Lenawee Christian Earns Saturday Return

March 20, 2014

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

EAST LANSING – From 1998-2001, Adrian Lenawee Christian’s boys basketball team made four MHSAA Quarterfinals and advanced to three Semifinals.

Senior guard Brad Harrah remembers and is reminded every day.

“Every time I come out to practice, I see those banners and they remind me of the last time we were here,” he said. “It just drives our team.”

It helped drive the Cougars on Thursday into an MHSAA Final for the first time.

Lenawee Christian survived a third-quarter comeback by sharp-shooting Cedarville to advance to its first boys basketball championship game with a 67-58 victory in the final Class D Semifinal at the Breslin Center.

“It just means everything to us. As one of our players said, it’s our only option. We don’t have any other option but to come out and win this game and come out and win Saturday,” Harrah said. “Just to get back to where the program was, and take it a step farther, is just incredible.”

The Cougars (21-4) will face two-time defending champion Southfield Christian at 10 a.m. Saturday.

Total, Lenawee Christian has made the season’s final week eight times over the last 17 years. Its last three Quarterfinal runs were stopped by Class D powerhouse Wyoming Tri-unity Christian – but this week the Cougars were able to break through with an overtime win Tuesday over Battle Creek St. Philip. 

Lenawee Christian took a one-point lead Thursday on junior Nick Mewborn’s 3-pointer before the first-quarter horn, and pushed the advantage to 10 by halftime.

But Cedarville (24-2) just needed a few more minutes to heat up.

The Trojans made 8 of 15 shots from the floor during the third quarter, and junior forward Brad Causley scored 15 of his 22 points during the period as Cedarville pulled within 48-47. The Trojans then tied the score 49-49 on another Causley bucket 28 seconds into the fourth quarter.

“Being such an experienced team and having a great tradition, we knew they would have a run and were going to come back,” Lenawee Christian coach Scott McKelvey said. “They have so many great shooters on their team, and we had to weather their run. … I thought we did a great job keeping our composure.”

The key was getting the ball in the post to 6-7 senior forward Kingsley, who finished with 22 points and 16 rebounds. Sophomore 6-7 center Maxwell had 12 points, including the go-ahead basket to break the fourth-quarter tie and another bucket to push the lead back to six with 5:33 to play.

Senior guard Grant Hohlbein also added 15 points and seven rebounds for Lenawee Christian – with six of those points coming in the fourth quarter.

The Trojans also cooled off substantially, making only 2 of 16 shots from the floor during the final period.

“Every coach in America says when you’re making shots, you look good,” Cedarville coach Dave Duncan said. “But I’m proud of our effort – it was a pretty gutsy effort I felt like we played with in the second half.”

Junior guard Joey Duncan also had 22 points for the Trojans and grabbed nine rebounds. Senior center Dann Stenback added 12 points and five rebounds.

Cedarville made its third Quarterfinal in four seasons this week, with the Semifinal berth its first since 2009.

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

PHOTO: (Top) Adrian Lenawee Christian’s Nick Mewborn works to find an opening in the Cedarville defense during Thursday’s Class D Semifinal. (Middle) Cedarville's Joey Duncan attempts to drive past a Lenawee Christian defender.

HIGHLIGHTS: (1) Grant Hohlbein keyed an 8-0 fourth quarter run for Adrian Lenawee Christian with a pair of baskets, including this baseline drive. He ended the game with 15 points. (2) Brad Causley had 22 points and nine rebounds for Cedarville in the Class D Semifinal. Here he scores on a putback off a blocked shot.

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.