Countdown to Calvin: Girls District Preview

March 4, 2019

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

The countdown to this season’s Girls Basketball Finals at Calvin College speeds up significantly beginning tonight.

Teams all over Michigan will start District play culminating in 128 championships at the first level of the tournament this weekend. Check out “Tracking the Tournament” on for every matchup from all of them, and see below for some of last week’s most eye-popping scores and three Districts in each division that could be especially important pieces to the final puzzle of this girls basketball season.

Countdown to Calvin is powered by MI Student Aid and based on results and schedules posted for each school at To offer corrections or fill in scores we’re missing, email me at [email protected].

Week in Review 

The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:  

1. Saginaw Heritage 55, East Lansing 53 – This rematch of last season’s Class A Final also went the Hawks’ way after they won by 21 at Calvin College a year ago.

2. Bloomfield Hills Marian 60, Detroit Mumford 47 – The Detroit Catholic League Tournament champ avenged last season’s loss to Public School League winner Mumford in the Operation Friendship game.

3. Ann Arbor Pioneer 41, Chelsea 39 – The Pioneers’ victory in this matchup of Southeastern Conference divisional champions also was Chelsea’s only loss of the regular season.

4. Wayne Memorial 61, Brighton 48 – East champ Wayne finished the Kensington Lakes Activities Association Tournament having beaten both co-champs of the KLAA West.  

5. Stanton Central Montcalm 65, Kent City 42 – The Hornets finished a second straight 20-0 regular season against White Cloud two days later, but 16-win Kent City was one of the toughest obstacles to repeating perfection this winter.  

Districts at a Glance

These could be among our most competitive brackets. Host sites are in bold:


Detroit Mumford
Detroit Mumford (15-4), Detroit Renaissance (13-6), Oak Park (5-9), Redford Union (13-5), Southfield Arts & Technology (18-1).

With only a Dec. 8 loss to last year’s Class A champion Saginaw Heritage – and by just two points at that – Southfield A&T has been considered a Division 1 favorite all season. Double-digit wins over Flint Carman-Ainsworth and Detroit Country Day, plus a league sweep of Royal Oak, have backed up that expectation. But the Warriors will have to go through the best of the Detroit Public School League West-Town to get through this week. On Wednesday, A&T will face West-Town co-champ Renaissance, which has a few more losses but against teams like Division 2 favorite Detroit Edison (twice) and Mumford (twice). On the other side of this bracket, Mumford shared the West-Town title because of a split with Renaissance in league play, but won the PSL Tournament. But the Mustangs can’t look past Redford Union tonight.

East Grand Rapids
Byron Center (15-5), East Grand Rapids (18-2), East Kentwood (15-4), Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills (5-15), Wyoming (8-12).

Five of seven teams in the Ottawa-Kent Conference Red had winning records this season, making it even more impressive that East Kentwood against finished on top for the third straight season. But one of the Falcons’ few losses this winter came by four Dec. 18 to East Grand Rapids, which went on to sweep the O-K Gold and has won 15 straight games. Those two would meet again in this District Final – but of course, it’s not that easy. Byron Center finished second only to unbeaten Hamilton in the O-K Green and would see EGR in a Wednesday District Semifinal showdown.

Davison (11-9), Flint Carman-Ainsworth (15-5), Flint Kearsley (16-4), Flint Southwestern (1-15), Grand Blanc (15-5), Lapeer (6-14).

One of tonight’s most intriguing openers matches up Saginaw Valley League Blue champ Carman-Ainsworth against runner-up Grand Blanc; the Cavaliers won the regular-season meetings by nine and 13. On the other side, Kearsley finished second in a similarly strong Flint Metro League and gets a test right away against Blue third-place finisher Davison. Kearsley’s losses this winter were to league champ Fenton twice, Macomb Dakota and last week to Edison. Carman-Ainsworth also has seen most of the best, falling to Saginaw Heritage, Southfield Arts & Technology, Midland Dow, Michigan Center, and Edison on Thursday by only seven.


Bay City John Glenn
Bay City John Glenn (15-5), Essexville Garber (15-5), Freeland (18-2), Midland Bullock Creek (6-13), Saginaw Swan Valley (8-11).

In addition to winning four straight Tri-Valley Conference Central titles, including this season’s, Freeland has won seven straight District championships. But this bracket threatens that streak. On Freeland’s side is Garber, the TVC East champion. Freeland did beat Garber by 25 on Jan. 8, and the Dukes won’t get another chance unless they win tonight against Swan Valley, which they beat by a point in their season opener. On the other side of the bracket, John Glenn finished fourth in the Division 1-strong SVL Red, with three of its five losses to Heritage, Dow and Bay City Western. John Glenn also owns an early two-point win over Garber.  

Harper Woods
Detroit Denby (7-6), Detroit Edison (19-1), Detroit Osborn (9-5), Harper Woods (6-7), Harper Woods Chandler Park (16-4), St. Clair Shores South Lake (9-11).

As noted above, and all season many places, 2018 Class C champion Edison is a major favorite to win Division 2 with its only loss to Ohio powerhouse Columbus Africentric by five points Dec 15. The Pioneers spent the rest of the season beating many of the best across the Lower Peninsula. But Chandler Park, a Class C quarterfinalist last season, is an intriguing opponent should they meet Wednesday. The Eagles also have played many of the elite with some impressive results, including closing the regular season with successive wins over Detroit Cass Tech, Flint Hamady and Ypsilanti Arbor Prep.

