Breslin Bound: Girls Quarterfinal Preview
March 13, 2017
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
The final week of the 2016-17 girls basketball season begins tonight with all four of last year's champions still alive for titles this winter, but with a twist.
Reigning Class C winner Ypsilanti Arbor Prep is now in Class B, but is undefeated, as is reigning Class D champ Pittsford. Warren Cousino in Class A and Marshall in Class B also are only three more wins from celebrating again – but challengers abound.
Our final girls basketball Breslin Bound report – powered by MI Student Aid – takes a glance at all 16 Quarterfinals, which are all at 7 p.m. tonight unless noted. All Quarterfinals will be broadcast and viewable with subscription on MHSAA.tv. And come back Wednesday night for a more in-depth look at our 16 finalists as they head into this weekend – and make their long-awaited arrivals at the Breslin Center.
Farmington Hills Mercy (22-3) vs. Warren Cousino (23-2) at Southfield Arts & Technology
Reigning champion Cousino has won 18 straight and is led again by last season’s Finals hero, senior guard and Miss Basketball Award finalist Kierra Fletcher (22.7 points, 13 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 5.2 steals and 2.1 blocks per game). Mercy, the Detroit Catholic League A-B champion, has dominated with balanced contributions from a trio of guards, seniors Chloe Godbold (10.9 ppg) and Jackie Bauer (9.0 ppg) and junior Jenna Schluter (7.5 ppg, 4.5 apg.)
Macomb Dakota (19-6) vs. Flushing (21-3) at Davison
Dakota is playing in its first Quarterfinal and Flushing its first since 2009. The Cougars surprised expected contender Port Huron Northern on the way to winning its first District since 2013. The Raiders have eclipsed 20 wins for the second time in three seasons led by senior guard Lauren Newman (10.9 ppg) and junior guard Shelby Morrow (11.3 ppg).
Kalamazoo Central (20-3) vs. East Kentwood (24-1) at Lansing Eastern
The Maroon Giants also are playing in their first Quarterfinal and have won 19 of their last 20 games – the latest over 21-win East Lansing in the Regional Final. East Kentwood is 10 wins better than a year ago with its only loss Dec. 2 to Class B quarterfinalist Grand Rapids Catholic Central. Junior center Lazurea Saunders leads four players averaging double figures scoring at 14 ppg.
Ann Arbor Huron (20-5) at Southfield Arts & Technology (21-4), 5:30 p.m.
Southfield Arts & Technology pulled off one of the stunning wins of the postseason, downing arguably the Class A favorite Detroit Martin Luther King 55-51 in the Regional Final. But the Warriors have been considered serious contenders as well, led by Miss Basketball candidate Deja Church (20.1 ppg, 8.5 rpg). Huron has won 11 straight with a victory over Class B power Detroit Country Day and had earlier wins over Dakota and Class B quarterfinalist Detroit Mumford.
Detroit Mumford (18-7) vs. Detroit Country Day (23-1) at Marysville
Country Day has won 19 straight Regional titles and made the Semifinals the last two seasons, winning Class B in 2015. Miss Basketball finalist Destiny Pitts averages 22.7 points and has made 71 3-pointers this winter, while junior Kaela Webb averages 14.6 ppg. Mumford is making a second straight Quarterfinal appearance after also facing Country Day in this round last season. The Mustangs have won 10 of their last 12 games and all during the postseason by 20 or more points.
Marshall (22-2) vs. Grand Rapids Catholic Central (24-1) at Otsego
Reigning Class B champion Marshall has won 11 straight since falling to GRCC 42-34 on Jan. 28. Four starters from last season’s Redhawks team are trying to lead them back to Breslin in this rematch of last season’s Quarterfinal. GRCC’s only loss came on opening night to Class A Muskegon Mona Shores, and the Cougars are 70-7 over the last three seasons going into tonight as they pursue their first Semifinal since 2012.
Williamston (23-1) vs. Ypsilanti Arbor Prep (25-0) at Brighton
Arbor Prep moved into Class B this season after winning Class C in 2016 and has continued to win with stifling defense, holding opponents to under 30 points 11 times this winter. Senior Adrienne Anderson leads three guards scoring in double figures, averaging 13.7 ppg, and Ro'zhane Wells (10.6 ppg) also started last season. Williamston owns wins over Marshall and East Lansing with a loss only to Port Huron Northern. The Hornets boast only two seniors, making them scary opponents both this week and next season.
Freeland (25-0) vs. Cadillac (19-5) at Big Rapids, 6 p.m.
