Countdown to Calvin: Girls Quarterfinal Preview

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

March 19, 2019

The clock is ticking as the Countdown to Calvin will be over by the time this evening is done.

All 16 Girls Basketball Quarterfinals will played at sites all over the state tonight, with winners advancing to Van Noord Arena and Semifinals beginning Thursday in Divisions 3 and 4.

Our final “Countdown to Calvin” report of 2018-19 – powered by MI Student Aid – takes a glance at all 16 Quarterfinals, which tip off at 7 p.m. unless noted. All Quarterfinals will be broadcast and viewable with subscription on Come back Wednesday night for a more in-depth look at our 16 finalists as they head into this weekend.


Saginaw Heritage (22-2) vs. Hartland (22-3) at Grand Blanc

Reigning Class A champion Heritage avenged a league title-deciding loss to Midland Dow with a 15-point win in the Regional Final, and a heralded group of seniors – Miss Basketball Award runner-up Moira Joiner (18.8 points per game), Shine Strickland-Gills (12.8) and Mallory McCartney (10.5) – are leading the repeat charge. Hartland is the power on the rise – the Eagles don’t have a senior starter. Junior Whitney Sollom (10.9 ppg, 8.6 rebounds per game) leads a balanced attack. Heritage won their Dec. 11 meeting 55-35.

Temperance Bedford (20-5) vs. Wayne Memorial (23-2) at West Bloomfield, 5 p.m.

There may not be a more balanced team left in the playoffs than Bedford, as no player averages more than 7.8 ppg and the two leading scorers don’t even start. The team’s only in-state losses this season came by two to 19-win Ann Arbor Pioneer – avenged by a six-point victory – and by one to 15-win Saline, avenged by 10 points in the rematch. Wayne is back after making the Semifinals a year ago, and its only losses this season were both to Division 2 favorite Detroit Edison. Senior guard Jeanae Terry, a University of Illinois recruit, leads an experienced group looking to take the final steps.

Southfield Arts & Technology (22-1) vs. St. Clair Shores Lakeview (19-5) at West Bloomfield

Only an early two-point loss to Heritage has kept Southfield A&T from a perfect run so far. The Warriors, semifinalists two years ago, boast a dangerous 1-2 punch of senior Alexis Johnson (19.2 ppg) and junior Cheyenne McEvans (17.1 ppg). Lakeview can win 20 games for the third straight season and is coming off its first Regional championship in this sport. The Huskies avenged one of their defeats in downing Fraser in the District Final.

Muskegon (20-4) vs. DeWitt (23-2) at Kalamazoo Loy Norrix

The Big Reds are repeat Regional champions and looking to take the next step as Miss Basketball finalist Alyza Winston (24.5 ppg) finishes her high school career. Muskegon has won 16 straight on the court and avenged its opening-night loss to East Kentwood in the Regional Semifinal. DeWitt has won at least 21 games the last three seasons and four of the last five, breaking through for its first Regional title since finishing Class A runner-up in 2015. Senior Annie McIntosh (14.8 ppg) has helped set pace for the Panthers, who have two losses by a combined eight points to rivals East Lansing and St. Johns – and avenged both. 


Cadillac (21-3) vs. Freeland (22-2) at Mount Pleasant

Freeland is coming off its third straight Regional title to set up this rematch of a 2017 Quarterfinal won by the Falcons. Junior Kadyn Blanchard (14.9 ppg) leads three players scoring in double figures for a team that has won 18 straight and lost only to Division 1 Heritage and Dow. Cadillac won the Big North Conference title by a wide margin on the way to its second Regional title. Sophomore guard Molly Anderson (16 ppg) also leads three scoring in double digits.

Grand Rapids South Christian (15-9) vs. Hamilton (24-0) at Hope College

Somewhat quietly, Hamilton is a combined 71-6 over the last three seasons with two straight Regional titles. The Hawkeyes will try to follow last year’s first-ever Quarterfinal berth with a first trip to the Semifinals, and beat South Christian 62-42 in their season opener. Sophomore 6-foot-2 center AJ Ediger leads at 20.2 ppg. The Sailors have rebounded from a 2-5 start and upset Muskegon Oakridge in the Regional Final. Senior guard Sydney Cleary (12.3 ppg) leads a balanced lineup.

Haslett (18-6) vs. Chelsea (24-1) at Fowlerville

Chelsea has reached the Quarterfinals for the first time, its only loss by two to Division 1 Ann Arbor Pioneer in the regular-season finale. Haslett has won 13 of its last 15 and avenged two losses to Williamston and one to Jackson Northwest by eliminating both during the postseason. Both teams have one player scoring in double digits – for Chelsea, senior guard Abigale Fullerton leads at 11.6 ppg, while senior guard Ella McKinney paces Haslett at 13.7 ppg.

