Breslin Bound: Girls C-D Semifinals Preview

March 13, 2013

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half

Flint Northern, from 1978-81 in Class A, is the only school in MHSAA history to win four straight Girls Basketball Finals championships. 

Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes can become the next to achieve that feat by claiming the Class D title this weekend.

The Lakers' pursuit will be one of the most followed storylines at Michigan State University's Breslin Center. Class C and D Semifinals are Thursday, with all four championships games Saturday.

Semifinals - Thursday
Class C
Manchester (25-1) vs. Riverview Gabriel Richard (16-7), 1 p.m. 
Saginaw Nouvel (24-2) vs. Houghton (23-2), 2:50 p.m. 

Class D
St. Ignace (25-0) vs Climax-Scotts (20-5), 6 p.m. 
Athens (22-3) vs Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes (20-4), 7:50 p.m.

Finals - Saturday
Class A - Noon
Class B - 6 pm
Class C - 4 pm 
Class D - 10 am 

Tickets cost $8 per pair of Semifinals and $10 per two-game Finals session. All Semifinals will be streamed live on and available on a pay-per-view basis for $3.95 per day, $6.95 for the weekend or $9.95 for all girls and boys Semifinals over the next two weekends. All four Finals will be broadcast live on Fox Sports Detroit. Free radio broadcasts of all weekend games will be available on

And now, a look at the Semifinalists in Class C and D. 

Class C

Record/rank: 23-2, tied for No. 7
League finish: First in Western Peninsula Athletic Conference
Coach: Julie Filpus, 14th season (307-34) 
Championship history: Class C champion (2005).
Best wins: 61-47 and 64-62 over Calumet, 76-41 and 58-42 (District Final) over L’Anse, 67-36 over Ishpeming (Regional Final), 56-47 over Shelby (Quarterfinal).
Players to watch: Elisa Jurmu, 5-8 jr. F (19.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg); Blaire Zenner, 5-10 sr. F (8.0 ppg, 7.3 rpg).
Outlook: Houghton has made at least the Regional round all 14 of Filpus’ seasons and won league titles every one of the last 13. Although the Gremlins didn’t see ranked teams this season, they did split against Class A Marquette, which finished 18-4. Jurmu received all-state special mention from The Associated Press on Wednesday and is one of four starters shooting better than 50 percent from the floor this winter.

Record/rank: 25-1, No. 3
League finish: First in Cascades Conference
Coach: Cori Kastel, seventh season (95-63)
Championship history: Has not played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 57-42 over honorable mention Ypsilanti Arbor Prep (District Final), 58-51 over honorable mention Adrian Madison (Regional Final), 67-43 over No. 2 Niles Brandywine (Quarterfinal).
Players to watch: McKenna Erkfritz, 6-1 sr. F (14.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 1.8 bpg); Jessie Manders, 5-6 soph. G (9.6 ppg, 2.9 apg); Taylor Manders, 5-5 sr. G (14.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.2 apg, 3.0 spg).
Outlook: The Jackson area is generally strong for girls basketball, and Manchester emerged champion of a league that included six teams with at least 11 wins and four that won 15 or more games. Erkfritz earned all-state special mention and teams with Taylor Manders and guard Jesse Coltre as the team’s lone seniors – although all three start.

Record/rank: 16-7, unranked
League finish: Tied for first in Detroit Catholic League AA
Coach: William Jones, second season (36-11)
Championship history: Has not played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 52-48 over Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, 47-44 (OT) over honorable mention Flint Hamady (Quarterfinal).
Player to watch: Ashley Henderson, 5-8 sr. G (16.2 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 3.8 apg, 2.6 spg).
Outlook: Gabriel Richard has reached the Quarterfinals both seasons under coach Jones, but Tuesday’s win over Hamady still had to be considered a bit of an upset considering Hamady’s championship history. Henderson has proven she can find the basket when it's needed most, scoring 30 in the Regional Final and 31 in the Quarterfinal.

Record/rank: 24-2, No. 4
League finish: Does not play in a league.
Coach: Kris Hengesbach, 12th season (252-54)
Championship history: Two MHSAA titles (2008), one runner-up finish.
Best wins: 47-45 over No. 1 Reese (Regional Semifinal), 55-34 over honorable mention Kent City (Regional Final), 60-50 and 57-48 (District Final) over No. 10 Saginaw Valley Lutheran, 58-47 over Class B No. 1 Freeland, 59-58 over Class B honorable mention Clare, 44-40 over Class B honorable mention Haslett, 51-22 over Class D No. 9 Waterford Our Lady.
Players to watch: Taylor Hengesbach, 5-10 G/F sr. (12.1 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 3.0 apg, 1.4 bpg); Rachel McInerny, 6-2 jr. C (14.9 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 1.4 bpg).
Outlook: Nouvel has beaten the top-ranked teams from two classes and the three-time reigning champion from a third. The Reese win avenged a 10-point loss from earlier this season, and Nouvel’s only other defeat came against No. 7 Carson City-Crystal. Taylor Hengesbach made the all-state team and McInerny earned honorable mention Wednesday as the leading scorers from a team that outscores its opponents on average 55-26. 

