Performance: East English's Kamari Newman

February 25, 2016

Kamari Newman
Detroit East English senior – Boys Basketball

Newman joined Detroit East English’s first boys varsity basketball team as a freshmen for the 2012-13 season and will graduate as the first all-time great in the young program’s history (the school opened in 2012 after the closures of Detroit Crockett and Finney). In his fourth and final opportunity, the 6-foot-4 guard led the Bulldogs to their first Detroit Public School League Tournament title to earn the Michigan National Guard’s “Performance of the Week.”

Newman scored 17 of his game-high 28 points during the first half of a 71-70 semifinal win over Detroit Collegiate Prep on Feb. 12, then scored a game-high 24 points in the 86-62 championship game win over Detroit Renaissance on Feb. 19 (East English had lost to Renaissance by four in a 2015 PSL semifinal). For the season, Newman is averaging 22 points, six rebounds, four assists and 1.5 steals per game for East English, which is 16-3. Not surprisingly, Newman has the school record for 1,591 career points and also with 193 3-pointers – which are enough to make the MHSAA’s career list in that category, and while he has at least two more games to play. Newman has been a strong shooter throughout his career, but said he's improved his rebounding and leadership most as a senior. 

He also earned all-city honors in cross country in the fall and ran on that team all four years of high school along with a number of his teammates – he credits cross country with helping the basketball team train to play its uptempo style during the winter. Newman has signed to continue his basketball career at George Mason University in Virginia. He is unsure what we will study, but said the sciences are among his favorite and best subjects.

Coach Juan Rickman said: “He’s always worked hard. He likes to stay in the gym. That’s one of the biggest impacts he’s had with our program. He’s been the catalyst. When we started the (PSL) run, he made the conscious decision in his mind that he was done losing, coming up short. When the opportunity presented itself, he became more of a leader. He just didn’t want to lose.”

Performance Point: “It was a tough road. I just wanted to lead us there. We came up short (in the past), so many people were counting us out. I definitely didn’t want to come up short this time.

Best in Bulldogs history: “It means a lot, but I know I’ve got a whole lot of work to do. It’s going to be great honor (though), but we’re not done yet. The group of guys, we go so deep. That’s been my favorite part, just being around those guys. (My role) is just to push everybody, to lead, to their limit. I try to get the best out of all my teammates; they respect me.”

Had to be a Patriot: “Just the coaching staff (at George Mason), they were telling me basically what Coach Rickman tells me. They work extremely hard, and really they don’t have anybody to score the ball like that, so I want to go in there and help them where they’re struggling.”

Create like Curry: “Steph Curry; I don’t really watch him too much, because I’m not him. But sometimes I try to be like him. How quickly he gets it off, creates his own shot, that what I like about him. ... I want to get better at becoming the combo (guard), getting the ball when I need it, distributing it, seeing the floor on the defensive end and being more aware.”

– Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor

Every week during the 2015-16 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 protecting lives and property of Michigan citizens during a local natural disaster.

Previous 2015-16 honorees
Feb. 17: Jason Whitens, Powers North Central boys basketball - Read 
Feb. 10: Rachel Hogan, Grand Ledge gymnastics - Read
Feb. 3: Nehemiah Mork, Midland Dow swimming & diving - Read
Jan. 27: Mardrekia Cook, Muskegon girls basketball - Read
Jan. 20: Sage Castillo, Hartland wrestling - Read
Jan. 13: Rob Zofchak, Dexter swimming & diving - Read
Jan. 6: Tyler Deming, Caro wrestling – Read
Dec. 15: Jordan Weber, East Jordan boys basketball – Read
Dec. 8: Kaitlyn Geers, Kent City girls basketball – Read

PHOTOS: (Top) Detroit East English’s Kamari Newman brings the ball upcourt during the Detroit Public School League Tournament. (Middle) Newman was the team’s leading scorer in both the semifinal and championship game. (Top photos courtesy of the Detroit East English basketball program, middle photo courtesy of the Detroit Public School League/Bonnie Warmack.)

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.