Detroit Edison (24-1) vs. Goodrich (14-10) at St. Clair County Community College

Edison is the reigning Class C champion and features newly-honored Miss Basketball winner Rickea Jackson (22.1 ppg, 8.1 rpg). Junior Gabrielle Elliott (17.4 ppg) and sophomore Damiya Hagemann (14 ppg, 8.1 apg) would star for most other teams in the state. Edison’s only loss came to Ohio power Columbus Africentric, by five. Goodrich won its sixth Regional title this decade after entering the postseason .500. Junior guard Maddie Voelker (24.2 ppg) leads a rising team with no seniors. 


Ishpeming Westwood (24-1) vs. Lake City (21-2) at Gaylord

Westwood is making its first Quarterfinal appearance since 2008; Lake City is making its first since 1976. The Patriots’ only loss came to rival Negaunee and has been avenged twice. Junior guards Madelyn Koski (15.8 ppg) and Tessa Leece (15.2) make up a strong backcourt. After finishing second to Manton in the Highland Conference, Lake City hasn’t had a playoff game closer than 14 points. Junior forward Rylie Bisballe (16.8 ppg) leads three averaging double-digit scoring.

Royal Oak Shrine (20-5) vs. Flint Hamady (19-5) at Lapeer, 6 p.m.

Hamady is back for its seventh Quarterfinal this decade after missing the final week last season. All of the Hawks’ losses were to Division 1 and 2 teams, including one to Goodrich (noted above), and they handed Hemlock its only loss this season in winning the Regional Final. Shrine is making its first Quarterfinal appearance since 1995 after winning league regular-season and tournament titles and beating two league champs in last week’s Regional. Senior guard Grace Murray leads at 15 ppg.

Adrian Madison (23-1) vs. Ypsilanti Arbor Prep (18-6) at Tecumseh

Madison is riding high from its first Regional championship, with only a four-point loss to 15-win Manchester keeping it from perfection so far this winter. Center Laura Teunion-Smith (13 ppg, 12 rpg) is one of four senior starters who have contributed to this historic run. Arbor Prep has made six straight Quarterfinals and is seeking to make its fifth straight Semifinal. Freshman Mya Petticord has stepped in big this winter at 19.3 ppg and 3.3 assists per game.

Pewamo-Westphalia (24-1) vs. Niles Brandywine (23-2) at Middleville Thornapple Kellogg

The Pirates, the 2017 Class C runners-up and 2018 semifinalists, also have lost only to Edison this season as they seek their first championship. Junior forward Hannah Spitzley and junior guard Ellie Droste are the leading scorers, both at 13.9 ppg. Brandywine won its seventh Regional title this decade and first since 2016, with losses only to Division 2 Comstock. Junior guard Zakiyyah Abdullah leads at 14.1 ppg. 


Baraga (21-3) vs. St. Ignace (25-0) at Escanaba

St. Ignace has made the Quarterfinals every season this decade and is seeking to return to the Semifinals for the first time since 2015. Senior 6-foot forward Emily Coveyou scores 22.9 points and grabs 10.2 rebounds per game for a team that has won all five of its postseason matchups by at least 42 points. Baraga steps in coming off its first Regional title since 1993 and with a win over 2018 Class D runner-up Chassell along the way. Five of the team’s seven players are underclassmen, with sophomore Rylie Koskinen (11.2 ppg) and senior Martina Jahfetson (11 ppg) leading the way.

Clarkston Everest Collegiate (14-9) vs. Kingston (23-2) at Burton Bendle, 6 p.m.

Kingston is playing in its fourth Quarterfinal in five seasons and again seeking to make the Semifinals for the first time. Senior Lily Lyons (11.2 ppg) is the lead scorer for a team that has fallen only to Division 1 Utica Eisenhower and Oxford. Everest Collegiate also is seeking its first Semifinal berth and has made it this far once before, in 2014. The Mountaineers are paced by 6-0 senior center Katelyn Allen (15 ppg, 11.1 rpg).

Gaylord St. Mary (22-2) vs. Fowler (16-7) at Clare

After winning its fifth Regional title this decade, St. Mary is looking to reach the Semifinals for the first time since 2002. The Snowbirds’ only losses were to Division 2 Escanaba and Division 3 Traverse City St. Francis. Senior guard Livee Jeffers leads at 14.4 ppg. Fowler is in its first Quarterfinal and seeking its first Semifinal both since finishing Class D runner-up in 1999. The Eagles, playing in the same league as Pewamo-Westphalia among a group of strong teams from larger schools, are paced by freshman guard Mia Riley (11.7 ppg) and sophomore guard Sarah Veale (11.3).

Fruitport Calvary Christian (20-5) vs. Adrian Lenawee Christian (23-2) at Richland Gull Lake

Calvary Christian has built on seven straight league and six straight District titles with its first Regional championship. Junior 6-0 guard Kelsey Richards leads three in double figures averaging 20.5 ppg. Calvary now must face reigning Class D champion Lenawee Christian, led again by 6-2 sophomore forward Bree Salenbien (23.6 ppg, 9.0 rpg) and junior guard Dani Salenbien (13.6 ppg).  

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: Kingston's Hannah James goes to the basket against Akron-Fairgrove in a Division 4 District Semifinal win. (Click for more from Varsity Monthly.)

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.