Breslin Bound: Girls Report Week 12

February 19, 2013

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

The girls basketball season has entered its final week, and teams are finishing historical runs and preparing to start anew Monday with the beginning of Districts all over the state. 

Below are 10 teams that have been riding high of late, and for the most part all season. 

1. Detroit Martin Luther King (17-0) – This team is making a strong argument to join the list of top-notch King achievers over the years, and beat Detroit Cass Tech 45-38 in the Detroit Public School League championship game.

2. Niles Brandywine (18-0) – Brandywine survived a small scare against Bronson with a 34-28 win and will be one of the most intimidating teams in Class C when Districts begin.

3. Marquette (16-3) – The Redettes have only one loss since falling to Brighton and Petoskey during opening week – to Houghton two weeks ago. But Marquette evened that series by beating Houghton on Thursday in the rematch, 58-55.

4. Clarkston (17-1) – A 50-43 win over Southfield-Lathrup capped a three-victory week and might be the best of an impressive run this winter.

5. Ann Arbor Huron (13-4) – Huron did lose to Clarkston last week, but has won 10 of its last 11 including beating reigning Class B champion Goodrich on Thursday, 55-53.

6. Burton Bendle (16-2) – Although the Tigers did drop their second game with New Lothrop this season, on Feb. 7, they won a rematch last week against Flint Hamady, 57-55, after falling to Hamady on Jan. 8.

7. Carson City-Crystal (16-2) – The Eagles are having one of their finest seasons ever, and last week’s 41-37 win over powerful Saginaw Nouvel is the best Carson City-Crystal win in recent (and perhaps distant) memory.

8. Pickford (11-6) – Save for a pair of losses to championship contender St. Ignace, Pickford’s other four losses are by a combined 19 points. The Panthers avenged one last week by beating DeTour 42-28.

9. Grand Haven (17-0) – The reigning Class A champion is closing in on a perfect regular season, about the only that that eluded the Buccaneers in 2011-12 when they finished 27-1.

10. Gaylord St. Mary (18-2) – Combined with last season’s regular-season finish, St. Mary is 37-3 over the last two and looks like a Class D contender again coming off a two-point loss in its 2012 Quarterfinal. 

PHOTO: Detroit Martin Luther King's Antania Hayes was named Miss PSL last week and led King to the Detroit Public School League championship at Detroit Mercy. (Photo courtesy of the Detroit PSL.)

Little Provides Major Stride as 1st Woman to Officiate Boys Hoops Final since 1995

By Keith Dunlap
Special for

April 13, 2023

Delonda Little was already a trailblazer to many before this year’s MHSAA Boys Basketball Finals.

Greater DetroitBut 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 monitors the action between Flint Beecher and Traverse City St. Francis.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 DunlapKeith 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.