P-W Finishes Historic March Atop D3

March 16, 2019

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

EAST LANSING – Collin Trierweiler found himself outside with his older brother again, firing up free throws, one of his favorite things to do when he was younger.

Except this time, he was standing at the free-throw line at the Breslin Center, with no one else on his side of the court, less than a second remaining on the clock, and Pewamo-Westphalia’s first MHSAA Finals championship hanging on the shots he was about to take.

A meeting of undefeated finalists came down to the slimmest of margins Saturday at the Breslin Center. Trierweiler, on the line after an intentional foul was called on Iron Mountain with seven tenths of a second to play, made it through two timeouts before sinking the first shot, and a third timeout before making the second to put the Pirates ahead 53-52 and all but ice the Division 3 championship.

Trierweiler hadn’t practiced all postseason, and sat out multiple games with an ankle injury. But he played 26 minutes in the Final, on the court when it counted most.

“As a senior, right around the time when I get hurt, right as the playoffs start, it was frustrating, Trierweiler said. “Coach said it would be best to sit out the practices and just fight through the games. Every game I just had my teammates on my back saying you’ve got this, you’re fine, just keep playing the game. And when I was feeling pain, they’d help me forget about it.

“The free throws, I just tried to calm myself down and think about myself out in the driveway with my older brother. We used to practice all the time, and it was one of my favorite things to do. I always dreamed of a moment to be put on the free-throw line, a big moment. Maybe not quite this big, it was a little scary, but I tried to just block out the background, see the trees in my yard, and put them up and shoot them in.”

P-W (28-0) previously had finished Class C runner-up in 1993 and 2014.

Trierweiler entered this week making 59 percent of his free-throw tries this season.

But his absence from normal practice activities the last few weeks may have been a blessing in disguise.

“When he’s been sitting out, he’s been shooting free throws. I had him shooting free throws again (Saturday),” P-W coach Luke Pohl said. “Was I a little leery? Not really, because he’s a pretty tough-minded kid.

“I remember his mother telling me this season, (that) when he was just a little boy, he’d be dribbling the basketball in front of his mom saying, ‘Mom, someday I’m going to be the point guard at Pewamo-Westphalia,’ and he was so proud of that.”

The Pirates had led most of the first five minutes of the first quarter, but didn’t lead again until Trierweiler’s free throws at the end.
Iron Mountain (27-1) led by as many as eight points during the second and third quarters and by six multiple times during the fourth. Pirates senior Andre Smith took a six-point lead to three with a 3-pointer with 1:44 to play. After Trierweiler missed two 3-point tries to tie the score, he went in for a layup instead with 22.7 seconds left to bring the margin down to one.

Two free throws by Mountaineers’ sophomore Foster Wonders pushed the lead back to three, but again Trierweiler scored with 11.5 seconds left to make the margin one. Iron Mountain broke the ensuing pressure but was called for a travel, and on P-W’s last attempt to get down the court for a final shot, Trierweiler drew the intentional foul.

The ending was emotional for obvious reasons. Pohl said his heart went out to Iron Mountain. But he believed if Trierweiler hadn’t been fouled, he would have scored.

The Iron Mountain contingent certainly was disappointed, but completed a memorable run that saw the Mountaineers defeat last season’s Class C champ Detroit Edison in the Semifinal on the way to Saturday.

“We put in tremendous effort. It didn’t just start this year – it’s been going on for years with these guys,” Iron Mountain coach Bucky Johnson said. “Their effort has never been in question. I’m really proud of them for that. Pewamo, great effort by them too.”

Smith finished with 21 points, including five 3-pointers, for P-W. Junior Aaron Bearss had 15 points and eight rebounds.

Wonders scored a game-high 20 points for Iron Mountain, and junior Marcus Johnson had 17 points, six rebounds and three assists.

“I thought our kids played awesome,” Bucky Johnson added. “They went toe to toe, both teams. Give them credit, give us credit, what do you say? … It’s part of the game. It stinks to be on this end of it.”

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Pewamo-Westphalia’s Aaron Bearss makes a move to the basket while Iron Mountain’s Charlie Gerhard defends during Saturday’s Division 3 Final. (Middle) Collin Trierweiler shoots one of his last-second free throws.

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.