Breslin Bound: Girls Report Week 11
February 18, 2020
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
District seeds have been planted, league titles are being clinched seemingly every day and we’re fast-breaking into the final two weeks of this girls basketball season.
In case you missed them, District brackets were posted for all four divisions Sunday – and for the first time with the top two teams placed on opposite sides of the opening-round bracket. But there’s still plenty to decide before we get to the playoffs, and we connect some of those dots below.
“Breslin Bound” is powered by MI Student Aid and based on results and schedules posted for each school at MHSAA.com. Send corrections or missing scores to [email protected].
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. East Kentwood 53, Hudsonville 46 – The reigning Ottawa-Kent Conference Red champion Falcons (13-3) put themselves in position to at least claim a share of the title this time by handing current leader Hudsonville (15-1) its first loss.
2. Detroit Renaissance 81, Detroit Cass Tech 55 – The Phoenix (16-2) clinched the Detroit Public School League Tournament title and rose to No. 3 in the Division 1 Michigan Power Ratings with a big win over Cass Tech (15-2).
3. East Lansing 50, Flint Carman-Ainsworth 41 – The Trojans (15-1) moved to 9-1 this winter against teams that have gone on to double-digit victories, this time handing a second loss to another Division 1 contender in the Cavaliers (14-2).
4. Saginaw Heritage 56, Midland 39 – The Hawks (11-5) pushed into a first-place tie in the Saginaw Valley League Red, and a second loss last week sent former leader Midland (15-3) into third place.
5. Fowler 54, Byron 47 – The Eagles quietly have risen to No. 4 in Division 4 MPR, but this was a loud statement as they handed Byron (15-1) its only loss.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
Detroit Renaissance (16-2) The Phoenix have won 16 games three of the last four seasons with room for more success this winter. Renaissance’s only losses came to Illinois powerhouse Chicago Simeon 65-50 at the end of December and by two to Detroit Edison, 54-52, on Feb. 1. That was the closest game unbeaten Edison has played, and the Phoenix can further add to a memorable regular season at Flint Carman-Ainsworth on Wednesday and against the Detroit Catholic League champ in next week’s Operation Friendship game.
East Lansing (15-1) The Trojans have defeated an exceptional list of opponents – including Carman-Ainsworth (14-2), Holt (13-3) twice, DeWitt (12-4) twice, Williamston (14-3), Haslett (11-5) and Pewamo-Westphalia (13-2), and a much-better-than-its-record Harper Woods Chandler Park (10-6). The only loss was to Edison 65-48 on Jan. 7, and East Lansing has only one game closer than nine points since. The Trojans can clinch a share of the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue title tonight at Okemos.
Big Rapids (15-1) The Cardinals have built a 10-game winning streak and moved into a first-place tie in the Central State Activities Association Gold with wins the last two weeks over co-leader Fremont (40-35) and third-place Newaygo (30-29). It’s been an incredible jump; after going 22-3 in 2017-18, Big Rapids fell back to 6-14 a year ago. But their only loss this winter came in the first Fremont game, 39-33 on Dec. 20.
Harper Woods Chandler Park (10-6) The Eagles rank third in Division 2 MPR with this record because of a schedule against opponents with a combined .715 winning percentage. Chandler Park is 8-2 over its last 10 games and won the Charter School Conference Tournament on Friday. The Eagles have handed Ecorse (12-1) its only loss and also have nice wins over Ypsilanti Arbor Prep (15-4) and Dearborn Henry Ford Academy (11-5) – plus good playoff-prep losses to Michigan Center, Brighton, Ann Arbor Huron, Carman-Ainsworth and East Lansing among others.
Kent City (16-1) The Eagles locked up a share of the CSAA Silver championship Friday with their second win over Morley Stanwood (13-3), this time 42-30. The title is the team’s sixth straight, and Kent City ran its league winning streak to 43 games. The only defeat this season came to Division 1 Muskegon (10-6) on Jan. 14, and the Eagles also have wins over Comstock Park (12-4), Kalamazoo Christian (12-5), Cedar Springs (10-6) and White Cloud (11-6) as they look to build for the tournament. They fell last year 35-33 in a Regional Semifinal to eventual champion Pewamo-Westphalia.
Maple City Glen Lake (15-2) The Lakers quietly are back on top in the Northwest Conference with a chance to clinch a share of the league title tonight against second-place Kingsley. But they made some noise last week by handing Division 2 Cadillac its only defeat, and Glen Lake also owns double-digit wins over Lake Michigan Conference leader Charlevoix and second-place Traverse City St. Francis. The losses came to Division 1 Midland Dow 45-43 on Dec. 7, and then 58-54 on Jan. 8 to Manton – the opponent that stopped the Lakers’ playoff run in the District opener a year ago.
Adrian Lenawee Christian (15-2) The Cougars did take their second loss Monday, but impressively 67-62 to Edison, and the only other defeat came against Division 1 Hartland (15-1) on Dec. 7. Those could provide as much value as most wins as Lenawee Christian aspires to claim a third-straight Class D/Division 4 championship. And there have been plenty of impressive wins too, over Fowler, Division 3 Michigan Center (13-3) and Brooklyn Columbia Central (15-2), Division 2 Dexter (13-3) and Division 1 Kalamazoo Central.
St. Ignace (13-2) After falling to league rival Sault Ste. Marie on Feb. 6, the Saints are working to finish with a shared championship in the Straits Area Conference. But they really make their name when the playoffs start. Last season’s Division 4 runner-up (with a two-point loss to Lenawee Christian in the Final) will sprint into this postseason with wins to their credit over Division 1 Ann Arbor Huron (15-2), the Division 2 Blue Devils (15-1) and Kingsley (11-5) and Division 3 Charlevoix (11-5) twice. Division 2 Goodrich (14-2) should provide another tune-up Saturday.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – Brighton (15-1) at Hartland (15-1) – These two are tied for first in the Kensington Lakes Activities Association West with two league games to play and Brighton winning their first meeting 41-33 on Jan. 24.
Tuesday – Ubly (15-1) at Sandusky (14-3) – The Bearcats lead the Greater Thumb Conference East by a game thanks to a 31-17 home win over Sandusky on Jan. 21.
Tuesday – Lake City (15-1) at Manton (16-1) – The Rangers won the first meeting and can clinch a share of the Highland Conference title with another, or see Manton move into a first-place tie.
Tuesday – Macomb Dakota (15-2) at Port Huron (18-0) – The Macomb Area Conference White champion Big Reds look to advance to the Red/White Tournament final against the Red runner-up.
Friday – Ishpeming Westwood (16-1) at Negaunee (13-4) – The Western Peninsula Athletic Conference East-leading Patriots handed Negaunee its only league loss 45-35 on Jan. 24.
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PHOTO: Pewamo-Westphalia is among contenders prepping again for a potentially long postseason run. (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.