Breslin Bound: Girls Report Week 1
December 7, 2015
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Girls basketball season tipped off last week, providing new beginnings for 721 teams all over our state.
And at least a few have to be excited about early – and perhaps unexpected – returns.
Each week during the regular season, we’ll glance at four teams from each class that have caught our attention. This week’s list includes a few already on the way to improving on their finishes from a year ago. (Results and records below are based on schedules posted at MHSAA.com.)
Grand Haven (2-0) – The Buccaneers’ comeback from 7-15 a year ago is underway. They started 1-5 last winter, but started erasing that memory with a 46-32 win over Traverse City West followed by a 61-44 win over Traverse City Central.
Haslett (2-0) – The Vikings graduated three four-year varsity players from last season’s Class B runner-up, which combined with the move into Class A might have made for lower expectations this winter. But wins over Eaton Rapids (54-40) and Okemos (64-27) were an impressive way to restart.
Macomb Dakota (1-0) – If the season opener is an indication, the Cougars could be lined up for a nice rebound from 5-16. They played only once last week, but earned a 54-45 win over Rochester Adams, which finished 15-7 a year ago.
Waterford Kettering (1-0) – Kettering’s 23-2 run last season came to an end with a 51-42 loss to Bloomfield Hills Marian, which went on to win the Class A title. The Captains should expect more good things this winter after beating Marian 36-34 in the opener.
Jonesville (2-0) – The Comets won the Michigan Center Furman Classic by sweeping the same opponents it split with at last year’s opening event. Jonesville, coming off a 12-10 finish, beat Detroit Allen 65-24 and then Michigan Center 54-45 after losing to the host a year ago.
Manistee (2-0) – Coach Todd Erickson retired after leading the team to a 23-2 finish in 2014-15, but Kenn Kott's second tenure with the program opened with a 63-34 win over Scottville Mason County Central and then a 51-43 victory over Traverse City St. Francis, which finished 22-3 last season.
Portland (2-0) – The Raiders’ finish of 13-10 a year ago was solid but down a few wins from Portland’s norm. There’s plenty of reason for optimism again after the Raiders opened by downing Grand Ledge 54-45 and Laingsburg 41-38 in overtime; the Comets were Class A semifinalists two seasons ago, and Laingsburg made the Semifinals in Class C last winter.
Reed City (1-1) – The Coyotes are the only team on this list that lost a game last week, but the opening night win was that important. Reed City’s 48-44 victory over Leroy Pine River was its first win since the 2013-14 season.
Hanover-Horton (2-0) – These Comets beat Concord 61-49 and Homer 47-34; those teams won 18 and 21 games last season, respectively, while Hanover-Horton was 5-15 and lost last season’s opener to Concord by 16.
Hart (1-0) – It’s early, of course, but one win might say a lot for the Pirates. They started 0-3 a year ago with a two-point loss to North Muskegon on the way to 9-12 overall, but beat North Muskegon 55-45 to open last week.
Napoleon (2-0) – The Pirates are building on a 16-7 finish and District title from a year ago, and a 31-29 win over Pewamo-Westphalia (17-4 last season) in the opener was a solid way to start. Napoleon followed that with a 52-37 victory over Battle Creek Pennfield.
St. Ignace (2-0) – The Saints are back in Class C after winning Class D last season, and returned with a pair of wins over Class A teams. St. Ignace opened the Petoskey Invitational with a 51-49 victory over Brighton and followed with a 49-46 overtime win over Marquette.
Bark River-Harris (1-0) – The Broncos’ 21-3 run last season included two two-point wins over annual Class D power Crystal Falls Forest Park, and they opened this season with a 51-25 win over the Trojans thanks in part to 17 steals. Bark River-Harris outscored Forest Park 19-3 during the second quarter.
Colon (2-0) – The Magi had plenty to celebrate last week. They won close – 37-34 over Union City and then 58-55 in overtime over Jackson Christian – and in doing so equaled their victory total from last season.
Fowler (2-0) – The Eagles were on the verge of a nice run last season, finishing 10-12 with seven losses by six points or fewer. Last week was a good start on taking the next step, as Fowler downed Beal City 58-40 and Ovid-Elsie 52-46.
Manistee Catholic Central (2-0) – The Sabers rebounded from a slow start last season to win 10 of their final 12 games and finish 13-9, and that momentum may have rolled into this winter. MCC opened with a 48-32 win over Walkerville and another, 47-33, over Custer Mason County Eastern.
PHOTO: An Alma player drives to the basket while Ionia defends last week during the season opener for both teams. (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.