Breslin Bound: 2021-22 Girls Report Week 8
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
January 24, 2022
With just less than half of this girls basketball regular season remaining, 25 teams (out of 700 teams statewide) are chasing perfection, including 16 that have achieved at least 10-0 records.
Ten of those undefeated teams are mentioned in this week’s “Breslin Bound” report – as are two which recently suffered their first defeat of the winter.
“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. Frankenmuth 63, Midland Dow 60 (OT) The Eagles (9-1), even without a top player on this night, continued to assert themselves as Division 2 contenders by handing Division 1 Dow (9-1) its only loss.
2. Calumet 66, Houghton 49 The Copper Kings (9-0) stand alone as the only undefeated team in the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference after delivering a first loss to the Gremlins (11-1).
3. Dearborn Divine Child 47, Bloomfield Hills Marian 43 Divine Child (11-0) completed the first half of the Detroit Catholic League Central schedule undefeated with this win over the reigning champ Mustangs (7-3).
4. Harbor Springs 49, Elk Rapids 48 The Lake Michigan Conference ended the week with a three-way tie atop the standings after Elk Rapids (7-2) defeated Traverse City St. Francis (8-3) on Tuesday, and Harbor Springs (10-1) then edged the Elks on Friday.
5. Paw Paw 46, Otsego 43 The Red Wolves (8-2) moved to the top of the competitive Wolverine Conference North and sent Otsego (10-2) into second.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
Grosse Pointe North (9-1) Three Macomb Area Conference Red teams have won nine games, and Grosse Pointe North and Macomb Dakota are both undefeated in league play heading into Tuesday’s matchup. North is the reigning Red champ and went 13-4 overall a year ago, losing twice to rival Grosse Pointe South – with the Norsemen winning their first matchup this season 56-41 on Jan. 11. North handed Macomb L’Anse Creuse North (11-1) its only defeat and also has wins over Port Huron (9-4), Utica Ford (9-3) and St. Clair Shores Lakeview (8-3) and an impressive loss to Farmington Hills Mercy (9-2).
Hudsonville (9-2) After winning the Division 1 championship last April with only one senior starter, the Eagles are gathering steam as expected with their only losses to Midland Dow (see above) and Division 2 power Detroit Edison. Hudsonville handed Rockford its lone loss, 62-48, on Jan. 14, and will face Holland West Ottawa on Friday potentially for the lead in the Ottawa-Kent Conference Red (although Rockford could change the narrative facing West Ottawa on Tuesday, while Hudsonville must hold off Jenison). The Eagles also own a 79-51 win over reigning Division 3 champ Grass Lake and edged O-K White leader Byron Center 59-56 in overtime.
Grand Rapids West Catholic (10-1) The Falcons are a combined 49-3 over the last three seasons and on the move again after suffering their only loss last season in a Regional Final to eventual Finals runner-up Newaygo. West Catholic is one game ahead of the field as it pursues a third-straight O-K Blue championship, with that lone defeat 50-46 to Rockford (10-1). West Catholic delivered O-K Silver co-leader Sparta its only defeat, on Dec. 10.
Lake Fenton (9-0) The Blue Devils are seeking to repeat as league champions in the Flint Metro League Stars and are tied for first with Goodrich. The first meeting between the two finishes off the first half of the league schedule tonight. No other opponent, league or non, has gotten closer than 17 points to catching Lake Fenton, which is giving up only 26 points per game.
Blissfield (9-3) The Royals are playing for a first league championship since 2016-17, and they made the Lenawee County Athletic Association a three-team race with Friday’s 42-36 win over Onsted (8-4). Those two and Brooklyn Columbia Central are tied at the top of the standings with the second round of league games to play. Columbia Central (8-2) defeated Blissfield 41-21 on Dec. 10; the rematch is Tuesday. The Royals’ other losses were similarly strong, to Erie Mason (9-3) and Tecumseh (11-0).
Hart (9-1) The Pirates control their destiny in the West Michigan Conference as they pursue their first league title in at least a decade. After finishing second to Montague the last two seasons, Hart sits a game ahead heading into the second half of the league schedule thanks in part to a 37-36 win over the Wildcats on Jan. 11. The Pirates’ lone loss came to Division 2 contender Redford Westfield Prep on Dec. 4; Montague is the only other opponent to get closer than 12 points.
Adrian Lenawee Christian (8-3) The Cougars’ cast is different after graduating significant standouts over the last few seasons, but the results have remained similar. Lenawee Christian has six wins over teams with winning records, having handed Athens what remains the opening-night opponent’s lone defeat. The Cougars also defeated Division 2 Onsted (8-4) last week, and their losses are to Division 4 undefeated Portland St. Patrick, Division 1 Temperance Bedford and Division 2 Chelsea.
Mackinaw City (11-0) The Comets have won between 18-23 games the last three seasons, so success is nothing new. But they are lining up well for an opportunity to take the next step. Mackinaw City is again leading the Northern Lakes Conference as it pursues what would be a fourth-straight championship, and the Comets already have avenged one of their two defeats during last season’s 18-2 run in downing Cedarville 73-46 last week. The other team to defeat Mackinaw City last season, St. Ignace, crosses the Bridge on Saturday.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – Saline (10-0) at Dexter (7-2) – These two are tied for first in the Southeastern Conference Red, with the rest of the league’s teams all with two or more defeats.
Tuesday – Detroit Edison (4-1) at Parma Western (11-0) – The Pioneers have had nearly as many games canceled as played, but bring a win over East Lansing from last week into this challenge.
Tuesday – Rockford (10-1) at Holland West Ottawa (10-0) – Before the Panthers can think about Hudsonville (see above), they’ll need to avenge two 2021 losses to the Rams.
Wednesday – Hartford (9-0) at Watervliet (8-0) – A pair of league leaders face off in what could be a Regional preview.
Friday – Dearborn Divine Child (11-0) at Farmington Hills Mercy (9-2) – Divine Child also must get past Ann Arbor Father Gabriel Richard on Tuesday, but could be playing Mercy to all but clinch the Central title.
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 Mesick’s Kayla McCoy brings the ball upcourt this season. Mesick is 8-2, having already eclipsed last season’s seven victories. (Photo courtesy of the Mesick girls basketball program.)
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.