Bowers Finds Shot Just in Time to Lead Kent City Back to D3 Finale

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for

March 17, 2022

EAST LANSING – Kent City junior guard Lexie Bowers didn’t waste any time breaking out of a rare shooting slump.

After struggling offensively in her team’s Quarterfinal, Bowers redeemed herself with an impressive shooting performance two days later.

Bowers scored a game-high 22 points to help lead the Eagles to a 47-30 win over Madison Heights Bishop Foley in Thursday’s second Division 3 Semifinal at the Breslin Center.

The unbeaten Eagles (26-0) with return to the Finals for the second consecutive year and play Ypsilanti Arbor Prep at 4 p.m. Saturday.

The Gators (24-2) defeated previously-unbeaten Glen Lake in the other Semifinal, 57-44.

“I haven't had a good shooting night in a while, and I knew coming in that I was going to have to pick up my shooting because that’s what I am, a shooter,” said Bowers, who had a season-low six points in a one-point win over Schoolcraft in the Quarterfinal.

“I was more calm (today), which is weird because I'm in the Breslin, but I set my feet more and I just had a lot more confidence in myself. I just let it go.”

Bowers drained three of her five 3-pointers during the second quarter as Kent City shrugged off a slow start to lead 30-13 at the half.

“We started hitting shots in the second quarter, and our offense started moving,” Eagles coach Aleah Holcomb said. “Our shooting percentage was great in the first half, and I was very happy with how well we played tonight. We hit a lot of shots, and defensively we shut them down and played good team defense.”

Kent City/Bishop Foley basketballBishop Foley coach Ray Joseph was impressed by Bowers’ shooting prowess.

“She was on fire, and she was hitting all kinds of shots,” Joseph said. “We put someone on her to try and slow her down, and it worked for a little bit. She didn’t score that much more in the second half than the first. She’s a good player.”

One of Bowers’ most memorable moments in the game happened in the fourth quarter when she was knocked down attempting a 3-pointer.

“No, I didn't see it go in,” Bowers said. “I just got hit and then everybody was around me and I was like, ‘What, did I make it?’ Yeah, it was crazy, but it was a good shot.”

Bowers converted the free throw for a four-point play to give the Eagles a commanding 42-23 lead. 

“We all played really hard, and it's taken a lot of hard work to get to this point and we are just really glad to be back,” Bowers said. “The two-point loss in the state finals last year has been motivation and made us work even harder.”

Kent City sophomore Madelyn Geers played well on both ends of the court. She made 7 of 13 shots and finished with 16 points, a game-high 14 rebounds and four blocked shots.

Bishop Foley, which was led by Ryan Moorer’s seven points and 10 rebounds, made its first trip to the Semifinals in school history.

The Ventures (20-4) weren’t able to recover from being outscored 20-7 in the second quarter.

“It was a tough game, and in the first half we really didn't play our game,” Joseph said. “In the second half we played them pretty evenly, but they had the height on us and got a lot of rebounds. We didn't quit, and we fought till the end.”

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS (Top) Kent City’s Emmalyn Geers (41) sets a screen on Bishop Foley’s Ryan Moorer (23) as the Eagles get into their offense Thursday at Breslin Center. (Middle) Bishop Foley’s Melanie Moore (34) works for position against Geers. (Click for more from Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)

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.