Big Rapids’ Braeden Childress. (Middle) Kenny Davis (14) launches a 3-pointer from the corner.
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.