Breslin Bound: Girls Report Post-Break

January 6, 2015

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

The new year and end of break means midseason is approaching for MHSAA girls basketball teams – and the elite are beginning to separate from the rest of the pack.

See below for four teams from each class that shined especially brightly while school was out. Also new from Second Half this week – we’ll print by class each Monday a list of the undefeated teams left in Michigan and add in those with one and two losses as the season rolls on and the undefeated are down to just a few. (Click for this week’s list.)

Class A

Detroit Martin Luther King (7-0) – The Crusaders are again among the elite regardless of class, and no opponent has gotten within 23 points – including one-loss Port Huron Northern, discussed more below.

Grand Rapids Union (4-1) – The Red Hawks stumbled to just four wins last season but equaled that total with a 63-59 victory over McBain on Dec. 27 at the Motor City Roundball Classic. The day before, Union fell by only eight to strong Bay City John Glenn.

Port Huron Northern (6-1) – The Huskies did lose to King but have dominated locally with the second win this season over Marysville claiming that school's invitational title Saturday.

Warren Cousino (5-1) – Despite losing big to Bloomfield Hills Marian during the second week, Cousino has beaten its other opponents all by at least 14 points and swept Dexter and Northville to win the latter’s tournament at the end of December.

Class B

Kingsford (5-2) – The Flivvers entered the break on a two-game losing streak, but did defeat West Iron County 57-27 to break the brief downward run; Kingsford is only three wins from equaling last season’s total.

Manistee (7-0) – After going 22-1 last season, Manistee hasn’t slowed a bit in dominating its first seven opponents by an average of 30 points per.

Spring Lake (6-0) – Spring Lake turned a 2-5 start last season into 13-8, but is on the move earlier this winter with only one of its wins by fewer than 19 points.

Wayland (6-0) – The Wildcats are nearly halfway to last season’s 13 wins after winning the Blue division of the Cornerstone University Holiday Invitational; only Grand Rapids Christian in that title-deciding game has come closer than 20 points.    

Class C

Galesburg-Augusta (5-2) – The Rams should be contenders in the Kalamazoo Valley Association and won their holiday tournament with victories over Sturgis and Bronson; the losses came to Class B Plainwell and Battle Creek Pennfield.

Laingsburg (6-0) – The Wolfpack heads into 2015 coming off wins over league rivals Fowler (33-29) and Pewamo-Westphalia (36-33) and with three more over Class B teams.

Sandusky (7-0) – The Redskins are following up nicely on last season’s Regional Final run and have only one loss total over the last two regular seasons.

Ypsilanti Arbor Prep (7-0) – Arbor Prep’s perfect start included a pair of strong wins at the end of December, 58-53 over Dayton Carroll of Ohio and 59-55 over one-loss Grand Rapids Catholic Central.

Class D

Bellaire (4-0) – The Eagles finished second to Gaylord St. Mary in the Ski Valley Conference last season and get their first of two matchups with the Snowbirds on Friday.

Big Rapids Crossroads Academy (6-0) – The Cougars could be on their way to repeating in the West Michigan D League with all of their wins – including five in league – by at least 16 points; second place Bear Lake is next up.  

Mackinaw City (6-0) – The Comets have started 6-0 for the second straight season and lead the Northern Lakes Conference with a big win over Boyne Falls the highlight so far.

McBain Northern Michigan Christian (5-0) – These Comets are already halfway to equaling last season’s win total with 30 points their closest win margin so far.

PHOTO: Detroit Martin Luther King’s perfect run has included a win against Chicago Crete Monee during the Detroit Public School League Holiday Classic. (Photo courtesy of Detroit Public School League.)

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.