Breslin Bound: Girls Report Week 1
December 9, 2019
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
This Michigan high school girls basketball season will be played out over 16 weeks, concluding with MHSAA Finals on March 21 at Michigan State University’s Breslin Center.
A number of teams with their eyes fixed on that destination didn’t wait long during the first week to see how they might match up with other contenders this winter.
Below is our first “Breslin Bound” report of the girls season, powered by MI Student Aid and based on results and schedules posted for each school at MHSAA.com. Those results have become much more vital this winter – for the first time, there will be limited seeding of the top two teams at the District level based on their Michigan Power Rating (MPR). Check out how every team in the state ranks, and send corrections or scores we’re missing to [email protected].
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. East Lansing 40, Pewamo-Westphalia 27 – Both teams have title aspirations again this winter, East Lansing in Division 1 and P-W looking to repeat in Division 3, and are led by multiple future college hoops talents.
2. Dearborn Heights Crestwood 44, Detroit Country Day 43 (OT) – Any win over always-successful Country Day is going to make a statement, and Crestwood’s was loud as it seeks to build off last year’s run to the Regional Finals.
3. Pewamo-Westphalia 43, Southfield Arts & Technology 31 – The Pirates bounced back from the East Lansing loss to get past last season’s Division 1 runner-up A&T at the Arbor Prep Ice Breaker Challenge.
4. Hartland 61, Adrian Lenawee Christian 40 – The Cougars’ Bree Salenbien is one of the state’s top players no matter the division, so Hartland’s big win over the reigning Division 4 champions, also at Arbor Prep, is a great sign for the Division 1 Eagles.
5. Flint Carman-Ainsworth 57, Flint Kearsley 51 – We needed just a week to see the Flint area is loaded in girls basketball again this winter; Carman-Ainsworth went on to beat Flushing to end the week, while Kearsley downed reigning Class C runner-up Hamady by 11.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
Dexter (2-0) The teams the Dreadnaughts beat last week – Ann Arbor Skyline and Manchester – were also among those they defeated last season in finishing 9-11. But after winning those games by a combined 13 points in 2018-19, Dexter opened by downing Skyline by 41 and followed by defeating Manchester by 50.
Eastpointe (3-0) Last season’s 7-14 finish included six losses by five points or fewer and three determined by just a basket. The Shamrocks are nearly halfway to equaling their 2018-19 win total after a week, with Friday’s 39-31 defeat of Roseville (15-6 last season) the most impressive of the opening run.
Bay City John Glenn (2-0) The Bobcats are no strangers to the mix of the best in the Saginaw/Bay City/Flint/Midland area. And they’re off to another solid start opening with a 52-33 win over Saginaw Swan Valley and 52-49 victory over Essexville Garber, the latter a league champion last winter.
Chelsea (2-0) The Bulldogs are rolling again coming off last season’s 24-2 finish and trip to the Division 2 Quarterfinals. Like last year, they opened with wins over Marshall and Dearborn Divine Child – the former by 20 after winning by two a year ago, and the latter on a game-winning basket during the final seconds.
Grass Lake (2-0) The Warriors’ first game coming off last winter’s 21-2 finish was against Division 1 Ann Arbor Pioneer, a 19-game winner last season – and Grass Lake pulled away 60-54. A tough schedule also sees Carman-Ainsworth, Michigan Center and Pewamo-Westphalia coming up over the next few weeks.
Hart (2-0) The Pirates – a solid 13-11 a year ago – tuned up with a big win over Pentwater before handing eight-time reigning West Michigan Conference champion Muskegon Oakridge a 56-34 defeat on Friday. Oakridge downed Hart by 17 and 38 in their meetings last season.
L'Anse (2-0) The Purple Hornets closed last regular season on a 4-1 run and finished 11-10, but the end had to sting some as they fell 36-30 in a District opener to a Chassell team they had beaten by 15 the week before. L’Anse avenged that defeat to open this winter, 48-34, and added a 39-point win over Lake Linden-Hubbell.
Marion (2-0) A rough start turned into a 6-13 finish last season for the Eagles. But a one-point win over Grand Traverse Academy and 25-pointer against Bear Lake last week put them on a better track. The latter avenged a 14-point loss last winter as Bear Lake went on to win the West Michigan D League title.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – East Lansing (1-0) at Williamston (2-0) – East Lansing won last season’s meeting 59-55, and the Hornets join the Trojans with big-time hopes again this winter.
Thursday – Ann Arbor Huron (2-0) at Ypsilanti Arbor Prep (3-0) – These annual powers had big first weeks again, both winning all of their games by double digits over notable opponents.
Friday – Wayne Memorial (0-0) at Detroit Renaissance (1-0) at Detroit Edison – The Best of Michigan Classic is loaded with big-time matchups, and this one opens the event with Wayne coming off last season’s trip to the Division 1 Semifinals and Renaissance a league co-champ in 2018-19.
Saturday – Adrian Lenawee Christian (1-1) vs. Kalamazoo Central (1-1) at Belleville – This is another of the most intriguing matchups from the Best of Michigan Classic, matching up the reigning Division 4 champ with a Division 1 team looking to rise.
Saturday – Detroit Renaissance (1-0) vs. East Kentwood (2-0) at Belleville – Renaissance must come back immediately after facing Wayne to take on another possible Division 1 contender in the Falcons.
Second Half’s weekly “Breslin Bound” reports are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Office of Postsecondary Financial Planning located within the Michigan Department of Treasury. MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 college savings programs (MET/MESP), as well as scholarship and grant programs that help make college Accessible, Affordable and Attainable for you. Connect with MI Student Aid at www.michigan.gov/mistudentaid and find more information on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.
PHOTO: Byron opened last week with an impressive 61-43 win on the road at Goodrich. (Photo by Terry Lyons.)
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.