Breslin Bound: Girls District Preview

March 2, 2015

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

The first games of the MHSAA Girls Basketball Tournament tip off Monday evening, a restart for every team after three months of grinding toward these final three weeks of the season. 

To kick off Districts, this week's Breslin Bound report looks at five teams in each class that have made some of the biggest waves throughout this winter. 

Click to “track the tournament,” with results as we receive them and interactive brackets.


Bloomfield Hills Marian (19-1) – The reigning Class A champion remains undefeated against Michigan competition; its lone loss was Jan. 17 to Chicago Whitney Young, which finished its season 27-2. The Mustangs handed Detroit Martin Luther King its only loss, 50-49 in Thursday’s Operation Friendship game, and also own wins over Farmington Hills Mercy, Flint Powers Catholic, Benton Harbor and Class C contender Ypsilanti Arbor Prep.

Detroit Martin Luther King (19-1) – As noted above, King didn’t fall this season until Thursday against Marian, and then by only one point – giving the Crusaders only two regular-season losses total over the last three winters. King earned a 25-point win during holiday break over Port Huron Northern, now 17-3, and continued to build strength through a perfect Detroit Public School League run.

Flushing (20-0) – The Raiders opened strong with wins over eventual league champions Flint Powers Catholic and Midland Dow and kept on cruising to improve significantly on last season’s 13-9 finish. Flushing added another big victory last week – 50-48 in overtime over Saginaw Heritage, which is 17-3 – and should enjoy that momentum heading into the tournament.   

Marquette (20-0) – The Redettes built on a great 19-3 finish a year ago to end up even better this regular season. In addition to again winning the Great Northern Upper Peninsula Conference title, Marquette shined against strong competition from downstate, beating Brighton (16-4) and Traverse City West (17-3) during the first month. 

Southfield Lathrup (19-1) – Only a two-point loss to Toledo Rogers (Ohio) on Dec. 13 has kept the Chargers from a perfect record. Lathrup sandwiched that loss with impressive wins over the PSL’s Detroit Cass Tech and Renaissance during the first two weeks and have since added impressive victories over Arbor Prep (17-3), Southfield (18-2) and Grosse Pointe South (16-4).


Midland Bullock Creek (20-0) – The Lancers have added to their two straight MHSAA Semifinals runs with a perfect regular season keyed by a trio of 1,000-point scoring seniors in Halee Nieman, Ellie Juengel and Hannah Heldt (read more from the Midland Daily News). Bullock Creek dominated a Tri-Valley Conference Central with six teams that have at least 10 wins, plus won its crossovers against Frankenmuth and Ithaca – both are 18-2.

Grand Rapids Catholic Central (18-2) – The Cougars earned a share of the Ottawa-Kent Conference title on Feb. 20 with a 22-point win over Wayland that avenged an earlier double-overtime loss to their league rival. The only other loss was to Arbor Prep – which came at the end of a two-week run that featured impressive wins over Sparta (18-2) and Class A Grand Rapids Christian (16-4) by 37 points.

Plainwell (20-0) – The Trojans’ perfect run has included three wins over Class A opponents and a Wolverine Conference East championship after they tied for second in the league last season. Plainwell has won six straight by double digits including over Paw Paw and Otsego – the two teams that each beat the Trojans twice during last season’s 18-4 finish.

Spring Lake (20-0) – The Lakers jumped from 13-8 last season to win the Lakes 8 Activities Conference title outright and 17 games by double figures. Spring Lake was 7-15 only two seasons ago, but this winter won 10 games against teams that sit .500 or better.

Wayland (19-1) – The Wildcats split the O-K Gold with Grand Rapids Catholic Central (see above). But Wayland bounced back with two big wins last week and still should carry some confidence from an early slate of victories over Class A Grand Rapids Christian (16-4), Caledonia (14-6) and Wyoming (16-4) and then a one-point win over GRCC on Jan. 23.


Blissfield (19-1): The Royals closed the regular season with a 47-41 win last week over Tri-County Conference runner-up Britton Deerfield, also tonight’s District opponent. Blissfield split the Lenawee County Activities Association championship with Class B Brooklyn Columbia Central, which also gave Blissfield its only loss this season. It may been two months ago, but the Royals also picked up a nice win over Class D contender St. Ignace, 46-33.

Gobles (20-0) – The Tigers, MHSAA semifinalists last season – cruised through their second straight perfect regular season. Gobles won the Southwestern Athletic Conference South title, then beat North champion Decatur 51-35 in their crossover game. Gobles also added a nice one-point victory last week over Class B Otsego, runner-up in the Wolverine Conference East.

Laingsburg (20-0) – The Wolfpack have improved from 13 to 15 to 20 wins over the last three seasons, winning a Central Michigan Athletic Conference with another strong Class C contender in Pewamo-Westphalia (17-3) and a Class D hopeful in Portland St. Patrick (14-6). Laingsburg also added a nice pair of wins over Class B Durand (13-7) in the season opener and Perry (15-5) near the midpoint.

Niles Brandywine (19-1) – The Bobcats' only loss this season was to 17-win Class A Kalamazoo Central, and that came in double overtime. Brandywine won seven games over teams with at least 13 wins this winter and went 7-1 against Class A and Class B opponents. 

Ypsilanti Arbor Prep (17-3) – Arbor Prep’s list of wins this winter provide plenty of confidence the team will eclipse last season’s Quarterfinal run: 59-55 over Grand Rapids Catholic Central, 52-39 over Flint Powers Catholic, 54-39 over Detroit Country Day, to name a few. The losses were to Class A Southfield Lathrup, Marian (both mentioned above) and Ann Arbor Huron (18-2).


Bellaire (19-1) – The Eagles won the Ski Valley Conference despite splitting with rival Johannesburg-Lewiston, a Class C team that's 18-2. One win this week will give Bellaire more than 20 for the second straight season, with 10 this winter coming against teams above .500.

Frankfort (18-1) – An MHSAA quarterfinalist a year ago, Frankfort has continued its stellar play with five wins over Class B teams and four over Class C this winter – the only loss was to Class B Portland during holiday break. The Panthers finished perfect in the Northwest Conference, sweeping runner-up Maple City Glen Lake, a Class C team that sits 14-6.

Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart (16-4) – The Irish, last season’s Class D champion, should be more than prepared for another run featuring some of last season’s heroes – center Averi Gamble and guard Riley Terwilliger among them – and after playing only three Class D opponents during the regular season. The losses were to Class C Carson City-Crystal (18-2) twice, Morley Stanwood (16-4) and Saginaw Nouvel (14-6) – and two Class D wins were over Gaylord St. Mary (16-4) and Big Rapids Crossroads Academy (19-1).

Pittsford (20-0) – The Wildcats finished their second straight perfect regular season as the only undefeated team in Class D. In addition to winning the Southern Central Athletic Association East title for the second straight season, Pittsford added wins against solid Class C teams Sand Creek (14-6), Manchester (17-3) and Britton Deerfield (16-4) and held opponents to fewer than 20 points in 10 victories.

St. Ignace (15-5) – The Saints are another team with a few more losses but expectations of being around at the end of the Class D tournament after winning Class D in 2013 and finishing runner-up in Class C last winter. They opened with a loss to Class A Brighton and all of their losses were to larger schools with between 12-16 wins this winter. All but four of St. Ignace’s games were against teams that finished with at least 11 wins.

PHOTO: Class A contenders Bloomfield Hills Marian and Detroit Martin Luther King met last week in a regular-season finale; Marian prevailed 50-49. (Photo courtesy of the Detroit Public School League.)

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.