Breslin Bound: Girls Report Week 8
January 27, 2020
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
We could list the 20 most standings-shaking matchups coming up in girls basketball this week and probably call it good for this “Breslin Bound” report.
At least 15 games statewide will pit teams tied for first in their leagues, or teams that could be tied for first when the final buzzer sounds.
We make mention of many of those below as we look toward the final month of the regular season. “Breslin Bound” is powered by MI Student Aid and based on results and schedules posted for each school at MHSAA.com. Send corrections or missing scores to [email protected].
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Brighton 41, Hartland 33 – The veteran Eagles have been seen as Division 1 contenders – and that hasn’t changed – but this win moved Brighton into a first-place tie (with Howell as well) in the Kensington Lakes Activities Association West and also into that discussion of elite.
2. Hudsonville 45, Rockford 44 (2OT) – Two of Hudsonville’s three closest games have come the last two Fridays, and the Eagles moved to 10-0 following up a four-point win over 9-3 East Kentwood on Jan. 17 with this nail-biter against the 10-2 Rams.
3. Kent City 75, Morley Stanwood 33 – Six Kent City players combined for 16 3-pointers as the Eagles remained the only Central State Activities Association Silver team unbeaten in league play after handing Morley Stanwood its first loss overall.
4. Michigan Center 61, Springport 49 – After a 3-3 start facing some of the state’s top competition, Michigan Center is still making its way back up the Division 3 MPR but got another boost against Big 8 Conference leader Springport.
5. Hemlock 40, Ithaca 29 – Hemlock saw its 19-game league winning streak snapped by Saginaw Nouvel earlier this month but pushed back into a first-place tie in the Tri-Valley Conference West with Ithaca less than two weeks later by handing the Yellowjackets their first loss overall this winter.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
East Grand Rapids (11-1) The Pioneers sent league foe Grand Rapids Christian to 9-2 overall with a 64-40 win last week and can finish a perfect first run through the Ottawa-Kent Conference Gold on Friday at Middleville Thornapple Kellogg. The Pioneers – 20-3 last season – proved they were more than just league contenders in December with wins over Kalamazoo Central and Southfield Arts & Technology. EGR’s lone loss is nearly as impressive, 59-55 to still-unbeaten Hudsonville.
Jackson Northwest (10-1) The Class B runner-up and Interstate 8 Athletic Conference champion in 2017-18 fell back to second in the league a year ago. But the Mounties are working toward taking the title back, and a big week coming up will tell a lot about the chances to accomplish that and possibly more. Northwest opens Tuesday with Division 3 power Ypsilanti Arbor Prep and then Friday hosts rival Parma Western hoping to avenge a four-point loss to the Panthers from Dec. 13. Battle Creek Harper Creek also is tied with those two for first in the I8AC, and Northwest won their first meeting 44-41 in overtime.
Detroit Cody (11-1) After its most recent league title in 2016-17, Cody has hovered just above .500 over the last two seasons. But the Comets are contenders again and absolutely dominating, with their loss to Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern on Dec. 7 their only game that wasn’t a double-digit win. Cody is tied for first in the Detroit Public School League West with 10-1 Detroit Renaissance and faces the Phoenix in the league finale Thursday – although Cody also must be watchful against Mumford tonight.
Grand Rapids West Catholic (10-1) A win Tuesday against Comstock Park would give West Catholic as many victories this season as all of last, as the Falcons have made a massive jump with their only loss this winter to 10-2 Muskegon Reeths-Puffer by seven on Dec. 20. A win over the reigning league co-champ Panthers also would put West Catholic in first alone in the O-K Blue after it finished sixth in 2018-19.
Lake City (10-1) Coming off last season’s Division 3 Semifinal run, Lake City continues to ride high with its only loss two weeks ago to Morley Stanwood (see above). The Trojans quickly bounced back and handed rival Manton its only defeat 48-37 on Jan. 17. Although Manton remains No. 1 in Division 3 MPR, that win pushed Lake City ahead of Manton into first alone in the Highland Conference – and their rematch Feb. 18 is shaping up as one of the state’s biggest games of February.
Ishpeming Westwood (10-1) The Patriots’ rise from very good to elite in 2018-19 was not a one-and-done as they have continued to dominate this winter with their only loss to undefeated Menominee 52-47 on Dec. 18. Westwood sits alone atop the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference East thanks to Friday’s 45-35 win over rival Negaunee. That victory ran the Patriots’ win streak over the Miners to three – after losing their first meeting last season, Westwood won the second on the way to clinching the league title and then downed Negaunee again in District play.
Bellaire (11-0) After finishing second to Gaylord St. Mary in the Ski Valley Conference the last three seasons and losing 10 straight to the Snowbirds, Bellaire is the team to chase the rest of this season thanks to a 49-36 win over St. Mary on Wednesday. In addition to being in the league mix the last few years, Bellaire also won a District title last winter to set up this run that has included 10 straight double-digit victories.
Kingston (11-0) The Cardinals will put their 62-game league winning streak on the line Thursday against Deckerville, the last team to win a league game against Kingston – in 2013-14. The Cardinals have continued to roll after making last season’s Division 4 Semifinals and actually beat the Eagles 41-28 in their first meeting Dec. 16. With four teams at 7-4 or better, the North Central Thumb League Stars is among the state’s toughest small-school leagues this winter – and Kingston also has a 34-point win over NCTL Stripes leader Bay City All Saints.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – Farmington Hills Mercy (11-0) at Bloomfield Hills Marian (9-2) – The Marlins can pull within one more win of clinching the Detroit Catholic League Central title if they can follow up their 46-34 win over rival Marian from Jan. 7.
Thursday– Detroit Martin Luther King (9-0) at Detroit Cass Tech (10-1) – These rivals are the only unbeaten teams left in PSL East play; last season they shared the PSL Midtown title before Cass Tech downed King in a District Final.
Friday – Edwardsburg (11-1) at Three Rivers (10-1) – The Eddies are in jeopardy of seeing their three-season league-title streak come to an end as this will determine if Edwardsburg shares the Wolverine Conference South championship or Three Rivers clinches it outright.
Friday – Chesaning (10-1) at Byron (11-0) – The Eagles have shared three straight league championships, but have a one-game lead on Chesaning as they go for the outright Mid-Michigan Activities Conference title. Byron won the first meeting 48-32 on Dec. 20.
Friday – Midland (11-0) at Midland Dow (9-2) – With this perfect start including a 38-31 win over Dow on Dec. 19, Midland High has taken back local bragging rights and could accomplish much more this winter – but the Chargers await as potential spoilers.
Second Half’s weekly “Breslin Bound” reports are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Office of Postsecondary Financial Planning located within the Michigan Department of Treasury. MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 college savings programs (MET/MESP), as well as scholarship and grant programs that help make college Accessible, Affordable and Attainable for you. Connect with MI Student Aid at www.michigan.gov/mistudentaid and find more information on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.
PHOTO: Ishpeming Westwood’s Tessa Leece drives to the basket while being defended by Negaunee's Chloe Norman on Friday. (Photo by Cara Kamps.)
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.