Fruitport (3-17), Montague (11-9), Muskegon Oakridge (17-3), Muskegon Orchard View (3-13), Spring Lake (11-9), Whitehall (17-2).

Perhaps the most intriguing opener tonight, at least on the west side of the state, pits Oakridge against host Whitehall. Oakridge edged Whitehall by a win to claim the West Michigan Conference title, but Whitehall’s triple overtime victory in their first meeting Jan. 8 ended Oakridge’s 82-game league winning streak (Oakridge won the second meeting by 13 on Feb 8). Spring Lake finished fifth in a competitive O-K Blue and will be waiting Wednesday for whichever team comes out of what’s sure to be an emotional matchup, and Montague could be ready to play spoiler as well in the District Final.


Bloomingdale (16-4), Gobles (20-0), Kalamazoo Christian (12-6), Kalamazoo Hackett (9-10), Lawton (1-19), Schoolcraft (18-2).

Gobles won the Southwestern Athletic Conference Lakeshore and Schoolcraft won the SAC Valley, and they meet tonight in another of the biggest Division 3 openers statewide. Bloomingdale, which tied for second to unbeaten Centreville in the Southwest 10 Conference, awaits the winner. But because those three are on one side of the bracket doesn’t mean the District Final will be an easy victory for whichever team emerges. Hackett knocked Gobles out of the District the last two seasons, while Kalamazoo Christian finished third in the SAC Valley this winter and has won seven of its last 10 games with just a four-point loss to Bloomingdale on Thursday.

Elk Rapids
Elk Rapids (15-5), Grand Traverse Academy (7-5), Manton (16-3), Maple City Glen Lake (18-2), Traverse City St. Francis (10-9).

Manton from the Highland Conference and Glen Lake from the Northwest Conference are league champions, and host Elk Rapids finished second in the Lake Michigan Conference that St. Francis won just a year ago. Manton and Glen Lake get things started tonight in a rematch after Glen Lake won 37-34 on Feb. 6 and also knocked Manton out of the District last season. Elk Rapids awaits in the District Semifinal having lost to both this season. Glen Lake’s only defeat came Dec. 8 by four to Ypsilanti Arbor Prep.

Carson City-Crystal (17-3), Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian (16-4), Ithaca (12-6), Pewamo-Westphalia (19-1), Saranac (4-16).

After reaching the Class C Final two years ago and Semifinals last season, P-W has been a major Division 3 favorite all winter. Its only loss was to Edison on Jan 21, and the Pirates came back a week later and beat Country Day, to go with an earlier impressive 20-point win over Dow. But again, there are obstacles this first week of the tournament. NorthPointe Christian awaits Wednesday after winning the O-K Silver. On the other side of the bracket, Mid-State Activities Conference champion Carson City-Crystal has won 15 straight including an 11-pointer over 18-2 Reese.


Athens (16-4), Battle Creek Calhoun Christian (16-4), Battle Creek St. Philip (8-12), Bellevue (20-0), Climax-Scotts (12-8).

Four of these five teams are in the Southern Central Athletic Association West, won by Bellevue with Athens finishing runner-up. Bellevue won their two regular-season games by one in double overtime and then last week by 16. They could meet again in this week’s District Final. Calhoun Christian faces Athens on their side of the bracket Wednesday, with a loss to Bellevue in December as well but a 20-point win over Athens in the season opener Dec. 4.

Baraga (16-3), Chassell (13-6), Dollar Bay (0-18), Hancock (11-9), L’Anse (11-9), Lake Linden-Hubbell (7-13).

Chassell was last year’s Class D runner-up and hosts a competitive group this week with the chance for a third meeting in the District Final against Baraga. The Vikings won the Copper Mountain Conference Copper Country title with Chassell second this winter, downing the Panthers by 11 and three points in their regular-season matchups. Hancock and L’Anse finished tied for second and fourth, respectively, in the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference Copper and will try to play spoilers on their sides of the bracket. L’Anse handed Baraga one of its few defeats, by 12 on Dec. 14.

Adrian Lenawee Christian (18-2), Britton Deerfield (6-13), Morenci (9-11), North Adams-Jerome (4-15), Pittsford (16-4), Waldron (13-5).

Lenawee Christian won Class D a year ago and has been considered a contender throughout this season. But only a few removed from its back-to-back title run in 2016 and 2017, Pittsford remains an opponent no one wants to face. They meet tonight, Lenawee’s only losses having come to Division 3 contenders Grass Lake and Michigan Center while Pittsford is riding a 10-game winning streak after suffering first-half losses to Hudson, Manchester, Bellevue and Athens before winning the SCAA East title. SCAA Central champion Waldron awaits the winner on Wednesday. Morenci on the other side of the bracket has bounced back from a 3-7 start this winter.

Second Half’s weekly “Countdown to Calvin” reports are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Student Financial Services Bureau located within the Michigan Department of Treasury. MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information, including various student financial assistance programs to help make college more affordable for Michigan students. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 savings programs (MET/MESP) and eight additional aid programs within its Student Scholarships and Grants division. Click for more information and connect with MI Student Aid on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.

PHOTO: Essexville Garber took a 41-40 win over Alma on Dec. 14 and will look to add a District title this week to its league championship won this winter. (Click for more from

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 kei[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.