Performance: Big Rapids' Demetri Martin
December 15, 2016
Big Rapids senior – Basketball
To finish last season, Martin led unranked Big Rapids to its first MHSAA Semifinals and within a basket of playing for the Class B championship. He began his senior campaign with another, more individual highlight; the 6-foot-4 guard scored his 1,000th point in a 65-50 win over Grant on Friday to earn the Michigan National Guard “Performance of the Week.” Martin, a four-year starter, finished with 31 points and 12 rebounds against Grant and added 24 points and 10 rebounds in Tuesday’s 63-43 win over Lakeview.
Martin also was the team’s leading scorer last season, averaging 19.5 points per game along with 8.8 rebounds before scoring a team-high 22 in a 61-60 Class B Semifinal loss to Stevensville Lakeshore. After, he was named Central State Activities Association Gold Player of the Year for the second time and made the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan all-state team. This winter, Martin is teaming with senior Christian Hector, junior Braeden Childress and others including sophomore brother and starting point guard Dorian Martin with hopes of returning to the championship mix. Demetri Martin entered this season needing 21 points to reach 1,000 for his career, and nearly pulled off the feat in the first quarter of that first game. He worked this summer on adding a longer pull-up jumper, and he went over 1,000 swishing a pull-up 3-pointer from NBA range.
Just as impressive over his four years of high school has been Martin’s climb academically. In his words, Martin entered high school with all Ds and was barely academically eligible to play basketball as a freshman, frequently skipping school before and after that season. But he’s now pulling As and Bs and plans to study for a career either in education or sports medicine. He'll surely play college basketball at some level – most of his interest has come from Division II schools but he's also had contact from one in Division I.
Coach Kent Ingles said: “He’s obviously the best player in (our) area, and the best player we’ve had in a while … and he’s following a couple pretty good kids into the mix. He’s a multi-position player; he’s actually pretty unselfish. He’d rather pass the ball than shoot it. He’s been with me four years, and we’ve won three conference championships and been to the Quarter(finals) two times. … I told him we’ll be a good team when our best player is our hardest worker, and he’s done that too. He is a real success story. He’s a neat kid. He’s bubbly, he’s fun to talk to, he’s kinda hyper and can’t sit still. But he’s grown up a lot as a young man and as a basketball player, and we’re happy to see the total development with him."
Performance Point: “Not many people can score 1,000 points, so for me to get that, it just means a lot to me,” Martin said, “that all the hard work I put in is starting to show. I thought about (the 1,000th point) for a couple of months once I found out how far (away) I was, and I was thinking I can get this in the first quarter if I actually try. I ended up with 17 (points in the first quarter), but I was just taking it slow. If I would’ve kept that scoring streak going, I probably could’ve gotten it in the first quarter.
Breslin dreams come true: “Half the state (last season) probably didn’t even know where Big Rapids is. We weren’t ranked. We’re not in the Grand Rapids area. So it’s, where is this team from? And then we show up, and everyone probably expected a blowout. (But) in the beginning of the season, before we even started practicing, I was talking to some of my old teammates and I said, ‘We’ll probably make it to Breslin this year, you know that?’ We did. We made it. We were a lot better than what we played. … Since this is my last year, I know what we have to do to get there again, and I want to try my best to get there.”
Preparing the future: “My freshman year, I was just a rebounder. I picked up the leadership stuff from (2014 graduates) Quinn Tyson, Jake Hayes, Austin Hayes; they passed me the torch, so sophomore year I would lead but not like last year when I was leading the team and obviously one of the go-to guys. (This season) I’m trying to tell (my teammates) what to do and what not to do, how the game should be played so they can score 1,000 points in their careers too, so they can lead other future Big Rapids teams. I don’t want to go out as just a scorer who didn’t really teach the kids anything.”
Football’s a hit: “I played football for the first time (this fall). It was pretty fun. I wasn’t the go-to player, so it was different. But blocking was probably the best – you get to slam people. Tryouts had already passed, but the night before two-a-days I had a dream, and I was like man, I’m going to go out and try out for football, and I knew coach wanted me to play. … I’m glad that I played, and I got physically stronger too.”
Continuing to make a difference: “I want to become a teacher … because my coach (assistant Blake) Thomas, when I came here and then I was struggling a little bit in classes, he’d invite me over and we’d study on this, and that brought my grades up a lot. To help someone out like that, and not even know them, I think that’s something some kids need and I want to do that. Sports medicine, I injure myself a lot, so if there is someone who has these problems like me, I would help them out.”
- Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor
Every week during the 2016-17 school year, Second Half and the Michigan National Guard will recognize a “Performance of the Week" from among the MHSAA's 750 member high schools.
The Michigan Army National Guard provides trained and ready forces in support of the National Military Strategy, and responds as needed to state, local, and regional emergencies to ensure peace, order, and public safety. The Guard adds value to our communities through continuous interaction. National Guard soldiers are part of the local community. Guardsmen typically train one weekend per month and two weeks in the summer. This training maintains readiness when needed, be it either to defend our nation's freedom or protect lives and property of Michigan citizens during a local natural disaster.
Previous 2016-17 honorees:
Dec. 1: Rodney Hall, Detroit Cass Tech football – Read
Nov. 24: Ally Cummings, Novi volleyball – Read
Nov. 17: Chloe Idoni, Fenton volleyball – Read
Nov. 10: Adelyn Ackley, Hart cross country – Read
Nov. 3: Casey Kirkbride, Mattawan soccer – Read
Oct. 27: Colton Yesney, Negaunee cross country – Read
Oct. 20: Varun Shanker, Midland Dow tennis – Read
Oct. 13: Anne Forsyth, Ann Arbor Pioneer cross country – Read
Oct. 6: Shuaib Aljabaly, Coldwater cross country – Read
Sept. 29: Taylor Seaman, Brighton swimming & diving – Read
Sept. 22: Maggie Farrell, Battle Creek Lakeview cross country – Read
Sept. 15: Franki Strefling, Buchanan volleyball – Read
Sept. 8: Noah Jacobs, Corunna cross country – Read
PHOTOS: (Top) Demetri Martin glides around a defender during last week’s win against Grant. (Middle) Martin drives to the hoop as Big Rapids went on to a 65-50 victory. (Photos courtesy of the Big Rapids athletic department.)
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.