Breslin Bound: Girls Report Week 12
February 20, 2017
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Another Michigan girls basketball regular season will come to a close Saturday. But there’s still plenty to be determined as we prep for the start of the MHSAA Tournament.
A number of league titles still must be decided – some of those races are detailed below. The Detroit Public School League and Detroit Catholic League have a solid Operation Friendship doubleheader lined up as well, and a few more possible contenders next month will test themselves one more time before winning becomes a necessity to stay on the court.
Below is the final Breslin Bound girls report – powered by MI Student Aid – of the regular season. Next week we’ll switch things up to look at some of the most intriguing Districts from all four classes.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Saginaw Heritage 36, Detroit Country Day 35 – Heritage already was a favorite for the Class A title despite suffering its first loss to Midland Dow two weeks ago; handing Class B contender Country Day its first loss made the Hawks even stronger contenders.
2. Royal Oak Shrine 52, Waterford Our Lady 49 – Shrine had fallen to Our Lady by 20 last month, but most memorable was this Catholic League C-D Final win reportedly gave the Knights their first league title in 23 years.
3. Wayne Memorial 55, Northville 50 (OT) – The Zebras earned a birth in the Kensington Lakes Activities Association Kensington championship game by handing KLAA South champ Northville its first loss since opening night, Nov. 29.
4. Grass Lake 59, Manchester 55 – With this win, Grass Lake clinched the Cascades Conference title outright, reportedly its first league championship in more than a decade.
5. Marquette 43, Houghton 40 – Ten days after falling to Houghton in a matchup of arguably the best in the Upper Peninsula, the two-loss Redettes handed the Gremlins their first defeat in the rematch.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each class making sparks:
Detroit Martin Luther King (18-1) – The Crusaders’ latest run to the Detroit Public School League title saw only Detroit Renaissance (nine) keep a game within 20 points. King also handed Hartland its only loss and has wins over Muskegon Mona Shores and Clarkston, with its only defeat to Country Day at the end of December.
Farmington Hills Mercy (17-2) – The Marlins have run off 13 straight wins since suffering their two losses before Christmas. They avenged that second loss, by 15 to Dearborn Divine Child, with a 15-point win over the Falcons. Mercy beat rival Bloomfield Hills Marian in last week’s Catholic League A-B Final after falling to Marian by 19 in last season’s title decider.
Birch Run (15-3) – The Panthers have won eight straight in addition to handing rival Frankenmuth its first league loss in more than 100 Tri-Valley Conference East games two weeks ago. The two losses were by a point to the Eagles and three to Hemlock in a league crossover – and with three more wins they would equal last year’s 18-4 finish.
Croswell-Lexington (15-3) – The Pioneers clinched their fifth straight Blue Water Area Conference title, and with two more wins this week can finish a second straight perfect conference run. The losses came to Class A Port Huron Northern and Lapeer and on opening night to now 17-win Marine City.
Pewamo-Westphalia (16-2) – The Pirates trail leader Bath by a win in the Central Michigan Athletic Conference after falling twice to the Bees, but did finish last week with a win over one-time Class C No. 1 Laingsburg. P-W also owns an early win over Ithaca, in Class B now but a C semifinalist a year ago.
Saginaw Valley Lutheran (15-4) – The Chargers opened 3-3 with three straight losses to end December, and then fell to TVC West rival Ithaca in mid-January. But they are on a nine-win run and avenged that loss to the Yellowjackets with a 39-35 win Friday. Valley Lutheran finished only 9-12 a year ago.
Crystal Falls Forest Park (16-3) – The Trojans will play Bark River-Harris on Thursday for the Skyline Central Conference West title (outright or shared depending on how the Broncos do with Powers North Central on Monday). Forest Park is 14-1 since dropping two games over the first two weeks, and avenged both of those losses against the Jets and Kingsford.
Pittsford (18-0) – The reigning Class D champion has won 45 straight and rarely has been challenged this season, with its closest wins by 12 over Manchester and 18 over Grass Lake – both Class C teams. The Wildcats have held opponents to fewer than 20 points nine times following an experienced group of leaders hoping to graduate with a repeat.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Thursday – Detroit Martin Luther King (18-1) at Farmington Hills Mercy (17-2) – The headlining Operation Friendship game is one of the biggest in Class A this regular season (see why above).
Thursday – Traverse City St. Francis (16-1) at Gaylord St. Mary (17-1) – This meeting of league leaders will be a nice test for both as they go separate ways (St. Francis to Class C, St. Mary to Class D) for the postseason.
Thursday – KLAA championship game – Wayne Memorial (14-3), Novi (14-4), Howell (16-2) and Hartland (17-1) play Monday to determine which will meet in the league tournament finale.
Thursday – Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central (14-3) at Ida (16-2) – This is another great test as well, as the Class C Kestrels and Class B Bluestreaks look forward to Districts.
Friday – Saginaw Valley League final – Flint Carman-Ainsworth (17-2), champion of the SVL South, will face either Heritage (17-1) or Dow (16-2) from the North.
PHOTO: Greenville, here against Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills, leads the Ottawa-Kent Conference White heading into this final 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.