Breslin Bound: Girls Report Week 2
December 14, 2015
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
League schedules have started for some girls basketball teams already this winter, and with them the usual speculation of which contenders will lead the chase.
But we’re also keeping an eye out for a few more that are breaking into those conversations after showing early sparks.
Each week during the regular season, we’ll glance at four teams from each class that have caught our attention. Results and records below are based on schedules posted at MHSAA.com.
Alpena (3-0) – The Wildcats are seeking their first winning record in at least five seasons and possibly could be in line for more with only two more wins needed to equal last season’s total.
Jackson (4-0) – The Vikings lately have been only a slight factor in the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue race, with two fourth-place finishes over the last four seasons. But they could be in the thick of a competitive group after a 48-45 win over East Lansing on Friday gave them four wins, only two fewer than last year.
Midland (3-1) – A loss Friday to Class B power Bay City John Glenn aside, Midland is gearing up for another Saginaw Valley League run. The Chemics have handed the only losses so far to Freeland, St. Johns and Bay City Western.
Port Huron Northern (3-0) – The Huskies will again be a team to watch after going 21-4 a year ago; they have won their first three games by 19, 31 and 37 points, respectively, after a similar start last December.
Ada Forest Hills Eastern (3-0) – The Hawks were 15-7 a year ago so another nice start isn’t a surprise, but beating Lowell 57-50 last week is a bonus after they lost to the Red Arrows by seven last December.
Birch Run (3-0) – The Panthers can circle Jan. 13 on their calendars; beating Millington 56-50 last week could mean Birch Run will again be the main contender with Frankenmuth, the opponent that night, for the Tri-Valley Conference East title (although Otisville LakeVille on Wednesday also will be a challenge).
Fowlerville (4-0) – Two of the first four wins have come by three points apiece and a third was by only six, but Fowlerville will take them gladly; the Gladiators have equaled their total of a year ago, when they finished 4-17.
Grand Rapids South Christian (4-0) – Former assistant Kim Legge took over this season for longtime successful coach Jim DeBruyn, and the Sailors haven’t missed a beat. Friday’s 46-45 win over rival Grand Rapids Christian kept them perfect so far.
Bath (4-0) – Winning 12 games each of the last two seasons, the Bees have been on the verge. They might be taking that next step this winter, with an early 51-31 win over Portland St. Patrick possibly making a difference in the Central Michigan Athletic Conference race.
Grand Rapids Covenant Christian (4-0) – The Chargers needed to bounce back from a 1-3 start last year to get back to .500, but things are off on a much better note with wins over Sparta (55-19) and Hudsonville Unity Christian (46-40) avenging December losses of a year ago.
Sand Creek (3-0) – The Aggies quietly improved from five wins two seasons ago to 14 last winter, and have continued the surge with last week’s 49-45 win over Adrian Lenawee Christian avenging one of last winter’s losses.
Traverse City St. Francis (2-1) – The Gladiators have sandwiched two nice wins around a first-week loss to Manistee; they kicked off the season beating Gaylord by seven, and edged Class D contender Frankfort last week 76-72.
Eben Junction Superior Central (3-2) – The Cougars went from 20 wins two seasons ago to 2-19 last winter, but are on their way back up again; Friday’s 49-33 victory over Rapid River put Superior Central already ahead of last winter’s squad.
Fulton-Middleton (2-0) – The Pirates were only 7-14 a year ago, but already have an impressive win – 49-40 over Fowler, a team featured in this report a week ago after its 2-0 start.
Lake Linden-Hubbell (4-0) – The Lakes are halfway to last season’s win total and looking for their first winning season in three after downing Watersmeet and Ewen-Trout Creek on back-to-back nights.
Wolverine (2-2) – The Wildcats earned their second win of the young season last week, 50-21. They won only four games total in 2014-15, not earning their second victory until Jan. 12.
PHOTO: Shepherd, in white, picked up its first win of the season last week against Sanford Meridian. (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.