Breslin Bound: Girls Report Post-Break

January 4, 2016

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Some of the most telling regular season basketball is played over holiday break.

And a number of teams expected to contend when February comes to a close made big impressions over the last two weeks with school out but hoops still in session.

Each week during the regular season, we’ll glance at four teams from each class that have caught our attention. Results and records below are based on schedules posted at

Class A

Clarkston (7-0) – After a middling 12-9 last winter, the Wolves are back on the rise with only two wins so far (by eight over Lake Orion and three over North Farmington) coming by fewer than 10 points.  

DeWitt (7-0) – The reigning Class A runner-up has matched last season’s 7-0 start, with the most recent victory 67-45 over revamped Wayne Memorial at the Motor City Roundball Classic.

Marquette (7-1) – The Redettes fell to Class C contender St. Ignace in overtime during the first week, but have surged since with wins over Traverse City West (45-30) and Central (60-38) over the break.

Saginaw Heritage (6-0) – The Hawks earned the best win arguably of any team in the state, girls or boys, over the break, 39-29 over reigning Class B champion Detroit Country Day at the Roundball Classic. Heritage won its first 11 last season on the way to the Class A Semifinals.

Class B

Kalkaska (5-0) – After tying for the league championship a year ago, Kalkaska should again be in the mix for first in the Lake Michigan Conference, with only Northwest Conference contender Maple City Glen Lake coming closer than 25 points so far.

Kingsford (6-1) – The Flivvers will hope for better in the rematch against Great Northern Conference rival Marquette after losing to the Redettes 66-27 on Dec. 17, but early on Kingsford looks like the next best in the league and a possibility to do more.

Grand Rapids Catholic Central (6-0) – The Cougars’ opening run has included a 69-62 win over Class A contender Southfield-Lathrup and then three more over the break over Rockford (77-47), Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central (64-42) and Ann Arbor Huron (49-39).

Stockbridge (5-2) – The Panthers are another team on the rise after finishing 10-11 a year ago; they beat Concord 58-54 in overtime to win the Parma Western Invitational coming off a tough loss to league foe Perry.

Class C

Blissfield (6-0) – This start isn’t surprising given the team’s 22 wins a year ago, but Blissfield did have one of the best holiday runs of any girls team, regardless of class, with a 47-42 win over Waterford Our Lady and a 48-42 victory over Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett.

Calumet (6-0) – The reigning Class C champion has won 15 straight games dating to last season and is giving up an average of only 31 points per in dominating this winter.

Ithaca (5-0) – The Yellowjackets opened with a nice 59-53 win over Pewamo-Westphalia and haven’t slowed as they seek to build on last year’s 21-3 record.

Millington (5-1) – A six-point loss to Birch Run aside, the Cardinals are cruising this season and handed Essexville Garber its only loss after having to battle back from an 0-4 start a year ago.

Class D

Ann Arbor Rudolf Steiner (6-0) – The Storm have stormed to a nice early run after having to battle back from 0-3 a year ago to win the Mid-South Conference; no opponent has come closer than 19 points this winter.

Bay City All Saints (6-1) – All Saints bounced back nicely after a 1-3 start last season, but kicked off much more quickly this time with its only loss to Class B Pinconning and a solid 40-35 win over Warren Michigan Collegiate at the Roundball Classic.

Newberry (5-0) – The Indians are off to another great start after winning nine of their first 10 in 2014-15, and this time beat Munising, 45-33, after Munising prevented the perfect first half a year ago.

Waldron (5-0) – The Spartans won by 19 and 17 in their two Hillsdale Tournament games as they prepared to provide what could be the greatest challenge to reigning Class D runner-up Pittsford in the Southern Central Athletic Association East.

PHOTO: Ithaca and Blanchard Montabella players battle for a loose ball during the Yellowjackets’ 55-26 win on Dec. 21. (Click for more photos from 

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.