Breslin Bound: 2021-22 Girls District Preview
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
February 28, 2022
As February ends and March begins this week, so does the most “Breslin Bound” portion of our girls basketball season.
District tournaments tip off all over the state tonight. Check out “Tracking the Tournament” on MHSAA.com for every matchup from all of them, and see below for some of last week’s most eye-catching scores and three Districts in each division that could make the biggest impacts this week on the overall postseason pictures.
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Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Bloomfield Hills Marian 53, Detroit Renaissance 34 The Mustangs (14-6) continued their late-season surge with a win over the Phoenix (14-6) in the Operation Friendship matchup of Detroit Catholic League and Public School League champions.
2. Midland Dow 56, Flint Carman-Ainsworth 45 The Chargers (19-1) clinched a share of what turned into the outright Saginaw Valley League title, with this the only SVL defeat for Carman-Ainsworth (16-4).
3. Hartland 63, Howell 48 The Eagles (19-1) won the third meeting this winter with the Highlanders (15-5) to take a 2-1 season lead and clinch the overall Kensington Lakes Activities Association Tournament championship.
4. Bloomingdale 30, Hartford 29 The Cardinals (19-1) clinched a share of the eventually outright Southwest 10 Conference title by avenging an earlier six-point loss to Hartford (17-3).
5. Detroit Edison 67, Farmington Hills Mercy 44 The Pioneers (12-3) rolled into the Division 2 postseason with three wins over strong Division 1 teams, this against Mercy (16-4) the first of the final week’s run.
Districts at a Glance
These could be among our most competitive brackets. Host sites are in bold:
1. Dexter (18-2), 2. South Lyon East (18-2), Brighton (13-7), South Lyon (9-10), Ann Arbor Skyline (4-14).
The Dreadnaughts bring an 11-game winning streak and undefeated run through the Southeastern Conference Red into this week, with 15 of their wins by double digits. Dexter is No. 7 overall in Division 1 MPR, and South Lyon East slotted No. 18 after a perfect run through the Lakes Valley Conference and 12 straight victories – with no win of their 18 total by fewer than 13 points. Brighton finished fourth in the Kensington Lakes Activities Association West dominated by Hartland and Howell (see below), a combined four losses to those two and also four of their defeats total by only five points or fewer.
1. Hartland (19-1), 2. Howell (15-5), Linden (15-5), Fenton (10-10), Holly (0-18).
Hartland finished No. 4 overall in Division 1 MPR, and Howell at No. 10. They split the KLAA West title, and Hartland won the regular-season series 2-1, capped with a 63-48 win in last week’s KLAA overall championship game (also noted above). The Highlanders’ 37-31 win in their first meeting Jan. 11 was the Eagles’ only loss of this season. All of that said, Linden will try to break into the conversation coming out of finishing second in the Flint Metro League Stripes and with four of its five losses to teams that finished 16-4 or better.
1. West Bloomfield (18-1), 2. Bloomfield Hills Marian (14-6), North Farmington (11-8), Birmingham Seaholm (14-4), Birmingham Groves (9-10), Bloomfield Hills (3-16).
West Bloomfield reaffirmed itself as a Division 1 championship favorite two weeks ago in handing Detroit Edison its first in-state loss in four years. The Lakers slotted No. 6 in the final Division 1 MPR with their only defeat in their season opener to Dexter. But Marian’s profile has risen significantly over the last two weeks as the Mustangs have come from finishing fourth in a strong Detroit Catholic League Central to defeating the first and second-place teams in claiming the Bishop Tournament championship and then downing Renaissance (see above) to cap the regular season. Birmingham Seaholm also is a league champion, from the Oakland Activities Association Blue, and Groves defeated Seaholm in December.
1. Chelsea (17-3), 2. Tecumseh (18-2), Onsted (14-6), Milan (6-12), Hillsdale (3-17), Adrian (2-16).
Chelsea was undefeated in winning the SEC White, with Tecumseh’s only losses to the Bulldogs – 64-40 and 69-48. Chelsea did close with a 52-36 loss to Dexter last week, but that defeat ended a 12-game winning streak that had included wins over Battle Creek Lakeview (18-1) and Grass Lake (14-5). As noted, Tecumseh otherwise was undefeated this regular season – including with a 67-34 win over Onsted on Jan. 6. Onsted tied for second in the Lenawee County Athletic Association, and all of its defeats this winter were to teams that finished 14-6 or better.
1. Saginaw Swan Valley (16-4), 2. Freeland (15-5), Midland Bullock Creek (13-7), Essexville Garber (13-7), Bay City John Glenn (5-15), Saginaw Arthur Hill (4-13), Carrollton (2-18).
Swan Valley and Freeland tied for second in the Tri-Valley Conference 8, splitting their regular-season meetings with Freeland winning 45-25 in last week’s rematch. Garber finished fourth in the TVC-8 with a combined six of its losses to those two and league champion Frankenmuth. Bullock Creek also has a chance to shake things up a bit; in addition to finishing fourth in the TVC-10, the Lancers fell by only four in overtime to Freeland in last season’s District (which the Falcons went on to win by also defeating Swan Valley and John Glenn).
