Breslin Bound: Girls Report Week 3
December 19, 2016
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
The theme of this week’s Breslin Bound Girls Report – powered by MI Student Aid – is teams that were solid a year ago looking like they might be even better this winter.
Be it those we highlighted in last week’s five most intriguing games, or the eight teams grabbing attention for strong starts, we’ve got a group this week that bears watching as we get into the final week of 2016 and roll into the new year.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Port Huron Northern 64, Williamston 43 – The Huskies play in one of the state’s toughest leagues, the Macomb Area Conference Red, but look ready after beating Farmington Hills Mercy earlier and Saturday handing Williamston its first loss, at the Best of Michigan Classic.
2. Reese 47, Bay City John Glenn 33 – The Rockets are 5-1 with only an opening one-point loss against them, and this win over a Class B semifinalist from a year ago looks pretty strong next to earlier victories over Frankenmuth and Millington.
3. Flint Hamady 51, Goodrich 46 – Hamady moved over to the Genesee Area Conference Red this season after winning the Blue again last winter, and might be the favorite with this win over an annual frontrunner.
4. Northville 46, Canton 36 – Northville continues to hold the upper hand between these reigning Kensington Lakes Activities Association division champions; the Wildcats won the Central last season and then beat Canton in a District Semifinal as well after the Chiefs had won the KLAA South.
5. Detroit Edison PSA 57, Chicago Whitney Young 45 – Detroit Country Day also beat the Chicago power, but DEPSA’s win was more stunning and a sign the undefeated Pioneers are a potential force in Class C.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each class making sparks:
Jackson (4-1) – The Vikings improved from six wins two seasons ago to 11 last winter, but still fell twice to rival Jackson Northwest (by 36, and then 20 in the District). It will be interesting to watch how last week’s 53-46 win over the Mounties might push them forward.
Ypsilanti Community (6-0) – The Grizzlies, coming off 13-8 last season, opened with close wins over Belleville (47-41) and Pinckney (51-49) but have since beaten four straight teams by at least nine points. They handed Dexter its first loss 38-19 on Friday.
Frankenmuth (5-1) – The Eagles extended their Tri-Valley Conference East winning streak to 99 after one of the closest scares of their run, a 57-51 overtime win over Millington. The lone loss this season came nonleague against Reese, which might be one of the state’s best in Class C.
Tawas (4-0) – The Braves rallied for a second straight District title to close last season, but are surging out of the gate this winter. They’ve won their four games by an average of 25 points per and all by at least 17.
Centreville (5-1) – Since falling to Constantine by nine in its first game, Centreville has run off five straight victories including 41-40 in overtime over Athens a week ago; the loss was Athens’ first this season. Centreville was 13-7 a year ago.
Byron (6-0) – With only Morrice remaining among four teams that finished ahead of Byron in the GAC Blue last season, the Eagles are looking like potential title favorites. A 48-45 win over last season’s GAC Red champion Durand a few weeks ago and last week’s 42-40 win over New Lothrop are especially impressive.
Bark River-Harris (4-2) – The Broncos, from an unfortunate standpoint, equaled last season’s two losses in the first week of this winter. But the good news is Bark River-Harris has won four straight including a one-pointer over Big Bay de Noc last week.
Bellevue (6-0) – Former Eaton Rapids standout Kayla Whitmyer has built a solid program, and the Broncos look poised to take another step after going 17-7 in 2015-16. They’ve won all of their games by double figures, and beat reigning Southern Central Athletic Association West champion Climax-Scotts 57-41 on Friday.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – Midland Dow (5-0) at Detroit Country Day (4-0) – This will pit favorites for the Class A and B championships, respectively, as well as some of the state’s top guards.
Tuesday – Calumet (3-0) at Ishpeming (3-1) – Both will be competing for league championships this winter, Calumet in the West Peninsula Athletic Conference and the Hematites in the Mid-Peninsula Athletic Conference.
Tuesday – Rockford (2-2) vs. Grand Rapids Catholic Central (3-1) at Cornerstone University – These two make for an excellent first round in this annual event; sidenote: both have in common a loss to Muskegon Mona Shores.
Thursday – Marshall (3-1) at Richland Gull Lake (3-1) – The Blue Devils are off to a quick start after going 12-9 last season, but will really get to see how they measure up facing the reigning Class B champion.
Thursday – Freeland (5-0) at Saginaw Valley Lutheran (3-1) – The Class C Chargers are the only team to knock off powerful Reese, and will get a chance to conquer an impressive foe from Class B.
PHOTO: A Reese defender walls off a Frankenmuth player during the Rockets' 43-32 win on Dec. 2. (Click to see more from Varsity Monthly.)
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.