Breslin Bound: 2021-22 Girls Report Week 2
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
December 13, 2021
We’re two weeks into this girls basketball season, and it’s not taking long to recognize a few teams that could be in the championship mix in three months.
Midland Dow and Parma Western were among those to continue headline-making starts last week, and another power-packed schedule coming up could vault a few more potential contenders as we move toward the holiday break.
“Breslin Bound” is powered by MI Student Aid and based on results and schedules posted for each school at MHSAA.com. Send corrections or missing scores to [email protected].
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Midland Dow 56, Hudsonville 51 The Chargers (4-0) actually defeated two reigning Finals champions last week – Hudsonville (2-1) on Tuesday in a rematch of last season’s Division 1 Semifinal, and then Division 3 Grass Lake on Saturday.
2. Parma Western 44, East Lansing 43 The Panthers (4-0) handed East Lansing (1-1) its first regular-season loss since Feb. 26, 2019.
3. Portland St. Patrick 46, Pewamo-Westphalia 30 After breaking a 12-game losing streak against the Pirates (3-1) in last season’s lone showdown, the Shamrocks (4-0) made it two straight over their rivals to continue a perfect start.
4. Ypsilanti Arbor Prep 68, Wayne Memorial 41 The Gators (3-0) should again be among Division 3 favorites and made a nice statement with this Best of Michigan Holiday Classic win over the Division 1 Zebras (0-1).
5. Grand Blanc 72, Clarkston 43 Both were District champions last season, and this is a nice early move as the Bobcats (3-1) look to build on last winter’s 12-4 finish.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
Brighton (2-0) The Bulldogs went 15-4 with a District title last season, and they’ve rolled that success back into this winter. After opening with a 59-40 win over Flint Carman-Ainsworth, Brighton on Friday defeated Farmington Hills Mercy 58-32 – Mercy is the reigning Detroit Catholic League Tournament champion and likewise an annual Division 1 force.
Saline (4-0) The Hornets entered this season a combined 40-4 over the last two, with both regular-season defeats during that run to Temperance Bedford. Saline has an upper hand in that Southeastern Conference Red showdown this winter, defeating Bedford 38-29 on Friday, and after opening the week with a 51-44 overtime win over Canton.
Houghton (3-0) Breaking a four-game losing streak against Negaunee could be a great sign for a team that went from 6-15 to 12-6 last season and seemed on the cusp of taking even a few more steps up –four of those losses were by five points or fewer. The Gremlins defeated the Miners 65-56 and also have handed the lone defeats to Ishpeming and L’Anse.
Lansing Catholic (3-0) While the Capital Area Activities Conference White also features reigning Division 2 champion Portland, the Cougars have emerged as another league force winning 13 games and a District title last winter. They’ve more than doubled up their first three opponents, including last week at Detroit Cass Tech.
Cass City (3-0) The Red Hawks are off to a fast start as they seek their first above-.500 finish since 2018-19. After finishing 6-9 last season, Cass City is halfway to equaling that win total and Friday avenged a February loss to North Branch, 39-36. The Red Hawks opened the week with arguably an even more impressive win, 49-30 over Ubly, which went 11-4 last season.
Hartford (3-0) After tying for second place in the Southwest 10 Conference last season and finishing 11-6 overall, Hartford is off to a speedy start and already has avenged two of last winter’s losses – opening with a 36-30 win over Gobles and following with a 45-31 win over Mendon. Gobles had ended Hartford’s 2020-21 season with a four-point Regional loss March 29.
Portland St. Patrick (4-0) While some of their toughest competition may come from also-undefeated league foe Fowler, the Shamrocks may be on their way back into the statewide Division 4 elite. In addition to Division 3 Pewamo-Westphalia (noted above), St. Patrick also has handed lone losses this season to Lansing Christian and Adrian Lenawee Christian – and is winning its games by an average of 25 points per victory.
Rudyard (2-0) The Bulldogs made an early Straits Area Conference splash with a 55-53 win over reigning champion Sault Ste. Marie on Friday, avenging 22 and 15-point losses from last season to the Division 2 Blue Devils. Rudyard has won 11 or 12 games all of the last three seasons, but did finish last winter on a 9-3 run.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Wednesday – Detroit Renaissance (2-0) at Wayne Memorial (0-1) – This is a rematch of a Division 1 Semifinal from last season, won by Renaissance 75-72.
Friday – Parma Western (4-0) at Jackson Northwest (3-1) – Western won both meetings last season and is an emerging Division 1 force, but Northwest has received its share of statewide attention over the years as well.
Friday – Ypsilanti Arbor Prep (3-0) at Plymouth Christian Academy (2-0) – The Eagles made some noise with their first-week win over Detroit Country Day, and a win over Arbor Prep might ring even louder.
Friday – Fowler (4-0) at Portland St. Patrick (4-0) – The Central Michigan Athletic Conference might have two of the top Division 4 teams statewide, and this will be their first meeting of the winter.
Saturday – Detroit Edison (1-1) vs. Hudsonville (2-1) at Aquinas College – This is arguably the premier matchup of the West Michigan Spotlight; Edison is coming off a two-point loss to Indiana power South Bend Washington.
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 Mikayla Sharrow and Charlevoix surged to a 33-22 win over Boyne City. (Photo courtesy of the Petoskey News-Review.)
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.