Breslin Bound: Girls Regional Preview

March 8, 2016

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

The MHSAA Girls Basketball Tournament field was reduced from more than 700 to 128 last week with a number of the expected contenders moving on – and few of the unexpected joining the group as well.

See below for four teams from each class that jumped out as we watched Districts finish up and anticipated the start of Regionals tonight. Click for brackets for all 32 and stay with Score Center tonight for scores and updated matchups.

Class A

Dearborn (16-7) – The Pioneers saw a two-season league title streak end, but have improved four wins from a year ago and won their District with a 56-51 victory over Allen Park – which finished 18-4. Dearborn has won 12 of its last 14 games.

East Lansing (17-6) – The Trojans emerged from a District that featured the reigning runners-up in Class A (DeWitt) and B (Haslett), downing Haslett 60-42 in an opener, then rival Grand Ledge 52-36 before beating surprise Lansing Waverly in the Final; 57-41. The Trojans have won 10 straight.

Saginaw Heritage (21-1) – The Hawks’ season looked like it might get away when they fell to Midland Dow 48-40 on Feb. 12 after the team lost standout Jaela Richardson to injury for the rest of the season. But Heritage has rebounded to win six straight and beat Dow 42-32 in the District Final.

Southfield Lathrup (20-3) – The win in the District Final, 56-28 over Southfield, was significant in that the two schools will merge into one after this school year and Southfield was a league champion this winter. But on the way, the Chargers also beat two more league champs in Berkley and Detroit Renaissance.

Class B

Alma (11-10) – The Panthers entered the postseason with a sub-.500 record, but opened last week with an overtime upset of Belding (which beat Alma in the District last season) and then won the title with a 15-point clincher over Shepherd.

Freeland (20-3) – The Tri-Valley Conference Central champion won its ninth straight game in a nail-biter, beating league rival Saginaw Swan Valley 56-53 in double overtime for the District title. The Falcons had beaten the Vikings by only six and five points during the regular season.

Reed City (11-11) – The record may not jump out, but the Coyotes are leaps and bounds better than 2014-15, when they finished 0-21. Reed City tied for fourth in the Central State Activities Association Gold this winter, but beat co-champion Big Rapids in the opener before edging Clare 48-47 in the Final.

Stevensville Lakeshore (19-2) – The Lancers won their first District title since 2013 with a 57-35 win over Benton Harbor, holding Tigers star Kysre Gondrezick to a still-impressive 24 points after she had scored an MHSAA-record 72 in a double-overtime District-opening win a few days earlier.

Class C

Gobles (22-0) – The Tigers nearly saw their perfect run end against a familiar foe, surviving a 65-62 triple-overtime thriller against Hartford in the District Final. Gobles had beaten Hartford, which finished 15-8, 61-18 and 62-28 during the regular season.

Grand Rapids Covenant Christian (16-5) – Last week ended much differently than District week in 2015. Covenant Christian opened with a 45-19 win over Grandville Calvin Christian, a league champion and the team that eliminated the Chargers last year. They then won 54-18 over a Saugatuck team that finished 18-5.

Iron Mountain (14-8) – The Mountaineers repeated as District champs in something of an unexpected scenario. Iron Mountain met up with Mid-Peninsula Athletic Conference foe Norway for the third time, and this time won 51-40 after falling 63-37 and 79-45 in the regular-season meetings.

Traverse City St. Francis (22-1) – The Lake Michigan Conference champion hadn’t crossed paths this season with Northwest Conference champion Maple City Glen Lake, but ended the Lakers’ season at 20-3 with a 62-55 win in the District championship game after beating 15-win Elk Rapids in the Semifinal.

Class D

Ann Arbor Rudolf Steiner (18-3) – The annual Mid-South Conference power took another step this season, winning its league again and then its District with a 42-35 victory over Adrian Lenawee Christian; the Storm fell in its first District game in 2015.

Athens (16-7) – After closing the regular season with three losses in its final four games, Athens is back in familiar territory thanks to a 51-49 overtime District Final win over Mendon – which finished 17-4. Athens also beat Mendon for a District title last season.

Bellevue (17-6) – The Broncos continue to improve under former Eaton Rapids standout Kayla Whitmyer and are four wins better than a season ago. Bellevue beat Battle Creek St. Philip 36-30 in the District Final a week after falling 40-36 to the Tigers amid a three-losses-in-four-game skid.

Fruitport Calvary Christian (19-3) – One more win will give Calvary Christian 20 for the third straight season, but would mean much more than that; also for the third straight season, the Eagles meet Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart in a Regional Semifinal and have lost the last two meetings.

PHOTO: Reed City and Clare players scramble for a loose ball during Reed City’s one-point District Final win last week. (Click to see more at

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.