Class C Preview: Revved Up For Rematches

March 14, 2018

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

The most exciting basketball played at Van Noord Arena this weekend could feature a foursome of Class C powerhouses.

All four semifinalists making the trip to Calvin College in Grand Rapids played in Semifinals last season as well. Today’s first game features a rematch of last season’s Class C championship game – which Detroit Edison won 46-44 over Pewamo-Westphalia.

The second game features two more tournament veterans, Maple City Glen Lake and Ypsilanti Arbor Prep. The Gators finished runner-up in Class B last season and are the only team to beat Edison this winter.

Class C Semifinals – Thursday
Detroit Edison (22-1) vs. Pewamo-Westphalia (25-0), noon
Ypsilanti Arbor Prep (20-5) vs. Maple City Glen Lake (23-2), 2 p.m.

Class C Final – Saturday, 4 p.m.

Tickets cost $10 per pair of Semifinals and $10 per two-game Finals session (Class C and Class B). All Semifinals will be streamed live on and viewable on a pay-per-view basis. All four Finals will be broadcast live on Fox Sports Detroit and streamed live on and the FOX Sports Go! app. Free radio broadcasts of all weekend games will be available on

Below is a glance at all four semifinalists. Click on the name of the school to see that team’s full schedule and results from this season. (Statistics are through teams' Regional Finals.)

Record/rank: 22-1, No. 7 
League finish: Does not play in a league. 
Coach: Monique Brown, seventh season (101-36)
Championship history: Class C champion 2017. 
Best wins: 88-56 over No. 2 (tie) St. Ignace, 57-55 (OT) over Class A No. 3 Saginaw Heritage, 71-69 and 64-50 over Class A No. 10 Wayne Memorial, 66-40 over Class A No. 5 Ann Arbor Huron, 62-46 over Class B No. 2 Detroit Country Day.
Players to watch: Rickea Jackson, 6-3 jr. G (22.3 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 1.5 bpg); Gabrielle Elliott, 5-10 soph. G (16.4 ppg, 4.0 rpg). 
Outlook: Despite its relatively low final regular-season ranking in Class C, Edison is considered by many to be the top team in Michigan regardless of Class. Nearly all of its in-state wins during the regular season were against Class A or B teams, including as well a 70-42 defeat of annual power Detroit Martin Luther King. Jackson likely will be a Miss Basketball candidate next season; Elliott could be the same in 2020. Nine of 12 players are underclassmen, and freshman Damiya Hagemann is another intriguing talent averaging 9.1 points and 8.4 assists per game.

Record/rank: 23-2, No. 10
League finish: Second in Northwest Conference. 
Coach: Jason Bradford, 10th season (155-54)
Championship history: Class D champion 1978, runner-up 1979. 
Best wins: 60-56 over No. 2 (tie) St. Ignace in Quarterfinal, 66-35 over Charlevoix in Regional Final, 52-47 (District Semifinal) and 60-49 over Traverse City St. Francis, 55-48 over Manton in District Final, 53-36 and 48-40 over Benzie Central.
Players to watch: Savannah Peplinski, 5-8 sr. G (15.6 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 3.0 apg, 3.9 spg); Jennifer LaCross, 5-8 sr. F (11.6 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 3.1 spg).
Outlook: Glen Lake is back in the Semifinals for the second straight season, its only losses this time to Class B semifinalist and Northwest Conference rival Kingsley. Peplinski, LaCross, junior center Kaitlyn Schaub (9.0 ppg, 5.9 rpg) and senior forward Allie Bonzelet (10.2 ppg) also started last season. Glen Lake beat league champions in St. Francis (17-4), Manton (18-4) and St. Ignace (23-2) during the tournament, while Charlevoix (19-5) and Houghton Lake (15-8) rounded out a tough postseason slate that should have the team plenty prepared for this weekend.

Record/rank: 25-0, No. 1
League finish: First in Central Michigan Athletic Conference.
Coach: Steve Eklund, ninth season (180-34) 
Championship history: Three runner-up finishes (most recent 2017). 
Best wins: 45-30 over Kent City in Quarterfinal, 45-29 over Hemlock in Regional Final, 48-33 (Regional Semifinal), 44-20 and 53-19 over Laingsburg, 59-36 over honorable mention New Lothrop, 64-41 over Detroit Renaissance.
Players to watch: Emily Spitzley, 5-10 sr. G (17 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 65 3-pointers); Hannah Spitzley, 5-10 soph. F (10.5 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 3.1 spg).
Outlook: After falling by a basket to Edison in last season’s Final, P-W has been all but unstoppable beating opponents by an average of 40 points and with only Springport (18-5) in the District Final coming closer than 15. Laingsburg’s only losses this season in going 20-3 were to the Pirates. Kent City (22-4), Hemlock (21-4) and New Lothrop (20-3) all were league champions, and Class A Renassiance (16-8) was runner-up in the Detroit Public School League tournament. P-W makes 40 percent of its 3-point attempts; sophomore guard Ellie Droste (9.5 ppg) is another of six players with at least 15 makes from beyond the arc.

Record/rank: 20-5, honorable mention
League finish: Does not play in a league.
Coach: Scott Stine, first season (20-5)
Championship history: Class C champion 2016, Class B runner-up 2017.
Best wins: 61-55 over No. 2 Schoolcraft in Quarterfinal, 54-49 over No. 1 Detroit Edison, 66-65 over Class B No. 2 Detroit Country Day, 48-45 over Clarkston, 60-39 over Goodrich.
Players to watch: Lasha Petree, 6-0 sr. G (20.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 5.4 spg, 42 3-pointers, Mahri Petree, 5-11 jr. G (10.8 ppg, 5.7 rpg).
Outlook: In addition to being the only team to hand Edison a loss this season, the Gators faced a schedule of nearly all Class A and B opponents. Class A Clarkston (18-5) and Class B Goodrich (20-5) were league champs, and Arbor Prep also avenged an earlier loss to another Class B league champ in Harper Woods Chandler Park (17-7). Lasha Petree was a Miss Basketball finalist this season and scores more than 40 percent of her team’s points, on average. Junior forward Kashyra Jackson is another contributor, averaging 6.1 points and 4.9 rebounds per game with a team second-best 16 3-pointers.

PHOTO: Detroit Edison's Rickea Jackson works for an open shot surrounded by Pewamo-Westphalia defenders during last season's Class C Final.

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.