1,000-Point Pair Pacing Another John Glenn Contender

By Paul Costanzo
Special for MHSAA.com

March 3, 2021

Abi Tarrant knew how close Carly McCrum was to 1,000 career points and wanted to make sure her Bay City John Glenn teammate’s accomplishment was celebrated. 

On Feb. 17, when McCrum achieved the milestone in a victory against Alma, the John Glenn fans in attendance cheered the moment while waving homemade signs, which they had been carrying thanks in large part to an effort spearheaded by Tarrant.

“Last year, I broke the (school career) rebound record, and all of the student section, everybody made posters, and it was a huge moment for me,” Tarrant said. “I knew she was getting her 1,000 points that week, so I wanted her to have the same type of environment. Even though the student section wasn’t there, she could still have that kind of energy from the crowd when she hit it.”

It was only after the celebration for McCrum subsided that Tarrant realized just how close she was to the same milestone: 16 points.

“I knew exactly where she was because I had been planning the poster thing,” Tarrant said. “(One thousand points) kind of snuck up on me. I didn’t know I was that close to her. But in the game it happened, I knew.”

Tarrant achieved her own milestone the next time out, a John Glenn victory on Feb. 19 against Birch Run, giving the Bobcats a pair of 1,000-point scorers in the same class.

McCrum now sits at 1,053 career points and Tarrant has 1,046 as they have led the Bobcats to a 7-1 start to the season and a top-five ranking in The Associated Press Division 2 poll. Their lone loss came in double overtime against Frankenmuth, another top-five team.

Bay City John Glenn girls basketball 2“I just thought it was a really cool experience,” McCrum said. “We’ve both been on varsity since our freshmen year, and we’ve played with each other on the same travel team, so it was very cool that we hit it in the same week. We both feel like this team is really special, and our goal is to win a state championship.”

Tarrant and McCrum became the seventh and eighth players in school history to hit the 1,000-point mark. It’s the second time John Glenn has had classmates reach the milestone, joining 2016 graduates Jenai LaPorte (1,547 points) and Cassidy Boensch (1,403). Boensch did play her first two seasons at Au Gres-Sims. 

“I’ve been really spoiled,” John Glenn coach Cory Snider said. “Three of those 1,000-point scorers (LaPorte, Boensch and 2017 graduate Kalle Martinez) were all on the same team. The five kids I’ve had (reach 1,000 points) have all been on the same teams, so that’s a really unique situation. You don’t hear of that a whole lot. They make me look way smarter than I am.”

McCrum and Tarrant are both four-year varsity players for Snider, and for McCrum, it was clear early on that she would become another of the school’s great scorers. She was the team’s leading scorer during her freshman (14 points per game) and sophomore (14.2) seasons.

“Carly has been the steady, calm influence on our team for four years,” Snider said. “It’s pretty incredible to be able to come in as a freshman and give us (14.2) points per game when she was (the focus) on everybody’s scouting report her freshman year.”

McCrum said it was a role she was comfortable with, as she had taken it on through middle school as a travel player.

“It wasn’t something really new for me,” said McCrum, a 5-foot-10 guard who has signed with Ferris State. “Probably my freshman year, I did feel some pressure and it got in my head, but it’s gotten a lot better, and I’ve gotten more comfortable with that.”

While she’s thrived in that role, and has established herself as a strong outside shooter, McCrum would rather be the one setting up teammates.

“She has such a high basketball IQ,” Snider said. “She’s more of a true playmaker than a natural scorer. She has a super high basketball IQ and loves to find the open player. She enjoys making an assist as much as she enjoys scoring a basket.”

Bay City John Glenn girls basketball 3While McCrum was filling up the scoresheet early on, Tarrant had to find a different way to make an impact for the Bobcats. Despite her size – she's 5-7 now – that wound up being rebounding.

“Freshman year, I was just kind of in the right place at the right time, and I think that’s a lot of it,” said Tarrant, who is committed to Hope College. “A lot of those are rebounds that the posts don’t want to get, like running out of bounds. I would sneak up behind people to get them – I just always find myself somewhere near it. My dad told me that if you’re not going to score, then you have to do something. I guess I just picked that.”

Tarrant has done that better than anyone in school history, racking up 732 career rebounds. 

“She just played with such a high motor, and she had such a desire to be really good,” Snider said. “Her growth as a player has been incredible from her freshman year to now as a senior. It’s more growth than I’ve seen from any other player. It’s unbelievable.”

Tarrant’s scoring picked up in a big way a year ago, as she averaged 19.4 points per game, setting a junior-year record for points at John Glenn. 

“I think we molded more as a team,” Tarrant said. “We started playing a lot better together. At first, I think it was hard. Freshman year, Carly was the best player through and through, then sophomore year I stepped up my game a little bit. Junior year, we figured out how our games complement each other. This year, we’re playing amazing together.”

With a strong supporting cast surrounding them, McCrum and Tarrant hope to take John Glenn back to the heights it reached not long ago. The Bobcats were a Class B semifinalist in 2016 but have had their season ended by Freeland every year since, including in the District Final the past three seasons.

But they feel this could be the year they add some team trophies to the individual successes they’ve been able to rack up.

“It would mean a lot,” McCrum said. “Abi and I have been on the same team since freshman year. Some of the girls, we have been together since sophomore year. We’ve all been together for a long time. First of all, we want to win Districts. We’ve lost three years in a row to Freeland. I think it would be so awesome. We’ve all been together for so long, and we’ve always talked about going so far.”

Paul Costanzo served as a sportswriter at The Port Huron Times Herald from 2006-15, including three years as lead sportswriter, and prior to that as sports editor at the Hillsdale Daily News from 2005-06. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Sanilac, Huron, Tuscola, Saginaw, Bay, Arenac, Midland and Gladwin counties.

PHOTOS: (Top) Bay City John Glenn’s Abi Tarrant, left, and Carly McCrum make strong moves to the hoop against Alma this season. (Middle) Tarrant focuses for a free throw. (Below) McCrum maintains possession against Freeland. (Photos by Jodi Stopyak.)

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.