Breslin Bound: Girls Regional Preview
March 7, 2017
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
It was not intentional that the five results from last week’s Districts highlighted in this week’s “Breslin Bound” report all came from Class A.
Rather, it’s an indication just how many contenders there appear to be in that tournament this season – and no doubt this week’s Regionals in the other three classes will provide similar excitement.
Below is a glance at those five District games that popped off the bracket most, plus a look at three Regionals of particular note in each class – all powered by MI Student Aid.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. East Lansing 48, DeWitt 47 – The Trojans avenged a one-point loss to the Panthers from the second week of this season in a matchup of Capital Area Activities Conference champions.
2. Bloomfield Hills Marian 47, Bloomfield Hills 45 – Marian ran its Class A District streak to six straight in this Final, handing Bloomfield Hills only its second loss and first since the first weekend in December.
3. East Kentwood 51, Grand Rapids Christian 49 – The Falcons also haven’t lost since the season’s first week, but just got past the Eagles in another Class A Final, this one a matchup of Ottawa-Kent Conference champs.
4. Farmington Hills Mercy 32, North Farmington 30 – North Farmington had a great season with 16 wins, but this Class A Final still had to be a bit of a scare for the Detroit Catholic League A-B champion.
5. Midland Dow 37, Saginaw Heritage 30 – This was a Class A District Semifinal, but matched rivals that had split during the regular season; both had aspirations of winning the MHSAA championship, and Dow went on to win the District.
Regionals at a Glance
These could be among our most competitive brackets. Host sites are in bold:
Dearborn (18-4), Detroit Martin Luther King (22-1), Livonia Churchill (9-14), Southfield Arts & Technology (18-4).
King has continued to turn away its share of tough opponents as it looks to return to the Class A championship game after finishing runner-up a year ago. The Crusaders could see two more this week; Dearborn also faced King in a Regional Semifinal last season and is two wins better than a year ago, and potential District Final opponent Southfield Arts & Technology has faced its share of contenders as well and has been considered one since the start of this winter. Churchill lost seven of its last eight to finish the regular season, but has gotten on the right track during the playoffs.
Farmington Hills Mercy (20-3), Hartland (22-1), Novi (17-6), Walled Lake Western (19-4).
With their only loss to King on Dec. 17, the Eagles are on a fantastic run and rightly should have dreams of their second Regional title in three seasons. They won a Kensington Lakes Activities Association overall title with Novi and Walled Lake Western also part of the bracket, although Hartland didn’t see either. As noted above, Mercy is the Detroit Catholic League A-B champ but had a scare in the District Final. Those two face each other Tuesday, with Western a KLAA division champion and Novi a runner-up on the other side of the bracket.
East Kentwood (22-1), Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern (16-7), Hudsonville (17-6), Muskegon Mona Shores (19-3).
East Kentwood and Mona Shores both had District scares as well, East Kentwood’s against Grand Rapids Christian mentioned above and Mona Shores a one-point Semifinal win over rival Muskegon. They face each other in one Semifinal this week, while on the other side Hudsonville is looking to repeat its 2016 trip to the Class A Semifinals and Forest Hills Northern is on a six-game winning streak that has included multiple wins over the champion of its O-K White, Lowell.
Center Line (16-7), Detroit Collegiate Prep (16-5), Detroit Mumford (16-7), Redford Union (14-6).
Mumford will start its pursuit of a repeat Quarterfinal trip with another strong Detroit Public School League team in Collegiate Prep, which has added six wins to its total from 2015-16. On the other side of a wide-open bracket, Center Line has won six of its last eight while making the Macomb Area Conference Blue-Gold Tournament championship game, and Redford Union has reversed course from last season’s 6-15 finish.
Corunna (14-9), Freeland (23-0), Ithaca (19-4), Saginaw Swan Valley (18-5).
Freeland’s run to the Tri-Valley Conference Central title included a one-point win over Swan Valley, a possible Regional Final opponent. The Vikings open with Ithaca, a Class C semifinalist last season, while the Falcons will look to keep their perfect run alive against a Corunna team that has improved from 9-12 a year ago.
Grand Rapids Catholic Central (22-1), Hamilton (22-1), Howard City Tri-County (15-7), Muskegon Oakridge (21-2).
