Class B: Goodrich to Greatness

March 17, 2012

EAST LANSING – Flint Powers Catholic stood in the way for a long time. Then Detroit Country Day. Last season, Dearborn Divine Child stopped Goodrich one game short of its first championship chance.

So although the Martians talked early this season about remaining hungry despite their recent success, it’s hard to believe losing that drive was ever a possibility.

Goodrich was on the edge of elite then. But Saturday’s 60-53 win over Grand Rapids Catholic Central gave the Martians both their first MHSAA title and a final boost into that group of teams considered the state's best regardless of class.

It didn’t come easy. But it seemed nearly inevitable after the team advanced to the Quarterfinals in 2010 and the Semifinals a season ago.

“When we went into that huddle, Coach was speaking and we’re like, just hold your heads high. We’re fighting. We want this,” Goodrich senior Frankie Joubran said. “Because what it comes down to is who wants it more. I guess it showed."

Saturday’s Final was Goodrich’s first. The Martians, ranked No. 1 in Class B heading into the tournament, finished 28-0.

But just because Goodrich knocked off the reigning champion in the Semifinal, beating Grand Rapids Catholic (24-4) was anything but a formality.

Cougars seniors Shellis Hampton and Tiesha Stokes were in their third championship game in four seasons, and going for the 100th win of their four-year varsity careers. Stokes had 19 points and 11 rebounds Saturday and Hampton had 12 points and six assists.

After trailing by two at halftime, the Cougars led 40-39 with a quarter to play.

“We had a lot of things that didn’t go our way,” Goodrich coach Jason Gray said. “But eventually, we had that last run in us.”

Grand Rapids Catholic increased its lead to five with 5:32 to play. But the Martians finished on a 9-2 run thanks to scoring from four players over the final 2:07.

“We were pretty even on a lot of things, but a couple of possessions we missed some rebounds, and I think that killed us,” Grand Rapids Catholic coach Colleen Lamoreaux-Tate said. “It’s so back and forth, back and forth, and we needed to get some rebounds. It’s a one possession game all the time.”

Joubran led Goodrich with 16 points and junior guard Aketra Sevillian added 13.

Seven seniors will graduate from a team that finished 51-1 over the last two seasons. And the Martians also had a deeper inspiration to finish on top this season.

Longtime administrator Al Martus remains a legend in Goodrich and was close to both Gray and some of the team’s leaders. He began battling pancreatic cancer a year ago and died over the summer.

Photos of Goodrich’s state champions hang in the hallway outside the gym. So does a large picture of Martus. And next to that is a blank spot soon to be occupied by the team he provided with so much.

“It was weird, but we didn’t talk about it a lot as a team. But it was always there,” Gray said. “I don’t know if we kept quiet because we didn’t want to end up in the same situation or feel bad again.

“He was a great man, a great boss to me, and great mentor to the girls. And I know he’d be very proud of the effort they put forth this year.”

Click for the box score. Watch the game and both teams' postgame press conferences at 

PHOTOS: (Top) Goodrich celebrates its first MHSAA championship. (Photo courtesy of Terry McNamara Photography.)

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.