Breslin Bound: 2022-23 Girls Report Week 2
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
December 12, 2022
Basketball season in Michigan is played over four months, and this season – for the first time – over 22 games, or two more than in seasons past.
In many cases, those additional games will be used by teams to test themselves a few more times against less-familiar opponents, especially early, and we’ve seen a number of intriguing nonleague matchups already this season – some of last week’s best are covered below, and some of this week’s are mentioned as well.
“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. Detroit Renaissance 41, Wayne Memorial 39 These have been two of the state’s best regardless of division the last few seasons, and this win by the Phoenix (2-0) at the Best of Michigan Holiday Classic avenged a 61-44 loss from a year ago.
2. Portland St. Patrick 48, Fowler 40 The Shamrocks (3-1) ran their regular-season winning streak over the reigning Division 4 champion Eagles (2-2) to three to take a quick upper hand in the Central Michigan Athletic Conference.
3. Belleville 69, Detroit Country Day 61 Belleville (2-0) is looking to build on last season’s 13-8 finish, and defeating Country Day (2-2) – a Division 2 semifinalist the last two seasons – also at the Best of Michigan Holiday Classic, is a nice move in that direction.
4. Evart 42, Lake City 40 After losing to Lake City (3-1) by four and one point in last season’s meetings, and Lake City going on to the Division 3 Quarterfinals, this is a big booster for the Wildcats (3-1) as Highland Conference play begins.
5. Imlay City 51, Sandusky 48 The Spartans (5-0) opened the week with a Monday win over Bloomfield Hills Marian and closed it by edging Sandusky (3-2) to win Capac’s Harry Moore Classic.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
East Grand Rapids (4-1) After a series of District and/or 20-game winning seasons, East Grand Rapids cooled to 12-10 last winter. But the Pioneers are tracking among the elite again, with Friday’s 52-41 win over Hudsonville avenging an early loss from a year ago. Their only defeat was 49-41 to again-powerful Grand Rapids West Catholic, and EGR should get another strong test this weekend against Redford Westfield Prep at Aquinas College.
East Kentwood (3-0) The Falcons also came down from a series of superior seasons to finish 12-10 in 2021-22, but they’re surging again as well. They opened with a 43-40 win over Byron Center, avenging last year’s season-opening and District Final defeats, and added double-digit wins last week over Grand Ledge and Muskegon Reeths-Puffer.
Chelsea (4-0) The Bulldogs’ fast start has been one of the most impressive in the state, with double-digit victories over Parma Western, Marshall and Clarkston and a 58-52 win over Freeland. All four won at least 16 games last season, and Marshall defeated Chelsea in an early matchup. The Bulldogs did go on to finish 20-4, and next up this week is Portland – the team that eliminated Chelsea in last year’s Regional Final.
Escanaba (4-0) The Eskymos’ start doesn’t at all resemble the 0-3 beginning to last season, and hasn’t since opening night when Escanaba avenged a pair of 2021-22 losses to Marquette with a 65-50 win. Escanaba since has also avenged two more losses from last season’s 10-10 run with a 66-50 win over Negaunee, and defeated Gaylord St. Mary and McBain to win the latter’s Season Kickoff Tournament.
Cass City (3-0) The Red Hawks improved from 6-9 two seasons ago to 16-5 last winter, and a big win over Sandusky last week gives reason to believe they’re ready to take another step. Cass City lost twice to Sandusky last season, including in a Regional Semifinal, but defeated Sandusky 51-49 in overtime last Tuesday. Cass City’s opening 61-42 win over Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary remains MLS’s only loss as well.
Oscoda (3-1) The Owls have strung together five seasons of solid-to-outstanding finishes, and early on this looks like a possible number six. Oscoda opened with a 57-53 loss to Alpena, but then defeated Division 1 Bay City Central and Midland before handing Cedarville its second defeat of the season. The Owls had lost to both Bay City Central and Cedarville in going 15-7 last winter.
Ewen-Trout Creek (3-0) The Panthers were a solid 14-8 a season ago and have been among the most notable in Division 4 over the last half-decade. This season’s early run should be creating plenty of anticipation as well, as Ewen-Trout Creek have avenged last-year losses to Dollar Bay and Ironwood with wins of 20 and 16 points, respectively. The Panthers finish this week at Ontonagon, which defeated them twice last winter.
Brethren (4-0) Starting with 2018-19, the Bobcats won three, four, five and then 11 games, respectively, heading into this winter. They’re on their way to continuing that improvement with a fast start that’s included all double-digit victories – including 60-21 over Mesick, which split its meetings with Brethren last season on the way to sharing the West Michigan D League title.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Monday – Flint Carman-Ainsworth (3-0) at Dearborn Divine Child (4-0) – These two combined for 37 wins last season and have six double-digit victories between them this winter.
Tuesday – Portland (3-1) at Chelsea (4-0) – As noted above, this is a Regional Final rematch after Portland won that playoff meeting 47-22 and also a regular-season matchup 53-36.
Wednesday – Grosse Pointe North (4-0) at Lake Fenton (3-0) – Both made Regional Finals a season ago and have impressive early wins, GPN over Country Day and Lake Fenton over Frankenmuth.
Friday – Williamston (3-1) at Haslett (4-0) – These two shared the Capital Area Activities Conference Red title last year and could be among the state-ranked in Division 2 as well this winter.
Saturday – West Bloomfield (1-1) vs. Ypsilanti Arbor Prep (1-1) at Detroit Renaissance – The reigning Division 1 and 3 champions, respectively, will meet at the Phoenix Shootout.
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PHOTO Goodrich’s Kayla Hairston gets up a shot during a season-opening 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.