Breslin Bound: Girls Report Week 12
February 22, 2016
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
One week remains in the girls basketball regular season, and contenders are gearing up for District tournaments that begin a week from today.
Most weeks during the season, we check in with four teams from each class that have been especially impressive. After a bit of a hiatus, here’s a look at 16 more to remember when the tournament begins.
Allen Park (16-2) – After finishing second to Brownstown Woodhaven a season ago, Allen Park clinched the Downriver League championship Friday with a 56-20 win over Taylor Truman. The Jaguars’ only losses were to Woodhaven in their second meeting and Plymouth in the season opener.
Bloomfield Hills Marian (13-6) – The Mustangs have rebuilt quite a bit after winning last season’s Class A title, and finished only third in the Detroit Catholic League Central. But they beat second-place Warren Regina in the semifinal and then rival and league champion Farmington Hills Mercy 48-29 in Sunday’s A-B league tournament final.
Detroit Martin Luther King (16-1) – The Crusaders came back from their only loss this season – 68-65 to Renaissance on Dec. 17 – to beat Renaissance 68-66 and win their fifth straight Detroit Public School League Tournament title. King previously won the PSL East Division 1 title this winter.
Dexter (17-1) – The Dreadnaughts finished a perfect run in the Southeastern Conference White last week, defeating Ypsilanti Community 37-28, to win the league title outright after sharing the championship with Chelsea last season.
Bay City John Glenn (17-1) – The Bobcats bounced back from their lone loss this season, 50-47 two weeks ago to Ypsilanti Arbor Prep, to put 40-point wins on Tawas and Pinconning over the last two weeks and finish a dominating run through the North East Michigan Conference.
Detroit Country Day (18-1) – Since falling to Saginaw Heritage on Dec. 29, Country Day has won 14 straight. The slate has an argument for the state’s most impressive – wins over Detroit Renaissance, Haslett, Southfield-Lathrup and Ypsilanti Arbor Prep are among the brightest highlights.
Fruitport (17-1) – The Trojans haven’t fallen since Dec. 11 to Spring Lake and secured a share of the Lakes 8 Conference championship with a 46-19 win over Muskegon Catholic Central on Friday. Fruitport finished only fourth in the league a year ago.
Marysville (15-2) – The Vikings have won 13 straight since falling to Country Day on Dec. 17 and 12 straight league games to again claim the Macomb Area Conference Gold title outright after sharing the championship with Center Line last season.
Johannesburg-Lewiston (17-1) – The Cardinals wrapped up a share of the Ski Valley Conference title with a 60-57 win over Onaway on Thursday and can claim it outright by beating Pellston on Tuesday. They finished second to Bellaire last season, but split with Bellaire this winter.
Morley Stanwood (17-2) – The Mohawks claimed a share of the Central State Activities Association Silver title Friday with a 60-34 win over Holton, but they’ll need to beat reigning champion Kent City this week to win the title outright. Morley Stanwood was second last season but beat Kent City 55-41 in their first meeting, Jan. 22.
Negaunee (14-4) – The Miners can finish a perfect run through the Mid-Peninsula Athletic Conference with a win over Ishpeming this week, and also avenge one of their losses, to Marquette on Dec. 15. Negaunee tied for fourth in the league and finished only 9-13 a year ago.
Sandusky (16-2) – The second-place Redskins will need help in the Greater Thumb Conference East title race from third-place Brown City – which plays league leader Marlette this week in the final GTC game for those teams. But Sandusky’s only losses this season were to Marlette, by 12 and seven points.
Climax-Scotts (17-2) – The league-leading Panthers finished a season sweep last week of rival Battle Creek St. Philip, beating the Tigers 42-39 after finishing second to St. Philip in the Southern Central Athletic Association West a year ago.
Crystal Falls Forest Park (16-3) – The Trojans hold a half-win lead on Bark River-Harris in the Skyline Central Conference West standings thanks to Munising’s recent upset of the former league leader; Forest Park must beat Bark River-Harris this week to clinch the title after losing 51-25 in their first meeting Dec. 4.
Gaylord St. Mary (16-3) – Despite finishing second to Johannesburg-Lewiston in the Ski Valley Conference, the Snowbirds should be optimistic heading into the tournament riding five straight wins and with their only losses by a combined four points to the Cardinals.
Mendon (15-3) – The Hornets clinched the Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph Conference Blue title outright with a 46-27 win over Cassopolis on Friday and are already two wins better than last year’s team, which finished third in the old BCS East.
PHOTO: Ypsilanti Arbor Prep and Saginaw Nouvel are two teams expected to contend when the MHSAA Tournament begins next week. (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.