Sweet-Shooting Briggs, Talented Teammates have Muskegon Dreaming Big Again
By Tom Kendra
Special for MHSAA.com
January 10, 2023
Jordan Briggs put on another shooting clinic Saturday night in front of a packed house at Muskegon’s historic Redmond-Potter Gymnasium, repeatedly elevating and hitting 3-pointers and mid-range jumpers, making it look effortless.
While the Muskegon senior has certainly been blessed with plenty of God-given ability, there is so much more to his story.
To fully understand Briggs’ emergence as one of the state’s best pure shooters, you had to be in the gym this summer when there was no crowd, no opposing team, no coaches and no media – just Briggs and the school’s shooting machine.
The only sounds on those days were the squeaks of his shoes echoing off the walls, followed up repeatedly by the swish of a leather ball through nylon. Five-hundred made shots every day. No exceptions. No excuses.
“I love to shoot,” said Briggs, a 6-foot-1 senior who scored a team-high 24 points Saturday to keep Muskegon undefeated with a 62-51 victory over Ferndale in the finale of the three-game Muskegon Basketball Showcase.
“I never get bored, and I could do it all day. That work I’ve put in gives me and my coaches confidence to take those shots in games. I pretty much have the green light.”
He’s not kidding.
Late in the first half Saturday, Briggs had the ball on a 2-on-1 fastbreak when he suddenly pulled up and fired a 3-pointer, which just rimmed out. Muskegon coach Keith Guy, who loves his team to constantly attack the rim, clapped his approval.
“Jordan is a pure shooter,” explained Guy, whose team is 5-0 and 1-0 in the Ottawa-Kent Conference Green. “But he’s also crafty with the basketball. He can get other guys involved and he’s got it on a string, so that’s a nightmare for other teams.
“A lot of great shooters can’t hurt you off the dribble, but he can do both.”
Muskegon’s win Saturday was the 400th career victory for Guy as a head coach – with 191 in nine years at Muskegon Heights and 209 wins in 11 years at Muskegon.
Guy, whose tenure at Muskegon is highlighted by a Class A title in 2014 and two Mr. Basketball winners in DeShaun Thrower (2014) and Deyonta Davis (2015), has another team with the makings of a championship run and another Mr. Basketball candidate in Briggs.
Muskegon features two floor general-type point guards in senior David Day III and junior M’Khi Guy, along with a loaded front court with seven players standing 6-4 or taller, led by starting juniors Terrance Davis (6-6) and Stanley Cunningham (6-5).
A pure shooter like Briggs – a three-year starter who has committed to Wayne State – is something that Guy hasn’t always had, and might be what makes the difference in March.
Briggs had his best game of the season back on Dec. 28 at the Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame Classic at Reeths-Puffer High School. Michigan State coach Tom Izzo was there to get a close look at recruiting target Durral Brooks of Grand Rapids Catholic Central, but it was Briggs who stole the show.
Briggs scored a game-high 35 points, including the winning bucket in overtime in an 81-79 victory.
“I just happened to catch fire that night,” said Briggs, who is a 4.0-GPA student and a National Honor Society member. “That was a great win for us and we’re rolling to start the season, which is great. But we want to keep it going and play our best basketball in March, when it really counts.”
In the Big Reds’ first league game Friday night at cross-town rival Muskegon Reeths-Puffer, Briggs got in foul trouble and didn’t score in the first half. He made amends by scoring his team’s first 12 points of the second half (on four 3-pointers), as Muskegon pulled away for a 51-26 victory.
He followed that up with his 24-point performance against Ferndale and is now averaging 24 points, six rebounds and five assists per game.
Guy hopes that, led by Briggs, this year’s team is ready for a long run – literally.
Guy made all of his varsity players that were not on the football team run cross country this fall, and not just for conditioning reasons.
“It put them out of their comfort zones, which is a good thing,” explained Guy, who is also Muskegon’s athletic director. “Take Jordan, for example. Basketball is comfortable for him. I wanted to put him in situations that weren’t as comfortable for him so that he would learn how to adapt and handle being uncomfortable a little better.”
Tom Kendra worked 23 years at The Muskegon Chronicle, including five as assistant sports editor and the final six as sports editor through 2011. E-mail him at [email protected] with story ideas for Muskegon, Oceana, Mason, Lake, Oceola, Mecosta and Newaygo counties.
PHOTOS (Top) Muskegon’s Jordan Briggs (2) pulls up for a shot at the 3-point arc during his team’s win Saturday over Ferndale. (Middle) Briggs makes his move toward the basket. (Photos by Tim Reilly.)
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.