Class D: Lakers Press On to Saturday

March 15, 2012

EAST LANSING – For three quarters Thursday, Waterford Our Lady struggled to find the gear that has allowed the Lakers to become Class D’s latest powerhouse program.

With 5 minutes, 32 seconds to play, everything clicked.

Game over.

Champions do that kind of thing. And Our Lady will go for its third straight Saturday after surviving a good scare from Portland St. Patrick before advancing with a 54-44 win.

“I feel like all game we were trying to find our rhythm. It’s an intense atmosphere being here, and you don’t really know what to expect,” Our Lady senior Tori Duffey said. “Something just kinda came over us. … We knew we had to do it now. We’re talented enough that we can do that.”

The No.7 Lakers (22-4) will face either Crystal Falls Forest Park or Athens at 10 a.m. Saturday.

Our Lady never trailed against Portland St. Patrick. The Lakers pushed their lead to double figures three times.

But St. Patrick, which owns six MHSAA titles and has sat in the favorite spot plenty of times, pulled within three points of the lead – 34-31 – with a quarter to play.

The Shamrocks entered the postseason unranked at 19-6. But they were 12-1 over their last 13 games. And it seemed like St. Patrick’s first lead, if gained, might be able to stand until the final buzzer.

“I guess I didn’t feel like they were the favorites coming in. I thought if we played well and took care of business, I thought it would be a two or four-point ball game,” Portland St. Patrick coach Al Schrauben said. “The way we played the second half of the year, I was quite comfortable playing with anybody.”

But with 5:32 to play, and the Lakers lead just 38-34, everything fell back into place for Our Lady.

Thanks in large part to a suffocating defensive press, the Lakers took advantage of five St. Patrick turnovers over just more than two minutes – and pushed the lead to 49-34.

“Even if the shots aren’t going in, and we make a couple of mistakes, the thing about this group is they never hang their heads,” Our Lady coach Steve Robak said. “They continued to play on the defensive end, and eventually good things happen.”

Senior Carlee Cottrell scored a game-high 17 points and had five assists for Our Lady, and junior Ava Doetsch added 14 points and four assists. Junior Lexie Robak had eight points and nine rebounds.

Juniors Tori Goodrich and Courtney Dixon each scored seven points for St. Patrick, and senior Sidney Hill had seven rebounds.

“When we were 7-5, I didn’t think we’d even get a District title,” Shamrocks senior Stephanie Miros said. “I love the girls on this team. We’re great friends. So it’s a great memory.”

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

PHOTO: Our Lady sophomore guard Anna Robb takes a shot Thursday. She scored four points. (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.