1. Portland (19-1), 2. Lansing Catholic (17-2), Ionia (11-8), Hastings (12-8), Lake Odessa Lakewood (5-14), Lansing Eastern (3-15).
The Raiders are the reigning Division 2 champions, and their only loss came to Lansing Catholic 55-52 on Jan. 14 – which Portland avenged Feb. 18, 53-41. Portland finished No. 3 in the final Division 2 MPR and the Cougars No. 7, as both loaded their regular-season schedules. Portland also had wins over 2021 Division 4 champion Fowler and Division 1 Renaissance, East Lansing and Haslett, plus Chelsea; and Lansing Catholic also owns a win over Haslett plus others against Swan Valley, Detroit Cass Tech and Ann Arbor Father Gabriel Richard. Ionia was fourth behind those co-champs of the Capital Area Activities Conference White, and Hastings finished fourth in another strong league, the Interstate 8 Athletic Conference.
1. Calumet (17-2), 2. Hancock (16-4), Ishpeming Westwood (13-6) Ishpeming (10-8), Gwinn (1-18).
Calumet sits No. 3 and Hancock No. 9 in final Division 3 MPR, the Copper Kings having swept the Bulldogs in winning the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference West title. One of Hancock’s other two losses came to Westwood, which shared the West-PAC East championship with Negaunee but must open Wednesday against Calumet. Ishpeming is an interesting potential stopper with eight wins over its last 10 games including a 42-37 victory over Westwood in their second meeting of the season Feb. 5.
1. Reese (16-4), 2. New Lothrop (15-5), Montrose (9-11), Flint Beecher (13-5), Vassar (6-14), Burton Madison Academy (4-9).
The Rockets have won nine of their last 10, and three of their defeats were to teams highlighted among the larger-school divisions in this report (Dexter, Swan Valley and Freeland). They won a solid Greater Thumb Conference West and are looking to add to a Division 3 volleyball championship won in the fall. New Lothrop finished second only to Division 2 Ovid-Elsie (19-1) in the Mid-Michigan Activities Conference, and the Hornets have won eight of their last 10 with three of their defeats to teams that won league titles. Beecher was runner-up in the Genesee Area Conference Red.
Traverse City St. Francis
1. Maple City Glen Lake (20-0), 2. Elk Rapids (18-2), Traverse City St. Francis (14-6), Benzie Central (10-10), Grand Traverse Academy (11-5), Mancelona (6-13).
The Lakers finished their second-straight perfect regular season and are looking to build on last year’s Quarterfinal fun. The Northwest Conference champions have wins over Elk Rapids, St. Francis and Benzie Central, although those over the Elks and Gladiators were in December. Elk Rapids was first and St. Francis third in the Lake Michigan Conference, with the Elks on an 11-game winning streak since its only other defeat, to Harbor Springs (18-2). Grand Traverse Academy has won nine of its last 10 and opens with Benzie Central.
1. Athens (19-1), 2. Colon (16-4), Mendon (17-3), Burr Oak (8-10), Tekonsha (2-17).
Athens is No. 5 in Division 4 MPR and didn’t lose again after falling to No. 4 Adrian Lenawee Christian in its season opener. That 19-game winning streak included a pair over Colon on the way to winning the Southern Central Athletic Association West. The Magi’s other defeats came to Pittsford (17-3) and Division 3 Schoolcraft (19-1) as it finished second in the SCAA West. Mendon will be representing the best from the Southwest 10 Conference after finishing third in that league with losses only to champion Bloomingdale (19-1) and runner-up Hartford (17-3).
1. Portland St. Patrick (20-0), 2. Fowler (17-3), Lansing Christian (11-9), Morrice (11-5), Fulton (1-18), Webberville (3-16).
The winner of this District will be a favorite to win it all. Fowler is the reigning Division 4 champion and No. 3 in Division 4 MPR, and Portland St. Patrick is No. 2 and defeated the Eagles 53-49 and 58-51 in overtime during the regular season. St. Pat’s also has wins over Lansing Christian and Morrice, and Fowler defeated top-ranked Plymouth Christian Academy 43-35 on Jan. 10. The Eagles only other loss was to Division 2 reigning champion Portland.
1. Pickford (16-2), 2. Mackinaw City (17-3), Cedarville (8-11).
Yes, there are only three teams in this District, but some exciting possibilities from whichever emerges from it. Pickford won the Eastern Upper Peninsula Athletic Conference with a perfect league record and its only losses to Division 3 St. Ignace (18-2). Two of Mackinaw City’s losses also were to the Saints, as the Comets were perfect in Northern Lakes Conference play with the only other defeat to Indian River Inland Lakes (12-8). Cedarville will be looking to avenge a Jan. 17 loss to Mackinaw City, and all of the Islanders’ defeats were to teams with winning records – including five with records of 16-2 or better.
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PHOTO Reese, here against Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker, is among contenders facing a strong District field this week. (Photo by Terry Lyons.)
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.