Class D

Record/rank: 22-3, honorable mention
League finish: Second in Big 8 Conference
Coach: Calvin Quist, eighth season (145-50) 
Championship history: Class D runner-up 2012.
Best wins: 41-33 over No. 7 Mendon (District Semifinal), 68-42 over No. 10 Hillsdale Academy (Regional Final), 55-44 over Climax-Scotts, 48-47 over Class C honorable mention Concord.
Players to watch: Audrey Oswalt, 5-9 jr. F (9.5 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 2.8 spg); Chantel Davenport, 5-9 sr. F (9.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg).
Outlook: Few teams can boast such scoring balance, with sophomore guard Allison Fuller (10.2 ppg) and junior guard Allysha Beal (9.8 ppg) the leading scorers and joining Oswalt and Davenport to give the team four players who average double figures or close. It’s tough to see how Athens couldn't crack the top 10 with its losses only to Mendon, Concord and Homer – all teams the Class D reigning runner-up eventually split with this winter.

Record/rank: 20-5, unranked
League finish: First in Southern Central Athletic Association
Coach: Dana Perrin, third season (61-12)
Championship history: Class D runner-up 1986.
Best wins: 42-40 over No. 8 Gaylord St. Mary (Quarterfinal), 52-48 over Class C honorable mention Concord.
Players to watch: Destiny Froberg, 5-7 sr. F (13.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 4.4 apg, 2.7 spg); Fallon Froberg, 5-8 sr. C (11.8 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 2.4 spg).
Outlook: Climax-Scotts has won at least 20 games all three seasons under Perrin, and will play Thursday for its first championship game berth in nearly three decades. Five seniors of seven total fill the starting line-up. Guard Stephanie Cochran joins the Froberg twins scoring in double figures averaging 10.5 points per game with 54 3-pointers through her first 24 games this season.

Record/rank: 25-0, No. 1
League finish: First in Straits Area Conference
Coach: Dorene Ingalls, 14th season (289-57)
Championship history: Three MHSAA titles (most recently 2011), two runner-up finishes. 
Best wins: 70-54 over No. 3 Crystal Falls Forest Park (Quarterfinal), 74-68 over No. 6 Posen (Regional Final), 70-21, 78-16 and 67-23 (Regional Semifinal) over honorable mention Pickford, 53-38 over Class A honorable mention Petoskey, 55-41 over Class A honorable mention Brighton.
Players to watch: Kelley Wright, 5-10 jr. G (19.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 5.3 apg, 6.8 spg); Sarah Cullip, 5-11 sr. G (13.4 ppg); Abbey Ostman, 5-8 fr. F (10.8 ppg, 9.9 rpg).
Outlook: The Saints are making their fourth-straight trip to Breslin Center but first of this run in Class D after playing in Class C previously. Wright, Cullip and junior guard Emily Hinsman also started last season, and senior guard Morgan LaVake played the most minutes off the bench during the Semifinal. Wright was named all-state Tuesday.  

Record/rank: 20-4, No. 9
League finish: First in Detroit Catholic League East
Coach: Steve Robak, sixth season (126-27)
Championship history: Three MHSAA titles (most recently 2012). 
Best wins: 40-26 over No. 5 Lansing Christian (Regional Final), 28-24 (OT) over Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart (Quarterfinal), 45-25 over Riverview Gabriel Richard, 50-38 over Livonia Ladywood.
Players to watch: Ava Doetsch, 5-6 sr. G (14.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 2.7 apg, 2.8 spg); Lexie Robak, 5-9 sr. G (14.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.4 apg).
Outlook: The Lakers, and especially Doetsch and Lexie Robak, will attempt to add to an incredible run that’s included the last three Class D championships – and those two started on all three of those teams. Both were named to the all-state team this week and are dangerous from the perimeter – Robak had 67 3-pointers and Doetsch 37 heading into the week. Our Lady is 87-18 over their four seasons. 

PHOTO: Riverview Gabriel Richard celebrates its Class C Quarterfinal win over Flint Hamady on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of Anna Fedor/Riverview Gabriel Richard.)

Little Provides Major Stride as 1st Woman to Officiate Boys Hoops Final since 1995

By Keith Dunlap
Special for

April 13, 2023

Delonda Little was already a trailblazer to many before this year’s MHSAA Boys Basketball Finals.

Greater DetroitBut 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 monitors the action between Flint Beecher and Traverse City St. Francis.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 DunlapKeith 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.