Marine City Rising Under Familiar Leader

By Paul Costanzo
Special for

January 30, 2019

Championship celebrations aren’t unfamiliar in Marine City. It’s just that they typically don’t happen after a boys basketball game.

The town most known for its football prowess is experiencing some extra excitement this winter, as the basketball program – now led by the same man who leads the football program, coach Ron Glodich – is seeing success it hasn’t seen in decades.

On Jan. 22, the Mariners boys basketball team clinched its first conference title since 1985, and three nights later, after another Macomb Area Conference Bronze win, they cut down the nets in their home gym.

“It was a great feeling, because I’m going to keep that net for the rest of my life,” Marine City junior Angelo Patsalis said. “When I look back at it, I’ll know this team was special.”

The Mariners were 10-2 overall and 7-0 in the MAC Bronze through January, and are changing the way people feel about their program. Now big, raucous crowds aren’t limited to just fall Fridays at East China Stadium.

“It’s definitely starting to change,” senior point guard Jack Kretzschmar said. “We didn’t really used to get a lot of people at home games because people just assumed we were going to lose. Now everyone is starting to show up, and the atmosphere they’re bringing to basketball is crazy.”

It’s no coincidence that Glodich, who has had multiple roles in Marine City athletics since taking a job at the school in 1987, is a common thread between the programs. 

Most of his success has come on the football field, where he’s been head coach since 2012, and was the offensive coordinator prior to that, as the team won Division 4 championships in 2007 and 2013 and made several other deep playoff runs. He’s also coached volleyball and baseball and had a previous stint as the boys basketball coach during the early 2000s. 

For the football players who also play basketball at Marine City, they knew exactly what to expect when Glodich took over.

“It’s the same guy,” Patsalis said. “If we’re in halftime and down by a couple points and not playing well, he still gets pretty fired up. The intensity kind of helps, because it fires you up to be better and pushes you to get to your potential.”

While each sport has its own quirks, Glodich has been able to apply many of his same coaching philosophies no matter which ball is in play.

“One of the things that stays consistent (from sport to sport) is the way we practice,” Glodich said. “We believe in high tempo, fast-paced practices. We break things down to bits and pieces and work on them, and that stays consistent. Getting into a good stance, that’s a commonality in all sports.”

A commonality between Glodich’s football and basketball methods is movement on offense, and just like it has done for decades on the gridiron, it’s having success now on the court.

“We know how to score and how to get kids moving, which makes us difficult to defend,” Glodich said. “We have one base offense, but we have some wrinkles going on. This group has some very good team speed, and we’re trying to put pressure on defenses, not letting them get settled.”

That speed also allows the Mariners to run, making up for a lack of size as the Mariners’ tallest player stands at just 6 feet, 4 inches.

“Even the drills we do in practice, basically we’re always running, and that correlates to the games,” Kretzschmar said. “Everyone on our team has such a high basketball IQ and we have a lot of chemistry built in over the last few years, so we know that we’re best when we’re running.”

That strategy helped make it a bit easier to transition from a football season that ended in the Division 5 Semifinals to the opening night of hoops in less than two weeks.

“Football got us conditioned, so we were already conditioned when we started the season,” Patsalis said. “When we got against that first team, we were ready to go.”

Glodich’s strong supporting staff also played a large role.

“Thankfully, I have a wonderful JV coach in Scott Hand,” Glodich said. “Not only did we go deep into the season with football, but basketball started a week early. In November, I had shoulder surgery, so it’s been a blessing to have such a wonderful JV coach who could handle things.”

The strong start never really stopped, as even the Mariners’ two losses came in double overtime against rival St. Clair, and to a 13-1 Richmond team. Winning the conference title was just the start, as there’s plenty more to play for the rest of the season.

“After Tuesday of next week, we get into the MAC tournament, so the Bronze and the Silver have four teams from each cross over in a three-game tournament,” Glodich said. “We would like to show that the Bronze, even though we’re the bottom level of the MAC, have a level of play that’s as competitive as the next league. Then, obviously, we move on to the District.”

There’s a long way to go, but the Mariners hope to at least continue building Marine City’s reputation as more than a football school.

“We kind of have a chip on our shoulder, because we’ve been known as a ‘football’ school for so long; we’re looking to bring that to basketball,” Kretzschmar said. “I think it’s just a special group of kids that we have, and everyone is trying to kind of change the culture to being an ‘athletic’ school.”

Paul Costanzo served as a sportswriter at The Port Huron Times Herald from 2006-15, including three years as lead sportswriter, and prior to that as sports editor at the Hillsdale Daily News from 2005-06. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Sanilac, Huron, Tuscola, Saginaw, Bay, Arenac, Midland and Gladwin counties.

PHOTOS: (Top) Marine City’s Reese Adamczyk (40) pulls up for a jumper during last week’s win over Center Line. (Middle) Mariners coach Ron Glodich. (Below) Tanner Mason (33) muscles for a shot in the post. (Action photos by Ally Swantek.)

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.