Breslin Bound: 2022-23 Girls Report Post-Break
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
January 9, 2023
School’s back in session, snow has mostly stayed away as of late, and basketball barely took a breather during another holiday break that saw several of the state’s best girls teams test themselves in preparation for the grind to come over the next two months.
Our post-break report below highlights some of the most intriguing action over the last three weeks – including a new record holder for career coaching wins – and previews games to keep an eye on this week as we get rolling into calendar year 2023.
“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. Chelsea 59, Ypsilanti Arbor Prep 50 (OT) Just as most schools were getting out or preparing to do so Dec. 21, Chelsea (8-1) handed Arbor Prep (5-2) its first in-state loss since Feb. 18.
2. Sandusky 42, Unionville-Sebewaing 28 Sandusky improved to 8-2 as coach Al DeMott became the all-time winningest in MHSAA girls basketball history with 798 victories.
3. West Bloomfield 86, Chicago Kenwood Academy (Ill.) The Lakers (7-2) held on in overtime at the Motor City Roundball Classic against a top team from Illinois.
4. Northville 42, Traverse City Central 22 The Mustangs (8-1) highlighted their holiday showcase by handing the Trojans (7-1) their only loss this season.
5. Lowell 54, Redford Westfield Prep 50 The Red Arrows are 8-0 with a pair of four-point wins mixed in, including this one on Westfield Prep’s home court during the Motor City.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
Detroit Renaissance (7-0) The Phoenix already have piled up notable wins under first-year coach Dashaun Wood, including 41-39 over Wayne Memorial early and more recently 66-54 over Detroit Country Day and 67-46 over East Kentwood. The Phoenix’s remaining schedule includes more intriguing nonleague matchups against Grand Blanc, Muskegon and East Grand Rapids plus a league meeting with Detroit Cass Tech.
Rockford (7-1) After reaching the Division 1 Semifinals and falling by just three points to eventual champion West Bloomfield last season, Rockford is off and running with its only loss to reigning Division 2 runner-up Grand Rapids West Catholic. The Rams opened this winter by handing Ada Forest Hills Eastern what remains its lone loss, and Rockford also has solid victories over Holland Christian, Byron Center and Detroit Country Day.
Frankenmuth (6-1) Only an opening-night loss to Lake Fenton (see below) has kept the Eagles from a perfect start, and wins over Grand Blanc and Imlay City have highlighted the ensuing run. Frankenmuth also kicked off Tri-Valley Conference 8 play Friday with a key 42-39 victory over Saginaw Swan Valley, which tied with Freeland for second behind the Eagles last season. The first Freeland matchup is this Friday.
Lake Fenton (8-0) Beginning with the 46-36 season-opening win over Frankenmuth, Lake Fenton has rolled to eight double-digit victories including also handing the only loss so far to Grosse Pointe North, 51-33 – and after GPN was one of just four teams to defeat Lake Fenton a year ago. Wins over Detroit Public School League contenders Mumford and Cass Tech also are impressive, and the Blue Devils can make another massive statement tonight hosting Arbor Prep.
Evart (8-1) The Wildcats also are undefeated since a season-opening loss, to Sanford Meridian, with the best wins 61-44 over McBain and 42-40 over Lake City after losing to them a combined five times last season including to McBain in their District Final. Evart is pacing the Highland Conference after finishing fourth a year ago, with its first matchup Wednesday against McBain Northern Michigan Christian – the only other team to defeat the Wildcats in 2021-22.
Sanford Meridian (8-1) The Mustangs are early co-leaders in the Jack Pine Conference, with a first matchup against the other first-place team Farwell coming up Friday. The early work has been exceptional; following the 60-52 win over Evart, Meridian took all of their next five games by at least 39 points and earned a rare win over Freeland 46-40. The only loss was 40-38 in overtime to Marysville at the SC4 Holiday Showcase.
Baraga (7-1) After reaching the Division 4 Semifinals last season, Baraga has been flawless aside from Friday’s 66-52 loss to highly-regarded Division 2 Houghton. The Vikings escaped their season opener against Ontonagon 42-38, but hadn’t won by fewer than 21 points since until that first defeat. That 21-point win was over Lake Linden-Hubbell, another Copper Mountain Conference team otherwise making some early noise in Division 4. Baraga hosts one-loss Calumet on Tuesday.
Mackinaw City (8-0) It’s even better than business as usual for the Comets, who are coming off an 18-4 season and already this winter have avenged two of those losses in downing Indian River Inland Lakes by 19 and Pickford by 32. The Inland Lakes win clinched Mackinaw City’s Christmas Tournament title, and the Comets also won an impressive early showdown with Cedarville and finished last week by handing the second defeat this winter to Burt Lake Northern Michigan Christian.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Monday – Ypsilanti Arbor Prep (5-2) at Lake Fenton (8-0) – Arbor Prep is No. 1 in Division 3 Michigan Power Rating (MPR) among teams with at least six games played, while Lake Fenton is No. 3 in Division 2.
Tuesday – Hudsonville (6-2) at Holland West Ottawa (9-0) – West Ottawa won its first 10 games last season before ending 15-8 after rolling through the tough Ottawa-Kent Conference Red. Reigning league champion Hudsonville may give the Panthers their best test yet.
Tuesday – Jackson Northwest (7-1) at Coldwater (8-0) – Coming off a 34-29 win over reigning Interstate 8 Athletic Conference champion Parma Western, Coldwater takes on another annual contender while enjoying its most impressive run since 2018-19.
Thursday – Maple City Glen Lake (5-0) at Traverse City Central (7-1) – This could be a major statement win for either, as Glen Lake made the Division 3 Semifinals last season and Central lost 49-28 in their regular-season matchup.
Friday – Hancock (8-0) at Escanaba (8-0) – The Eskymos have tough Great Northern Conference matchups Tuesday and Thursday but then end the week with a meeting of undefeated opponents. Escanaba defeated the Bulldogs 58-53 last season.
MHSAA.com'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 Marquette's Cora Anderson (32) is surrounded by Charlevoix's Abby Wright (5), Bayani Collins (21) and Karlee Easton (13) as she heads to the basket during Marquette’s 42-28 win Dec. 29. (Photo by Cara Kamps.)
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.