Breslin Bound: Girls Report Week 1
December 8, 2014
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Some of our favorite stories from the beginning of each season are told when a team, after just a week, has already equaled its success from the previous season.
A few of those are highlighted in this week’s Breslin Bound girls hoops report to kick off 2014-15.
Each week, we’ll look at four teams from each class that stuck out over the previous seven days or the season to that point as we point toward the start of the MHSAA District tournaments March 2.
For schedules of each day’s games statewide and results as we receive them, plus links to each team’s full schedule, results and league standings, click here – and please help us by filling in missing scores or emailing them to [email protected].
Farmington Hills Mercy (2-0) – The Marlins, Class A semifinalists last season, are proving again already they can win close with 55-52 and 49-46 wins over Waterford Mott and Salem, respectively, to open 2014-15.
Flushing (2-0) – The Tigers improved two wins last season to 13-9, with two losses to Flint Powers Catholic; they beat the Chargers 56-23 on Friday to kick off a perfect first week.
Howell (2-0) – The Highlanders were solid to start coming off a 15-7 finish last season, but with an impressive performance to further generate excitement for the weeks to come; 6-foot-1 junior Erin Honkala had 19 points, 28 rebounds and eight blocked shots in Friday’s 47-30 win over Ann Arbor Skyline. The rebounds tied for 13th most for one game in MHSAA history.
Lapeer (2-1) – The former Lapeer East and West last season finished with a combined record of 13-29; the new schools created from a merger of the old kicked off last week with two wins before falling only 57-47 to always-strong Goodrich.
Adrian (2-1) – The Maples already have equaled their win total from last season’s 2-19 finish, with a 47-35 overtime victory over Monroe Jefferson among highlights.
Berrien Springs (2-0) – The Shamrocks didn’t win last season until February, but equaled last season’s win total with two victories to start including a 50-48 nail-biter over Cassopolis.
Grosse Ile (2-0) – The Red Devils are looking to build on last season’s 18-4 finish and kicked off this winter with a pair of wins over Detroit Catholic League teams including 42-41 over Livonia Ladywood on Friday.
Haslett (2-0) – The Vikings made the Class A Regional Finals last season finishing 23-2, but are back in Class B and opened with a 63-21 win over reigning Finals champion Eaton Rapids – one of two teams to beat Haslett in 2013-14.
Grass Lake (2-0) – Last season’s 9-12 finish included a 2-7 skid at the end; the Warriors ended it with a 61-52 win over Concord on opening night and then a 62-36 victory over Cascade Conference foe Hanover-Horton.
Hesperia (2-0) – One week in and Hesperia has guaranteed a better finish than last winter’s 1-18; the Panthers equaled it with a 34-28 win over Mason County Eastern in the opener and surpassed with a 42-30 victory over Kent City Algoma Christian on Thursday.
Lake City (2-0) – The Trojans also started strongly last winter with five straight victories before struggling down the stretch, but looked pretty tough beating Harrison by 15 and Mancelona by 36 last week.
Niles Brandywine (2-0) – The Bobcats have a streak worth statewide attention; they haven’t lost a regular-season game since Jan. 30, 2012, and opened this winter by beating Class A Kalamazoo Loy Norrix 53-46.
Baraga (2-0) – The Vikings won six games last season, with a 52-point loss to Houghton on opening night; they beat Houghton 33-24 to start this season and are on pace to equal last year’s win total by January.
Bark River-Harris (2-0) – Two of last season’s five losses (to go with 18 wins) were to Crystal Falls Forest Park, but Trojans’ star Lexi Gussert is at Michigan State University now and the Broncos got a hard-fought 36-34 win over Forest Park in their first Skyline Central Conference game.
Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart (2-0) – The Irish weren't considered a favorite before winning last season's Class D title; Sacred Heart won't sneak up on anyone this time and opened with their 14th and 15th-straight wins dating to last January.
Wakefield-Marenisco (2-0) – The Cardinals have been on a nice run since the middle of last season; after opening 2013-14 at 2-7, they finished 8-4 and added another pair of wins to open last week.
PHOTO: Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart’s Averi Gamble prepares to shoot in the reigning Class D champion’s 43-35 win over Shepherd on opening night. (Click to see 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.