Breslin Bound: Girls Report Post-Break
January 8, 2013
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Many of the girls basketball teams impressing us most this season are those we're used to watching march to the Breslin Center every winter.
But others are popping back on the radar in a big way for the first time in a few years – and this week's list includes a few of those as well.
The following 10 teams were among those most impressive while school was out these last few weeks. Records and scores are based on those submitted to the MHSAA.com Score Center.
1. Muskegon Oakridge (11-0) – Oakridge now has won 24 straight regular-season games including a pair at this season’s Oakridge Holiday Tournament, an event it did not win a year ago.
2. Southfield-Lathrup (7-0) – The Chargers have been expected to dominate, and they’re making good on that forecast. Their only close game was still a 51-45 win over a solid Ypsilanti Arbor team.
3. Flat Rock (8-0) – The Rams showed signs of this ability going 16-7 last season. A 47-44 win over a strong Eaton Rapids team is among those most impressive so far this winter.
4. Center Line (6-0) – After opening last season 3-0 and finishing with just four wins total, the Panthers have won all of their games this winter by at least 20 points.
5. Goodrich (7-1) – On one hand, Goodrich lost for the first time since the end of the 2010-11 season. On the other, that loss came to Twinsburg, Ohio, meaning the Martians still haven’t lost to an in-state team in more than a year – and beat Class A power East Lansing the day before that defeat.
6. Grosse Pointe South (6-0) – It’s been hard not to mention this reigning Class A Semifinalist yet. And 15 and eight-point wins on back-to-back days over Livonia Ladywood and Brownstown Woodhaven made it even tougher to wait any longer.
7. Freeland (6-0) – Michigan State recruit Tori Jankoska and her teammates are favorites to make another run at Class B after reaching the Semifinals last season. A one-point win over Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett should build some momentum for that effort.
8. Calumet (6-1) – This volleyball school is showing some skills on the basketball court as well and is already halfway to last season’s win total. On Thursday, Calumet handed L’Anse its first loss this winter.
9. Saginaw Valley Lutheran (5-1) – The Chargers have been elite for a few seasons now, and can add a 69-40 win over much larger Saginaw Arthur Hill to recent accomplishments. Their only loss this season was to Freeland on opening night.
10. Saginaw Nouvel (6-1) – The frequently-powerful Panthers are off to another nice run. They bounced back from that lone loss, to undefeated Reese, with a 46-44 win over Dearborn Divine Child.
PHOTO: Grosse Pointe South's Aliezza Brown looks for an open teammate while being guarded by multiple Brownstown-Woodhaven players during a win at the end of December. (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.