Breslin Bound: Girls Report Week 6

January 13, 2015

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Most if not all MHSAA girls basketball teams have reached the midpoints of their regular seasons, or will do so by this week’s end.

And many of the best we’ve seen so far are winners we’ve come to expect over the years – although this week’s list of teams to note again mixes in some that are shining much brighter in 2014-15 than in the recent past.

Class A

Farmington Hills Harrison (7-1) – The Hawks have opened 7-1 for the second straight season, with the only misstep to one-loss Ann Arbor Huron and only one win by fewer than 12 points; Harrison opens Oakland Activities Association Red play Friday against undefeated Rochester Adams.

Gaylord (6-1) – The Blue Devils’ showdown with Traverse City West last week for first place in the Big North Conference was postponed to Jan. 20; regardless, Gaylord earned wins against Cadillac by 15 and Charlevoix by 29 and hasn’t lost since opening night.

Saginaw Heritage (7-0) – The Hawks’ 2013-14 season ended abruptly with an overtime loss to Midland Dow in their District opener, but Heritage has avenged that one already this winter, by 10 points, its closest win as it’s moved to the top of the Saginaw Valley Association North.

St. Johns (6-3) – The Redwings’ losses are to teams with a combined record of 20-3, and they’ve won three straight – defeating Detroit Pershing, followed by 2014 Class A semifinalist Grand Ledge by three last week and then Owosso by 29.            

Class B

Goodrich (6-1) – The Martians have a combined five regular-season losses dating back to the start of the 2012-13 season, and the lone defeat this season was last month to Class A power Farmington Hills Mercy. All of Goodrich’s wins are by double figures, including 70-46 over second-place Flint Beecher last week in a matchup of the top two teams in the Genesee Area Conference Red.

Holland Christian (5-2) – The Maroons came back strong from a tough loss to Grand Rapids Christian with a 15-point win over East Grand Rapids and a 20-pointer over Hamilton last week – just in time for Friday’s matchup with rival Holland.

Hudsonville Unity Christian (5-1) – Holland Christian’s colleague in the Ottawa-Kent Green hasn’t lost since falling to Grand Rapids Christian before break and owns a 10-point win over reigning Class B runner-up Grand Rapids South Christian and a 29-pointer over Allendale from last week.

Macomb Lutheran North (8-0) – The Mustangs lead the Detroit Catholic League AA in part after last week defeating Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, the only team to beat Lutheran North during the regular season in 2013-14. That 35-16 win matched the other seven all in double figures.

Class C

Dryden (6-2) – The Cardinals improved from six wins in 2012-13 to 10 last season and look good to surpass that this winter with a pair of wins last week continuing a three-game streak.

Ithaca (7-0) – Longtime coach Bob Anderson keeps leading winning teams; last week’s 77-37 victory over St. Louis was the 1,130th game of Anderson’s coaching career, girls and boys combined, and he has the Yellowjackets on pace to cruise past last season’s total of 10 wins.

Saginaw Arts & Sciences (5-0) – The Dragons were a solid 14-7 a year ago and continue to improve, with last week’s 53-16 win over Owendale-Gagetown by far their biggest this season and a great way to jump into the Michigan Summit League schedule.

Tawas (9-1) – The Braves have surpassed last season’s 8-11 finish and have a pair of two-point wins – over Class A Bay City Central early and Class D contender Posen 38-36 on Monday.

Class D

Felch North Dickinson (4-3) – The Nordics are halfway to last season’s win total of eight and riding a three-game winning streak with the latest 69-46 over Skyline Central Conference opponent Powers North Central.

St. Ignace (6-3) – Never mind the Saints’ three losses; they are to teams that are all in Class C or larger and are a combined 19-4. St. Ignace kicked off the new year with big wins over Class C Charlevoix and Class A Sault Ste. Marie.

Kingston (8-2) – The North Central Thumb League leaders rebounded off a loss to Brown City in that school’s tournament final to beat Peck and Caseville both by more than 30 points last week; Kingston already owns one win against second-place Deckerville, with the rematch scheduled for Jan. 26.

Newberry (8-1) – The Indians are a three-point December loss to Munising from a perfect record this season and opened the new year with a 54-41 win over solid Engadine on Friday; Newberry and St. Ignace face off Thursday for first place in the Straits Area Conference.

PHOTO: Saginaw Heritage’s 44-24 win over Flint Powers Catholic on Jan. 7 was one of the most impressive of its 7-0 start this season. (Click for more from 

Little Provides Major Stride as 1st Woman to Officiate Boys Hoops Final since 1995

By Keith Dunlap
Special for

April 13, 2023

Delonda Little was already a trailblazer to many before this year’s MHSAA Boys Basketball Finals.

Greater DetroitBut 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 monitors the action between Flint Beecher and Traverse City St. Francis.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 DunlapKeith 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.