Breslin Bound: 2021-22 Girls Report Week 10
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
February 7, 2022
Things may be winding down on the girls basketball regular season – but only in the fact that there are three weeks remaining until the playoffs begin.
Parma Western earned one of the most eye-popping wins of the winter last week, and this week may well feature two of the top matchups of this entire regular season.
“Breslin Bound” is powered by MI Student Aid and based on results and schedules posted for each school at MHSAA.com.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Parma Western 56, Ypsilanti Arbor Prep 55 The Panthers (14-1) handed Division 3 powerhouse Ypsilanti Arbor Prep (12-1) its lone defeat and just second game decided by single digits.
2. Portland St. Patrick 58, Fowler 51 (OT) The Shamrocks (14-0) strengthened their status as Division 4 contenders by completing a regular-season sweep of league rival and reigning Division 4 champ Fowler (11-2).
3. Harbor Springs 57, Traverse City St. Francis 47 The Lake Michigan Conference has four teams within two wins of each other at the top of the standings, and Harbor Springs (14-1) has a slim lead on the field after this win over the Gladiators (10-4).
4. Grass Lake 61, Detroit Renaissance 57 The reigning Division 3 champ Warriors (9-4) would have been excused for falling back after losing their top player to a season-ending injury in December, but this win over the 2021 Division 1 runner-up Phoenix (10-4) reaffirmed Grass Lake as a challenger.
5. St. Ignace 47, Sault Ste. Marie 36 The Saints (13-2) avenged a 51-29 loss to the Blue Devils (11-4) from Dec. 16 to move into first alone in the Straits Area Conference.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
Farmington Hills Mercy (12-2) The Marlins enter the final week of Detroit Catholic League Central play tied for first after avenging their lone league loss, to co-leader Dearborn Divine Child (14-1), on Jan. 28. Mercy’s only other defeat came in December to Brighton (9-5), and the Marlins sit second in Division 1 MPR behind only reigning champion Hudsonville.
Rockford (13-1) The Rams are No. 3 in Division 1 MPR, helping to make Friday’s rematch at top-ranked Hudsonville one of the state’s biggest games of the entire season. The Eagles won the first meeting 62-48 on Jan. 14, but the Rams otherwise have piled up impressive victories over Byron Center (11-2), Grand Rapids Catholic Central (11-3), Grand Rapids West Catholic (13-1) and Holland West Ottawa (10-4) among others.
Chelsea (11-2) The Bulldogs have a 1½-game lead in the Southeastern Conference White after handing second-place Tecumseh its only loss and with that rematch coming up Feb. 22. Chelsea’s only defeats were to reigning Division 2 champ Portland (13-1) and Marshall (10-5), and it has wins over Freeland (11-4), Riverview (11-4), Stockbridge (10-4) and Grass Lake (9-4) among others.
Redford Westfield Prep (15-1) In its third year as a program, Westfield is a contender with an impressive set of wins and its only loss 54-51 to Arbor Prep (see above). The Warriors defeated Detroit Cass Tech and Kalamazoo Central by double digits most recently, with wins as well over Dexter (12-2), Riverview (11-4), Grand Blanc (10-4), Hart (12-2) and Rochester Hills Stoney Creek (11-4).
Kent City (15-0) The Eagles’ only loss last season was by two to Grass Lake in the Division 3 Final, and they haven’t slowed a bit under first-year coach Aleah Holcomb despite also graduating two of the state’s most prolific 3-point shooters of the last few seasons. Friday’s 50-38 win over second-place Morley Stanwood (11-3) put Kent City a win from clinching a share of the Central State Activities Association Silver title. The Eagles also have wins over Grand Rapids Christian (10-4) and Sparta (11-2).
McBain (14-2) The Ramblers are a combined 28-3 over the last two seasons and looking to finish a Highland Conference championship run after sharing last season’s title with Lake City. McBain lost to Lake City 44-42 on Jan. 18 but have a half-game lead in the standings with the rematch with the Trojans (13-1) set for Feb. 17. McBain’s only other defeat was in the season opener to Big Rapids (9-5), and last week the Ramblers finished a regular-season sweep of Northern Michigan Christian (10-3).
Bellaire (9-4) Last season’s Division 4 runner-up navigated a rough stretch early, finishing December with three straight losses. But over the last two weeks the Eagles have avenged all three including handing Gaylord St. Mary (13-2) its lone league defeat, 36-25 on Feb. 2. Lake City (13-1) and Mackinaw City (14-1) will present challenges over the next two weeks, and Bellaire also will get a chance to avenge its fourth defeat with a rematch against Johannesburg-Lewiston (9-3) on Feb. 15.
Colon (11-2) The Magi are riding a two-season District title run and have a chance to affect the Southern Central Athletic Association West race this week with a rematch Thursday against Athens – which defeated Colon on Jan. 14. The Magi’s only other loss was two weeks ago to Pittsford (8-3), and they have a slim lead after Athens for the second seed in their District – with an important opportunity to up their MPR at Schoolcraft (12-1) on Feb. 16.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – Howell (11-3) at Hartland (13-1) – Howell won the first meeting 37-31 on Jan. 11 to take its current one-game lead in the Kensington Lakes Activities Association West.
Tuesday – Sparta (11-2) at Belding (12-1) – Both are undefeated in Ottawa-Kent Conference Silver play and will see each other again less than a week later, Feb. 14.
Friday – Rockford (13-1) at Hudsonville (12-2) – As noted above, the Eagles lead the O-K Red and handed second-place Rockford its only defeat.
Friday – Detroit Edison (6-2) at Ypsilanti Arbor Prep (12-1) – These two could make strong arguments to be the favorites in Divisions 2 and 3, respectively, as the postseason approaches.
Friday – Saginaw Swan Valley (13-2) at Frankenmuth (12-1) – The Eagles’ 42-30 win over the Vikings on Jan. 7 remains the difference at the top of the Tri-Valley Conference 8 race.
Second Half’s weekly “Breslin Bound” previews and reviews are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Office of Postsecondary Financial Planning located within the Michigan Department of Treasury. MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 college savings programs (MET/MESP), as well as scholarship and grant programs that help make college Accessible, Affordable and Attainable for you. Connect with MI Student Aid at www.michigan.gov/mistudentaid and find more information on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.
PHOTO Flint Carman-Ainsworth defenders create a wall near the basket during last week’s 56-40 win over Davison. (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.