Breslin Bound: Girls Report Week 11
February 13, 2017
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
If the conclusion of league races this winter is an indication of what we should expect when the MHSAA Tournament begins in two weeks, fans will be on the edges of their respective seats.
Just this past week we had Norway downing Ishpeming and Carleton Airport edging Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central both by a point with titles on the line. Hamilton got past Holland Christian by a mere basket in another matchup of league contenders, and Hartland and Blissfield won only more comfortably by five apiece to secure championships.
And those are just five more scores in addition to those occupying the usual spot below kicking off our Breslin Bound report, powered by MI Student Aid.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Midland Dow 46, Saginaw Heritage 44 – Revenge surely was sweet for the Chargers, who moved into a first-place tie in the Saginaw Valley League North by handing the Hawks their first loss this season and after losing to Heritage 50-47 in overtime Jan. 17.
2. Birch Run 56, Frankenmuth 49 – The Panthers still trail the Eagles by a win in the Tri-Valley Conference East, but they did break Frankenmuth’s 105-game league winning streak.
3. Houghton 46, Marquette 40 (2OT) – No league title was on the line in this one, but perhaps the status as top team in the Upper Peninsula with the undefeated Gremlins making another strong claim.
4. DeWitt 55, Lansing Waverly 52 – The Panthers avenged their lone loss of this season, which came 55-47 to the Warriors on Jan. 6, to hold onto first alone in the Capital Area Activities Conference Red.
5. Sandusky 38, Reese 23 – The Redskins can claim to be the best of a strong group of Class C teams in the Thumb with wins over the two-loss Rockets and two-loss Harbor Beach as well.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each class making sparks:
Flushing (14-2) – The Raiders have won 13 straight since back-to-back early losses to Heritage and Dow and should clinch a share of the Flint Metro League title Tuesday against Linden. It’s been nearly a repeat of the 2015-16 regular season, when Flushing came back from the same losses to finish 19-3.
St. Clair Shores Lakeview (16-1) – The Huskies dominated the Macomb Area Conference Blue, and that lone loss came just two weeks ago by a point in overtime to second-place Clinton Township Chippewa Valley. Not a bad way to add to last season’s District title and 14-9 overall finish.
Fowlerville (12-5) – With two more wins, the Gladiators will guarantee their best finish this decade, with last season’s 13 victories coming after seasons of four and one, respectively. The attention-grabber was last week’s upset of 2016 Class B semifinalist Bay City John Glenn, 60-48.
Detroit Mumford (12-5) – The Mustangs have earned a berth in Saturday’s Detroit Public School League championship game against Detroit Martin Luther King. Mumford could be a team to watch in Class B again with four losses this winter to Class A teams (including twice to King) and after making the MHSAA Quarterfinals a year ago.
Springport (13-2) – The Spartans may need to win out to secure the Big 8 Conference championship, but set themselves up over the last 10 days with wins over second-place Jonesville, third-place Homer and in overtime over Quincy. The win over also-reigning league champion Homer avenged Springport’s only Big 8 loss.
Leroy Pine River (14-2) – Three teams are tied for first place in the Highland Conference with three league games to play, and Pine River is among them after avenging an earlier loss last week to co-leader McBain. The Bucks have won outright or shared the last two titles and also are tied with Manton this time.
St. Joseph Michigan Lutheran (15-2) – The Titans can clinch the Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph Conference White title with a win Saturday against Three Oaks River Valley. The championship would be Michigan Lutheran’s third straight, and its only losses this winter are to league leaders – Class A St. Joseph and Class B Buchanan.
Ann Arbor Rudolf Steiner (13-1) – The Storm hasn’t lost a Mid-South Conference game since the start of the 2011-12 season and can clinch another league title this week. Rudolf Steiner also could improve on last season’s 18-3 overall finish, with its only loss this winter to Class C Whitmore Lake.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – Clarkston (14-3) at Bloomfield Hills (14-1) – The Black Hawks are a win away from securing the Oakland Activities Association White title, but first can add to a great season by downing the second-place team in the Red.
Tuesday – Traverse City St. Francis (14-1) at Kalkaska (12-2) – Kalkaska has the lead in the Lake Michigan Conference because it dealt St. Francis’ only loss Jan. 14.
Thursday – Marquette (15-2) at Houghton (17-0) – Ten days after the game mentioned at the top of the report, these two will meet again.
Saturday – Detroit Martin Luther King (16-1) vs. Detroit Mumford (12-5) at University of Detroit Mercy – The PSL championship game features a matchup King has won twice already, but an opportunity for Mumford to send a shockwave throughout the state.
Saturday – Detroit Country Day (15-0) at Saginaw Heritage (15-1) – Consider this a little pre-postseason tune-up for contenders in Class B and A, respectively.
PHOTO: Flushing’s 14-2 start this season included a win over Flint Hamady on Feb. 7. (Click to see more from Varsity Monthly.)
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.