U-D Jesuit Continues Tourney Dominance

March 15, 2019

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

EAST LANSING – Only three Detroit U-D Jesuit players have seen action in all 27 of their team’s games this winter.

Friday was further evidence of what the Cubs had been missing for parts of this season.

Now together and in game shape after injuries and illnesses, Jesuit has won its seven tournament games by an average of 28 points, adding a 63-25 Division 1 Semifinal win over Okemos to earn its second championship game appearance in four seasons.

The Cubs’ closest postseason win over the last three weeks was by 11 over league rival Warren DeLaSalle in the Regional Semifinal.

Total, Jesuit has won 19 straight games since its last defeat.

“It’s great being on the floor when we’re playing well like this,” Jesuit senior guard Daniel Friday said. “Everybody’s clicking and playing for each other and playing together. It’s really been a pleasure being with these guys on the floor. It’s been translating to blowouts; hopefully we keep that up.”

Jesuit (25-2) will take on Ypsilanti Lincoln in Saturday’s 12:15 p.m. Final at the Breslin Center, seeking its second championship to go with the Class A title won in 2016. Okemos finished 23-3.

Of course, it took only a few minutes into Friday’s press conference for the first questions to come about defending Lincoln’s freshman sensation Emoni Bates. Defense has been the Cubs’ strength as it’s worked through this season’s player absences, adding to the intrigue of Saturday’s matchup.

Jesuit has kept teams to 50 or fewer points 13 times this winter, including four times during the postseason. The Cubs held a usually strong-shooting Okemos team to 21 percent from the floor and outrebounded the Chiefs 34-24 including 28-7 on Jesuit’s side of the court.  

The Cubs scored the game’s first seven points and led by double digits for good by 1:35 to go in the first quarter. They made 55 percent of their shots from the floor for the game, including 7-of-8 during a second quarter that saw them extend the lead from 13 to 21 points.

“They’re a really deep team. They have a lot of threats outside and inside, and we never really played a team that big before,” said Okemos senior forward Evan Thomas, who led the Chiefs with 13 points and six rebounds. “It was definitely a big challenge to stop them inside, then they’d start hitting outside shots too and it just piled on. I think we worked hard and did what we could.”

Eleven players scored for Jesuit, with senior guard Jordan Montgomery leading with 17 points. Senior center Jalen Thomas added 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting and 11 rebounds, and senior guard Daniel Friday made 5-of-6 shots for 10 points.

Five Cubs had at least three assists.

“It’s been a very interesting year in terms of starting lineups and who we’ve had available off the bench,” Jesuit coach Pat Donnelly said. “This stretch … we’ve had that opportunity to build chemistry, and that’s what I like. I remember looking down at the stat sheet in the first half and we had 15 field goals on 10 assists. These guys are unselfish. They play the right way.

They move the basketball. They don’t care who’s scoring.”

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) U-D Jesuit’s Julian Dozier defends Okemos’ Evan Thomas during Friday’s second Division 1 Semifinal. (Middle) The Cubs’ Jordan Montgomery (3) and Chiefs’ Mason Kaczmarek go after a loose ball.

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.