Breslin Bound: Girls Report Week 9
January 30, 2017
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Girls basketball teams across Michigan made it especially difficult last week to pull out only the brightest highlights for today's Breslin Bound report – powered by MI Student Aid.
With the start of Districts now just a month away, the shuffling has begun in full force with a number of teams making moves up their respective league standings and into view as possible MHSAA championship contenders.
Below you'll find notes on a number of teams on the move, with plenty more to come as the tournament draws near.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Grand Rapids Catholic Central 42, Marshall 34 – GRCC improved to 12-1 by avenging last season’s Quarterfinal loss to the eventual Class B champion Redhawks, who have lost only twice this season.
2. Ypsilanti Arbor Prep 53, Ann Arbor Huron 33 – The Gators ran their winning streak to 23 going back to last season’s Class C title run, and also beat Huron for the first time in three years as they pursue the top spot in Class B this winter.
3. Freeland 58, Ithaca 35 – The Falcons' undefeated run enjoyed its most impressive week with a pair of Tri-Valley Conference crossover wins; in this one the Central leaders gave West first-place Ithaca its first defeat since opening night.
4. Rockford 69, East Kentwood 66 – The Rams improved to only .500 with this win, but showed the strength of the Ottawa-Kent Conference Red by edging the league-leading Falcons.
5. Sault Ste. Marie 49, St. Ignace 44 – The Blue Devils finished a sweep of their Straits Area Conference rival for the first time in more than a decade to take a comfortable lead in the league standings.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each class making sparks:
Hartland (11-1) – The Eagles’ 15-5 finish last season included four losses to Howell, including in their lone District game. But Hartland’s only loss this season was to reigning Class A champion Detroit Martin Luther King. The Eagles also beat Howell by 20 two weeks ago to take a one-win lead in the Kensington Lakes Activities Association West standings.
East Lansing (12-1) – After a one-point lost to DeWitt at the start of December, East Lansing has won 11 straight and 10 of those by double digits. The Trojans ended Muskegon’s five-game winning streak Saturday with a 52-34 win at the East Grand Rapids Showcase.
Marysville (10-4) – The Vikings have won seven of their last eight and handed Marine City its first loss of the season, 40-30 on Tuesday. Both now have only one loss in the Macomb Area Conference Gold, which Marysville won in going 21-3 overall last season.
Goodrich (9-4) – After falling back just a bit, relatively speaking, to 18-4 last winter, the Martians picked up four defeats in five games over the new year. But they haven’t lost in their last five and moved into first place alone in the Genesee Area Conference Red with a 54-36 win over Flint Hamady on Friday. A five-point loss to Hamady on Dec. 16 had started that brief slide.
Detroit Edison PSA (10-1) – The Pioneers have taken a giant step after a series of solid finishes. Wins over Chicago Whitney Young and Canton were among the most impressive early, but last week alone included victories over Detroit East English (64-44) and Dearborn Heights Robichaud (71-64) – bigger schools with a combined 17-7 record. The loss came over the weekend to Class A power King.
Watervliet (11-2) – The Panthers opened this season with two losses but haven’t looked back, and with a pair of wins last week surpassed their 10 victories of last winter. They lead reigning champion Gobles in the Southwestern Athletic Conference Lakeshore thanks to a three-point win over the Tigers on Jan. 6.
Ewen-Trout Creek (8-2) – The Panthers finished 5-18 last season but showed a spark at the end by reaching the District Final. That momentum has carried over to an 8-2 start as they've pushed into first place in the Porcupine Mountain division of the Copper Mountain Conference.
Fruitport Calvary Christian (12-1) – The high-scoring Eagles are at it again with at least 70 points in five games this season including three of their last four. Calvary Christian also has avenged two of last season’s four losses with a 45-point win over Hart and five-pointer over fellow Alliance League contender Wyoming Tri-unity Christian.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Monday – Detroit East English (10-3) at Detroit Martin Luther King (12-1) – This is the last game before the start of the Detroit Public School League tournament, and East English can show how far it’s come since falling to the Crusaders by 21 on Jan. 12.
Tuesday – Williamston (12-1) at East Lansing (12-1) – Both of these Lansing-area teams have high postseason aspirations, and this one could indicate which might have the best shot in March.
Thursday – Detroit Edison PSA (10-1) at Detroit Country Day (11-0) – Edison, discussed above, is emerging as a Class C contender and can show how significantly against another of Class B's elite.
Friday – Canton (9-3) at Wayne Memorial (9-2) – Wayne holds a one-win lead in the KLAA South standings thanks to a three-point win in these teams’ first meeting three weeks ago; Canton won the league after the teams split last season.
Saturday – Kalkaska (9-0) at St. Ignace (10-2) – Two of the best from northern Michigan face off in an afternoon matchup; the Saints' only losses are those mentioned above to Sault Ste. Marie.
PHOTO: Freeland continued its undefeated run this season with a win over Ithaca in a Tri-Valley Conference crossover of league leaders. (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.