Breslin Bound: Girls Quarterfinal Preview
March 12, 2013
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Three reigning MHSAA girls basketball champions remain alive as we head into the final week of this season. They and two reigning runners-up are only one win away from returning to Michigan State University's Breslin Center.
But 27 more teams also sense how close they are to booking trips to East Lansing. That added ounce of motivation could go a long way in tonight's Quarterfinals across the state.
See below for a quick glance at all 16 games being played this evening. And click here for brackets including tip-off times and sites for every game.
Westland John Glenn (23-1) vs. Detroit Martin Luther King (22-0): King senior Antania Hayes might’ve fallen a few votes short in the Miss Basketball balloting this week, but her team is the favorite to leave Breslin on Saturday with the champion trophy. John Glenn senior guard Raven Bankston (18 ppg) hopes to stand in the way tonight.
Grand Ledge (21-4) vs. Grand Haven (25-0): The reigning Class A champion Buccaneers and 6-foot-5 center Abby Cole achieved something they didn't last winter by going undefeated this regular season. The Comets have taken big leaps of late – improving from eight, to 11, to 15 and now 21 wins over the last four seasons and already knocked out a Miss Basketball candidate in defeating Mattawan.
Grosse Pointe South (23-1) vs. Birmingham Marian (21-3): Grosse Pointe South is the reigning Class A runner-up and has rattled off 23 straight victories since losing on opening night to Chicago Whitney Young. Marian, with just a three-point loss a few weeks ago, is one of only a few to play King close this season, and is succeeding with no player averaging more than 9.8 points per game.
Saginaw Heritage (16-9) vs. Dexter (22-3): A lineup featuring three sophomore starters has led Heritage to its best season since 2005. Dexter won its first Regional title since earning back-to-back in 1997-98, and similar to Marian has four scorers averaging more than seven points per game but none averaging eight.
Clare (23-1) vs. Midland Bullock Creek (22-3): Clare has won a lot and won big; its only game within 10 points this season was a one-point loss to Saginaw Nouvel on Dec. 4. Two sophomores and a senior averaging double figures scoring have led Bullock Creek to its first District title since 2008 and now farther.
Detroit Country Day (18-3) vs. Flint Powers Catholic (19-6): Country Day won its eighth-straight Regional title and is led by guard Asia Doss scoring a team-high 13.3 points per game. Powers is back to being a power after going only 8-13 a year ago. Senior forward Kim Berry leads the way with 13.9 ppg.
Goodrich (22-3) vs. Livonia Ladywood (17-7): Reigning Class B champion Goodrich had a few hiccups after going undefeated in 2011-12, but could run away with the title again led by Miss Basketball runner-up Taylor Gleason (21.6 ppg). Ladywood will try to stop that run tonight while led by another high-scoring senior guard, Andrea Anastos (19.8 ppg).
Marshall (21-4) vs. Grand Rapids South Christian (23-1): Marshall is back in the Quarterfinals after falling last season to Dearborn Divine Child, and is back thanks in part to two sophomore starters. South Christian has its best record since 2006 and is in the Quarterfinals for the first time since 2004.
Niles Brandywine (24-0) vs. Manchester (24-1): Brandywine has made the Quarterfinals all four seasons under coach Josh Hood and made the Semifinals in 2010. Manchester hopes to get there keyed by a pair of seniors – 6-foot-1 forward McKenna Erkfrtiz and 5-5 guard Taylor Manders – both averaging more than 14 points per game.
Riverview Gabriel Richard (15-7) vs. Flint Hamady (22-3): Senior Ashley Henderson is averaging 16 points per game and had 30 in Gabriel Richard’s Regional title win over Madison Heights Bishop Foley. Last season was the only one over the last four that Hamady didn't make at least a Quarterfinal, and it’s looking to get back to a championship game for the first time since winning Class C back-to-back in 2009-10.
Delton Kellogg (21-4) vs. Saginaw Nouvel (23-2): Kellogg has increased its win total all three seasons under coach Mike Mohn, and has followed a third-place finish in the strong Kalamazoo Valley Association to bigger things. But Nouvel will be the toughest opponent this season; the Panthers have their best record since back-to-back championship runs in 2006 and 2007-08.
Shelby (21-3) vs. Houghton (22-2): Shelby has won at least 18 games all three seasons under coach Sarah Wolting, and this season claimed its first postseason titles under her leadership. Junior forward Elisa Jurmu is averaging 19.9 points per game as Houghton makes its first Quarterfinal appearance since 2009.
St. Ignace (24-0) vs. Crystal Falls Forest Park (23-1): The Saints made the Class C Semifinals in 2012 and didn't have their first close game this winter until a 74-68 win over previously-undefeated Posen. Crystal Falls Forest Park is trying to return to the Class D Semifinals and is again led by one of the state’s top juniors – 6-0 Lexi Gussert, who is averaging 32.5 points and 10.9 rebounds per game.
Climax-Scotts (19-5) vs. Gaylord St. Mary (23-2): Five senior starters have Climax-Scotts in the Quarterfinals for the first time in coach Dana Perrin’s three seasons as coach. Junior guard Kari Borowiak is averaging more than 17 points per game for a St. Mary team that hasn't lost since Dec. 18.
Athens (21-3) vs. Plymouth Christian (18-6): This is Athens’ third-straight Quarterfinal berth and it will be looking to return to Breslin after advancing to the championship game in 2012. Plymouth Christian gave reigning champion Waterford Our Lady a scare early this season and played one of the toughest schedules of any Class D Quarterfinalist.
Waterford Our Lady (19-4) vs. Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart (16-7): Guards Lexie Robak and Ava Doetsch can finish this week as four-time MHSAA champions and have started for Our Lady all four of their high school seasons. Sacred Heart is back in the Quarterfinals for the first time since 2010 and hopes to avenge a 50-38 loss to Our Lady on Dec. 15.
PHOTO: Goodrich guard Taylor Gleason (22) will try to lead her team to a second-straight Class B championship this week. (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.