Breslin Bound: Girls District Review
March 10, 2015
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
The first week of the MHSAA Girls Basketball Tournament is done, and what do we know so far?
There will be a new Class B champion this winter, and a number of emerging contenders could shake things up in all four classes.
See below for our take on four District champs from each class that especially stuck out during last week’s action; click to follow this week’s Regional Tournament. Next week’s Breslin Bound report will preview all 16 Quarterfinals.
Byron Center (18-5) – The Bulldogs have steadily climbed the last four seasons from sub-.500 in 2011-12, with this District title a nice crowning achievement no matter what happens this week. Byron Center opened with a five-point win over East Kentwood (11-10), then avenged last season’s District Final loss by beating Grand Rapids Christian (17-5) in this Semifinal, 48-44. Byron Center then downed Caledonia (15-7) in the championship game, 39-27.
Marquette (23-0) – The Redettes pushed their sphere of domination further downstate, extending their perfect run against some of the biggest and best from the northern Lower Peninsula. Marquette first beat Big North Conference champion Traverse City West (17-4), which had eliminated Marquette the last two seasons. The Redettes then beat Traverse City Central (9-12) in the Semifinal before finishing the run with a 65-41 win over Big North runner-up Gaylord (18-5).
Muskegon Mona Shores (20-3) – Mona Shores shared the Ottawa-Kent Conference Black title with Muskegon Reeths-Puffer (16-5) because it lost to the Rockets – twice – during the regular season. But the Sailors won with the season on the line, beating Reeths-Puffer 50-46 in the District opener. They then beat Grand Haven in the Semifinal and won the championship against Muskegon, which eliminated Mona Shores last winter.
Salem (19-4) – The Rocks followed up their Kensington Lakes Activities Association overall championship with three wins including two over familiar opponents. Salem opened with a three-point victory over Plymouth (17-4), which had eliminated the Rocks the last two seasons, and then beat Northville (13-8), which finished second to Salem in the KLAA Central. The Rocks moved on with a 42-29 win over Canton (11-11), last season’s Class A runner-up.
Midland Bullock Creek (23-0) – Arguably the favorite for the entire tournament, Bullock Creek had to survive an early scare and another strong opponent to advance. After beating Pinconning (8-11) in the opener, the Lancers just edged Bay City John Glenn (15-4) by a point, 40-39, in the Semifinal. Bullock Creek came back big in the Final with a 65-30 win over Gladwin (16-7).
Haslett (18-5) – The Vikings are looking again like the contenders they were expected to be at the start of this winter. They opened by avenging a regular-season loss against Williamston (19-2), downing the Hornets 53-43, and then beat Perry (15-6) by 28 in the Semifinal. Haslett finished with a 66-30 win over Lansing Catholic (12-11) in the championship game.
Jackson Northwest (19-4) – The Mounties opened by ending the season for the reigning Class B champion, Eaton Rapids (7-14), by beating the Greyhounds 48-44 in overtime after falling to them in last season’s District. Northwest moved on with double-digit wins over Leslie (14-7) and then Olivet (17-5).
Macomb Lutheran North (20-3) – The Mustangs took a step farther than last season after falling in the District championship game a year ago. After eliminating Algonac and Marine City (12-8) by double figures, Lutheran North beat Marysville 42-40 on a put-back with 10 seconds to play in the Final. Marysville shared the Macomb Area Conference Gold title this season, while Lutheran North won the Detroit Catholic League AA.
Laingsburg (23-0) – The undefeated Wolfpack kept their perfection going against two of their toughest regular-season opponents and then the team that eliminated it last season. Laingsburg opened with a 32-26 win over league rival Pewamo-Westphalia (17-4), then beat Bath (12-7) by 10 before avenging last season’s District Final loss to Carson City-Crystal (20-3), beating the Eagles this time 28-17.
Napoleon (16-6) – The Pirates advanced in impressive fashion with an upset and then a little bit of vengeance. After downing Jackson Lumen Christi (8-12) in the opener, Napoleon – runner-up in the Cascades Conference – downed Big 8 Conference champion Concord (18-3) by nine. The Pirates finished the week by defeating Cascades third-place finisher Michigan Center (18-5) which had beaten Napoleon by 10 on Jan. 29.
Reese (17-5) – The Rockets followed up on their shared Greater Thumb Conference West championship with a pair of wins over tough District opponents – Millington (13-9) by 30 points and then New Lothrop (18-5) by 35 in the championship game.
Traverse City St. Francis (21-2) – After a quick first-game exit last season, the Gladiators won a strong District that included a pair of league runners-up. St. Francis, co-champ in the Lake Michigan Conference, opened by beating Ski Valley Conference runner-up Johannesburg-Lewiston (18-3) by 12 points, 52-40, and then defeated Mancelona in the Semifinal and Northwest Conference runner-up Maple City Glen Lake (15-7) in the Final, 47-38.
Bellaire (22-1) – The Eagles claimed their second straight District title with three wins over teams .500 or better. Bellaire opened by doubling up Boyne Falls (11-10), tripled up Ellsworth (10-10) and then downed rival Gaylord St. Mary 46-32. Bellaire beat the Snowbirds (18-5) by a nearly identical score in last season’s District Final as well.
Kingston (19-3) – The Cardinals also won their second straight District title with a pair of double-digit wins over North Central Thumb League rivals. Kingston, the league champion, beat third-place Carsonville-Port Sanilac (12-7) in the Semifinal and then second place Deckerville (16-5) in the championship game, 38-21.
Pickford (16-7) – The Panthers finished second in the Eastern Upper Peninsula Athletic Conference this winter, but avenged a pair of losses to league champion Cedarville (16-6) to advance last week. Pickford opened with a win over EUPAC third-place Brimley (11-9), then downed Kinross Maplewood Baptist (11-5) before edging Cedarville 59-54 in the Final.
Pinckney Livingston Christian (14-5) – LCS claimed its first girls basketball District title with a series of wins including two over similarly-successful teams. After opening with a victory over Ann Arbor Central, Livingston Christian downed Ann Arbor Rudolf Steiner (13-7) and then Adrian Lenawee Christian (14-5) by a bucket, 27-25, in the Final.
PHOTO: Ithaca defeated St. Louis 61-32 in a Class C District Final last week to advance to the MHSAA Regionals for the first time since 2000. (Click to see more at HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)
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.