Breslin Bound: Girls Report Week 12
February 24, 2015
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Believe it or not, girls basketball practice began more than three months ago.
Fifteen weeks later, we have only one more of the regular season, making this our last chance to tout the races for league titles that will finish playing out over the next six days.
Read on for some of the teams that either accomplished big things over the last week or still can – and we’ll look at more Monday as we jump into the start of District tournaments all over Michigan.
East Kentwood (10-8) – The Ottawa-Kent Conference Red race has been close among the top four teams, and East Kentwood beat fourth-place Rockford on Friday to set up tonight’s likely championship game against Hudsonville (see below). The Falcons were 7-14 and fifth in the league a year ago.
Hudsonville (10-8) – The Eagles’ turnaround has been even more dramatic than that of East Kentwood (above). Hudsonville was 2-19 and last in the O-K Red a year ago, but beat fourth-place Rockford and third-place Holland West Ottawa last week to set up tonight’s conference decider.
Marquette (18-0) – The Redettes locked up their third consecutive Great Northern Upper Peninsula Conference title, but can take the achievement to another level with two more victories this week to finish the regular season undefeated for the first time during this three-season run. Marquette beat West Peninsula Athletic Conference champion Houghton 49-40 on Friday.
Oxford (14-4) – The Wildcats have ridden nine straight wins to the Oakland Activities Association White title, clinching it last week with a 51-32 victory over second-place Troy. Oxford already had eclipsed last season’s 13 wins.
Center Line (16-2) – The Panthers also have won nine straight and must hold on this week against third-place Marine City and seventh-place Mount Clemens to share the Macomb Area Conference Gold title with Marysville. Center Line finished second, a game back, in the MAC Silver last season.
Grand Rapids Catholic Central (16-2) – The Cougars avenged in a big way their only O-K Gold loss – 77-76 to Wayland on Jan. 23 – by beating Wayland 64-42 on Friday to move into a first-place tie with the Wildcats with two league games to play. GRCC has finished league runner-up the last two seasons.
Haslett (14-4) – The Vikings are 9-0 with standout Makenna Ott and went 5-4 without her before she returned from injury for Friday’s 57-53 win over Lansing Waverly (14-5). Her return is just in time to help Haslett hold on to a share of the Capital Area Activities Conference Red title and possibly get revenge in the District against Williamston, the first to beat the Vikings after Ott was hurt.
Kentwood Grand River Prep (14-1) – The Titans haven’t lost since the first Saturday of this season, to Ypsilanti Arbor Prep (14-3), and can clinch a share of the River Valley Conference title tonight against Wyoming Tri-unity Christian. Junior Mariah McCully sets the pace, scoring 24.4 points per game.
Adrian Madison (15-4) – The Trojans locked up the Tri-County Conference title with a win Friday over Petersburg-Summerfield after also avenging their only league loss, Jan. 13 to Britton Deerfield, in their rematch Feb. 10. Two of Madison’s other three losses were to teams that also have won league championships this winter.
Brown City (13-5) – The Green Devils bounced back from three straight losses at the start of February to win four straight and secure a top-three finish in the Greater Thumb Conference East. They get to see how far they’ve come Thursday against league leader Sandusky – which beat Brown City 46-38 on Feb. 3.
Manchester (15-2) – The Flying Dutch have clinched the Cascade Conference championship, besting a field with four more teams that have won at least 11 games overall. It was a nice step up after tying for second last season; the only losses this winter came early to second-place Napoleon and at the end of January to still-undefeated Pittsford.
Unionville-Sebewaing (14-4) – The Patriots’ lone league loss came to Reese – but USA regained the upper hand in the Greater Thumb Conference West by defeating the Rockets 57-44 in their rematch Thursday. USA can clinch a shared title tonight against Vassar, which the Patriots beat by four Jan. 20.
Athens (11-6) – Few Class D teams play in a more competitive mostly-Class C league than the Big 8 Conference, and all six of Athens’ losses were to Class C teams with at least 10 wins. The Indians have won four straight and can get further geared up for a tournament run if they tonight can avenge an earlier loss to Reading.
Battle Creek St. Philip (14-5) – Despite falling to second-place Climax-Scotts on Friday, the Tigers can clinch the Southern Central Athletic Association West title outright by defeating Colon on Thursday. St. Philip did rattle off eight straight wins during a perfect January.
Mendon (10-8) – The Hornets will have to settle for a middle finish in the Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph Conference East, but are 7-2 after a tough start and have avenged losses to second-place White Pigeon and league champion Bronson. Mendon made the Quarterfinals last season and could be gathering steam again.
Waldron (11-5) – The Spartans play in the same SCAA East as the only undefeated team in Class D, Pittsford. But Waldron has won more games than all of last season and gone 9-2 since a rough early start and despite playing in an SCAA division where all four teams have 10 or more wins.
PHOTO: Haslett fell to Goodrich 55-43 on Jan. 20 but enter the final week of the regular season at full strength with the return of Makenna Ott from injury. (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.