Hamilton, Oakridge and GRCC all won league championships, and Tri-County was a co-runner-up. Oakridge’s losses came back-to-back in December, and it is undefeated in 2017 as it takes on Hamilton in a Regional Semifinal for the second straight season – and with the opportunity to see GRCC in the title game also for the second straight winter. Hamilton’s only loss also was in December, to Class A Hudsonville, and GRCC’s defeat came on opening night to Class A Mona Shores.
Ann Arbor Greenhills (17-4), Blissfield (21-2), Grass Lake (17-6), Michigan Center (20-3).
Grass Lake won the Cascades Conference with a sweep of Michigan Center by 10 (in overtime) and 24. But the Cardinals have won 11 straight. To get a rematch, they first must get by Blissfield, the Lenawee County Athletic Association champion and owner of an 18-game winning streak with losses this season only to Class A Utica Ford and Class B Bay City John Glenn. And don’t forget about Greenhills, which also has won 11 straight and 15 of its last 16 after also going 17-4 last winter.
Brown City (16-6), Flint Hamady (16-5), Harbor Beach (17-5), Sandusky (23-0).
It’s hard to believe Hamady hasn’t won a Class C title since 2010; the Hawks are always in the mix and have won four Regionals this decade alone. But this could be one of their greatest challenges at this level of the tournament; Sandusky is playing for its first Regional title since 1999 and has been barely challenged, with only Harbor Beach getting as close as 10 to matching the Redskins. Sandusky, Harbor Beach and Brown City finished in the top three spots in the Greater Thumb Conference East. Hamady has seen its share of top teams, however, with losses to four others that also celebrated District titles last week – Detroit Country Day, Goodrich, Detroit Edison and Flushing.
Bronson (16-7), Kalamazoo Hackett (18-5), Niles Brandywine (19-4), Schoolcraft (18-5).
None of these teams won league championships, a testament to the tough competition they’ve faced in prepping for the postseason. Brandywine finished third in the Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph Red to Class B Comstock and Buchanan (which shared the title) and is seeking its third straight Regional championship and sixth in seven seasons. Bronson finished second in the BCS Blue and is seeking its first Regional title since 2002, and Hackett and Schoolcraft tied for second in the Southwestern Athletic Conference Valley and are both seeking a first championship in this round of the tournament.
Adrian Lenawee Christian
Ann Arbor Rudolf Steiner (20-1), Hillsdale Academy (16-7), Morrice (19-4), Pittsford (23-0).
It’s been quite a closing run for Pittsford’s veteran crew, who have won 50 straight since falling in the Class D Final in 2015. First up this week is Morrice, which has won 11 straight and shared the Genesee Area Conference Blue title, while on the other side waits a possible familiar foe – Hillsdale Academy finished second to Pittsford in the Southern Central Athletic Association East. The Colts begin Regional play with Mid-South Conference champ Rudolf Steiner, which lost only to Class C Whitmore Lake.
Bark River-Harris (15-7), Cooks Big Bay de Noc (10-12), Crystal Falls Forest Park (18-4), Painesdale-Jeffers (17-6)
A championship game between Skyline Central Conference West rivals Bark River-Harris and Crystal Falls Forest Park would be charged; the Trojans beat Bark River-Harris by 13 early but saw the league title slip away with a 13-point loss to the Broncos in the regular-season finale. Not that Jeffers, with 12 wins over its last 14 games, will go easily in its Regional Semifinal against Bark River-Harris. Big Bay de Noc finished last in the SCC East but beat the second and third-place teams to win last week’s District.
Custer Mason County Eastern (16-5), Fruitport Calvary Christian (20-1), Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart (22-1), Wyoming Tri-unity Christian (18-5).
Sacred Heart, last season’s Class D runner-up, has dominated again with only a loss to Carson City-Crystal, and only the Eagles and Merrill have gotten within single digits of the Irish so far. Tri-unity, which like Sacred Heart fell to eventual champion Pittsford during last season’s tournament, is looking to return to the Quarterfinals for the second straight. Especially intriguing is Calvary Christian, which finished ahead of Tri-unity to win the Alliance League and is a one-point December loss to Class C Mason County Central from a perfect season but has never won a Regional. To get that opportunity, Calvary will first have to beat Mason County Eastern, which has righted itself after losing three of four at the end of the regular season.
PHOTO: Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart, here against Beal City, plays this week in what could be one of the toughest Regionals in Class D. (Click for more from 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.