Class D Final: Lakers complete 3-peat
March 17, 2012
EAST LANSING – In the first quarter it was Ava Doetsch. In the second, Lexie Robak.
And at the end of Saturday’s third quarter at the Breslin Center, when Waterford Our Lady was strengthening its grip on its next MHSAA Class D title, Tori Duffey came through.
Unlike their first two title runs, this season’s Lakers didn’t have a proven star like 2011 grad and current Oakland University freshman Lauren Robak to take every big shot. The time, they had many.
Our Lady’s 53-37 win over Athens capped a third-straight Class D championship season in the same way the Lakers had won all season – with help from a variety of contributors who took on changed and increased roles this winter.
“People ask us, ‘How do you get excited? You’re going there again.’ The second time they were still saying how is it still exciting,” said Doetsch, who has played on all three MHSAA champions. “Not a lot of people get to come and play under these circumstances. To be with the same people … it’s really exciting to me. For this game, I was more excited than my freshman year.”
Our Lady, which entered the tournament ranked just No. 7 in Class D, finished 23-4 this season. Over the last four, the Lakers have a record of 90-16, with four District and Regional championships to go with three wins at the MHSAA Finals.
Juniors Lexie Robak and Jessica Parry have joined Doetsch on all three championship teams.
“You don’t believe it the first time. You don’t feel like it’s real,” Parry said. “Who does that, three in a row? It’s a crazy feeling.”
It began to set in with some big shots by Robak at the end of the second quarter, and took solid hold after Duffey’s barrage to finish the third.
The Lakers led Athens by just a basket, 21-19, with 2:49 to play in the first half when Robak drained consecutive 3-pointers and another shot to push the advantage to 10 heading into halftime.
Athens (21-6) cut the lead back to eight before Robak hit a jumper and Duffey, a senior, knocked down two 3-pointers and nabbed a steal as Our Lady closed the third quarter up 42-26.
For the game, the Lakers made 56 percent of their shots from the floor including 6 of 12 tries from 3-point range. Athens made just 28 percent of its shots, and 2 of 10 from behind the arc.
“They had really good shooters. That’s something we haven’t seen a lot of this season,” Athens sophomore guard Payton Wood said. “Some teams have had definite 3-point shooters than we knew we had to stay on. But they are just all-around a great shooting team, and (that’s) just something that took over the game.”
Duffey and Doetsch both scored 13 points to lead Our Lady. Doetsch had nine points, two rebounds and a steal in the first quarter to help the Lakers keep pace before beginning their break-away in the second. Robak finished with 12 points.
“Instead of having to always go to one player, we had five or six we always get the ball to, to count on them to score that lay-up or basket,” Doetsch said. “The other team didn’t know who we were going to pass it to, and that made it a lot more fun … because no one knew who we were going to get the ball to to score.”
Athens – making its first MHSAA Final appearance – had just two seniors this season. Sierra Stevens capped her high school career with a game-high 15 points.
Click for the box score. Watch the game and both teams' postgame press conferences at MHSAA.tv.
PHOTOS: (Top) Waterford Our Lady celebrates its third-straight Class D championship. (Photo courtesy of Terry McNamara Photography.) (Middle) Athens guard Leo Plaisir drives around Our Lady guard Anna Robb. Plaisir scored four points Saturday. (Photo courtesy of Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)
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.