Breslin Bound: Girls Report Week 11
February 17, 2015
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Only 10 undefeated teams remain with two weeks to play before the start of the MHSAA Girls Basketball Tournament on March 2.
None of those 10 is mentioned below. Instead, these are some of the teams in each class that impressed last week and appear to be getting hot – just in time to be dangerous for those perfect so far.
Fraser (11-4) – The Ramblers equaled last season’s win total with a 43-28 win over Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse last week; although Fraser fell to nonconference Macomb Dakota on Friday, it continues to lead the Macomb Area Conference Blue with a perfect record in league games.
Plymouth (14-2) – After finishing second last season to eventual Class A runner-up Canton, Plymouth went undefeated in-league this winter to win the Kensington Lakes Activities Association South. The Wildcats have won 13 straight, dating to their last loss Dec. 9.
Richland Gull Lake (11-5) – Four losses in five games from mid-December to January knocked down Gull Lake’s record a bit, but the Blue Devils have a chance to avenge the final loss of that run (and the last time it lost this winter) in Friday’s rematch against Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference East leader Kalamazoo Central. Gull Lake fell to Central only 47-43 on Jan. 16.
Southfield (15-2) – The Bluejays have gone from seventh in their former Blue division of the Oakland Activities Association to first in the Gold with a chance to clinch a share of the league title tonight. Its losses are to league leaders that each have only one loss – Southfield-Lathrup and Dearborn Heights Robichaud.
Benton Harbor (13-5) – Tigers would need some help to catch Class A Stevensville Lakeshore atop the SMAC West; they play Lakeshore on Friday after losing 71-69 in their first meeting, but trail the frontrunner by two wins. Benton Harbor is riding high regardless, with six straight victories including an impressive pair last week: 90-79 over SMAC East leader Kalamazoo Central and 62-59 to avenge an earlier loss to St. Joseph.
Brooklyn Columbia Central (14-3) – The Golden Eagles came back from a 69-45 loss to Blissfield on Jan. 19 to beat the Royals 51-42 on Feb. 5 and take back a share of first place in the Lenawee County Athletic Association. Columbia Central finished second to Blissfield last season, but can guarantee at least a share of the title by beating Hudson on Thursday.
Jackson Northwest (13-3) – The Mounties entered this first season of the Interstate 8 Athletic Conference as a reigning league champion, having finished ahead of eventual Class B winner Eaton Rapids in their former conference last season. Northwest’s only league loss this winter was to Marshall, its opponent this Friday.
Muskegon Oakridge (16-3) – The Eagles might be fourth-best in Muskegon, but they’re first in the West Michigan Conference and the best among Class B teams in their immediate area. The three losses were to other Muskegon area teams, but Mona Shores, Muskegon High and Reeths-Puffer are all Class A.
Carson City-Crystal (15-2) – The Eagles beat reigning Class D champion Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart 48-38 on Friday for a season sweep of the Irish and to clinch at least a share of the Mid-State Activities Conference title. Carson City-Crystal’s losses came over a week in January, by one to Morley Stanwood and seven to Saginaw Nouvel.
Concord (15-2) – Second-place Homer and third-place Reading are among three opponents left on Concord’s schedule, but the Yellow Jackets are undefeated in the Big 8 Conference leading Homer by two wins and Reading by three.
Hancock (11-5) – The Bulldogs sit in the middle of the five-team Western Peninsula Athletic Conference but have come on strong over the last month. Hancock is 8-2 over its last 10 games and gets a shot next week at avenging an earlier loss to league leader Houghton.
Harbor Beach (11-5) – The Pirates are cruising at fourth in the Greater Thumb Conference East, but it’s been a season of swings – and Harbor Beach is back on top of a wave. It started 5-0, then lost four of five, and now has won five of its last six – with the defeat by a point in overtime to league leader Sandusky.
Burton St. Thomas More (10-1) – The Crusaders are dominating the Inner State Athletic Conference for the fourth straight season and are again undefeated in league play with the lone loss to a homeschoolers team during the first week.
Mendon (9-8) – The Hornets trail Class C Bronson and White Pigeon in the Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph East standings. But they’ve won six of their last eight after a tough start, avenging earlier losses against both in the process, including last week’s 41-38 overtime win over Bronson.
Three Oaks River Valley (9-7) – We’ve highlighted Red Arrow Conference leaders St. Joseph Lake Michigan Catholic and Michigan Lutheran already this winter, but third-place River Valley also deserves some recognition. The Mustangs have won eight of their last 11 and equaled last season’s win total in defeating Watervliet Grace Christian 34-29 last week.
Wyoming Tri-unity Christian (9-5) – While the school’s boys team is having a rare down season, the girls have bounced back from a midseason lull to win four of their last six after winning six games total a season ago.
PHOTO: Carson City-Crystal finished a season sweep last week of league rival Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart. (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.