Breslin Bound: Girls Report Week 6
January 11, 2016
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
As we head toward the midpoint of this girls basketball season, a few intriguing teams are making us keep an eye out thanks to wins over opponents who traditionally don’t lose much.
Read on for the details on why Detroit Renaissance and Durand have become teams to watch – plus a look at 14 more that stood out not only over the last week, but during the first six of the season so far.
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.
Detroit Renaissance (8-1) – The Phoenix could be Detroit’s best for the first time since finishing Class A runner-up in 2011; Renaissance’s only loss is to undefeated Bay City John Glenn, and it’s beaten usual Detroit leader Detroit Martin Luther King (68-65 on Dec. 17) in addition to strong teams Detroit Henry Ford, Farmington Hills Harrison and Manistee.
Grosse Pointe North (6-0) – The Norsemen have finished a few wins above or below .500 every season of this decade and exactly even a year ago, but have won all of their games by double digits so far and are more than halfway to equaling last season’s 11 victories.
Utica Eisenhower (8-0) – The Eagles came off a solid 15-8 and second-place league finish a year ago, but have stormed to this start with six wins by at least 12 points including their first in Macomb Area Conference White play over Clinton Township Chippewa Valley on Friday.
St. Johns (6-2) – The Redwings broke into the Capital Area Activities Conference Red hunt coming back off a December loss to leader DeWitt by handing former co-leader Haslett its first loss, 52-40 on Friday, after losing to the Vikings by 33 and 19 last season.
Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard (6-0) – The Fighting Irish have risen steadily the last three seasons and tied Macomb Lutheran North for the Catholic League AA title last season; they’ve got the upper hand this time after downing Lutheran North 43-35 last week.
Center Line (6-1) – The Panthers are regulars lately at the top of their Macomb Area Conference division and look like potential favorites in the Gold this winter with two games holding opponents to single digits and two more keeping teams to fewer than 20 points.
Durand (6-2) – Not only are the Railroaders off to their best start since 2010-11, but they handed annual power Goodrich its first league loss since at least that long ago and now have a nice early advantage in the Genesee Area Conference Red standings.
Perry (5-0) – The Ramblers under coach Tim Beebe are 39-10 over the last two-plus seasons and have a game on the rest of the Greater Lansing Activities Conference pack – plus three two-point victories, including last week’s over above-mentioned Durand.
Adrian Madison (7-0) – The Trojans are working toward their fifth straight Tri-County Conference championship and own a one-game lead on two second-place teams including Morenci after Friday’s 59-28 win over the Bulldogs. No opponent has come closer than 10 points so far.
Detroit Cristo Rey (6-1) – One more win this season will give Cristo Rey its most since 2011-12, and all six this winter have come by double digits and with five opponents scoring 18 or fewer points.
Marlette (6-1) – The Red Raiders already earned a big boost in the Greater Thumb Conference East, bouncing back from their lone loss to beat reigning champion Sandusky before the break; the next big matchup is Friday against league co-leader Harbor Beach.
Ypsilanti Arbor Prep (8-1) – A Class C semifinalist last season, Arbor Prep again has loaded the schedule to prepare for another run and owns a nice win over Manistee, with its only loss to Class A Ann Arbor Huron. Waterford Kettering, Saginaw Nouvel, Bay City John Glenn, Bloomfield Hills Marian and Detroit Country Day are among opponents coming up.
Detroit Public Safety Academy (5-1) – This is the Eagles’ first season of MHSAA Tournament eligibility, and they’re looking like an interesting possibility to do something in Class D; last week’s win came over Dearborn Advanced Tech, which beat above-mentioned Cristo Rey, and Public Safety also owns a victory over Class B Detroit Osborn.
Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart (8-0) – Keyed by dominating center Averi Gamble, Sacred Heart again is navigating a strong nonleague schedule in addition to some good competition in the Mid-State Activities Conference; she had eight of her team’s 22 points in last week’s four-point win over league foe and previously-undefeated Carson City-Crystal. The Irish beat Gaylord St. Mary (6-2) earlier in the week.
St. Joseph Michigan Lutheran (5-1) – The Titans did open last week with a 52-47 loss to once-defeated Class B Buchanan, but came back to beat rival St. Joseph Lake Michigan Catholic 46-41 and take a two-game lead in the Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph Conference White.
Stephenson (7-0) – After losing five of their final seven to finish last season 10-10, the Eagles have bounced back well with six wins by at least 16 points plus a 56-53 victory last week over Class B Gladstone.
PHOTO: A St. Louis shooter prepares to launch; the Class C Sharks are 5-0 this season. (Click for more photos 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.