The Falcons are back in the Quarterfinals for the first time since 2012 after winning their sixth straight District title as well. Senior forward Jenna Gregory leads a balanced lineup scoring 10 points per game. Cadillac is coming off its first Regional title in girls basketball and has upped its win total the last two seasons. Senior 6-foot center Kylie Christensen has been a force with 18.6 points and 11.4 rebounds per game.
Blissfield (23-2) vs. Detroit Edison PSA (18-5) at Ypsilanti Community, 6:30 p.m.
Blissfield has its third 20-win season and second Quarterfinal berth over the last four years, with its only losses this winter to Class B Bay City John Glenn and Class A Utica Ford. Senior guard Kelsey Wyman (22.9 ppg, 7.1 apg) leads a team trying to make the Semifinals for the first time since 1973. DEPSA loaded its schedule and has lost only to Class A and B teams, with impressive wins over Mumford and Flint Hamady highlighting the slate. There are no seniors but nine freshmen among 12 players total; 6-3 sophomore guard Rickea Jackson and freshman guard Gabrielle Elliott both score just more than 17 points per game.
Flint Hamady (18-5) vs. Hemlock (21-4) at Saginaw Heritage
Hamady will play in a Quarterfinal for the third straight season and fourth in five seasons as it pursues its first Class C title since 2010. The Hawks have only one senior starter, meaning this run shouldn’t end any time soon. Hemlock won its second Regional title after also advancing to this point in 2011. The Huskies have only two seniors, both starting guards, with Samantha Krauss averaging 18.1 ppg.
Schoolcraft (20-5) vs. Pewamo-Westphalia (22-2) at Portage Northern, 6:30 p.m.
Schoolcraft earned its first Regional title last week, avenging its most recent loss in the Regional Semifinal, and has made a jump of four victories from a year ago. Pewamo-Westphalia will return to the Quarterfinals for the first time since 2011 after getting through arguably the toughest Class C District in the state. Junior forward Emily Spitzley leads three averaging at least eight points per game at 13.2 ppg.
Maple City Glen Lake (22-3) vs. St. Ignace (22-2) at Gaylord
St. Ignace has a run of eight straight Regional titles; six times during that run the Saints also made the Semifinals, and five times they advanced to the championship game of that class. Junior 6-1 guard Linnie Gustafson leads three scoring in double figures at 14.5 ppg. Glen Lake also has a long history of Regional titles, but last week's was its first since 2001. The Lakers are over 20 wins for the second straight season with junior forward Jennifer LaCross and senior guard Kelly Bunek leading at just more than 10 points per game.
Engadine (18-5) vs. Crystal Falls Forest Park (20-4) at Negaunee
Engadine has added to its win total every season over the last four and last week claimed its first Regional title since 2005. Freshman guard Sophia Vaughn is the lead scorer at 18.3 ppg. Forest Park lost out on a league title in the regular-season finale, but avenged that defeat to Bark River-Harris in the Regional Final to make the Quarterfinals for the fifth time in six seasons. Senior guard Abby Nylund leads at 14 ppg.
Waterford Our Lady (19-5) vs. Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary (16-9) at Burton Bendle, 6 p.m.
Our Lady won its sixth Regional title in seven seasons and after making the Semifinals last year. Junior Tiffany Senerius leads again as the only starter back from last season’s team. MLS is in the Quarterfinals for the first time since 2012 and seeking its first Semifinal appearance. Sophomore forward Meghan Blaine averages 12.1 points and 7.8 rebounds per game and senior center Rylee Pankow helps with the post power with 10.1 ppg and 9.1 rpg.
St. Joseph Michigan Lutheran (23-2) vs. Pittsford (25-0) at Battle Creek Harper Creek
Pittsford is three wins from a second straight perfect season as star seniors Jaycie Burger (19.2 ppg, 5.3 apg) and Maddie Clark (16.4 ppg, 11.8 rpg) finish up championship careers. Michigan Lutheran won its second Regional title in this sport and first since 2004. Its only losses were to Class A St. Joseph and Class B Buchanan. Senior guard Emily Witkowski averages 19.3 ppg.
Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart (24-1) vs. Frankfort (16-9) at Buckley
Last season’s Class D runner-up has a more guard-driven look and no seniors, but Sacred Heart has been just as successful with its only loss a three-pointer to league rival Carson City-Crystal. Junior forward Sophie Ruggles and sophomore guard Scout Nelson average 14 and 13.5 ppg, respectively. Frankfort has won 10 of its last 11 games to make the Quarterfinals for the third time in four seasons. Senior forward Cecelia Schmitt averages 17.9 points and nine rebounds per game.
PHOTO: Pewamo-Westphalia pushes the ball upcourt during its District win over Carson City-Crystal two weeks ago. (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.