Countdown to Calvin: Girls Report Post-Break
January 8, 2018
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
The girls basketball holiday break over the last three weeks featured some shaking up among the usual powers in Flint, Midland and Detroit.
It will be especially intriguing to see if that early re-ordering was a sign of things to come as the first full week of 2018 is loaded with opportunities for recent risers to take over top spots.
Countdown to Calvin is powered by MI Student Aid and based on results and schedules posted for each school at MHSAA.com. To offer corrections, email me at [email protected].
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Flint Beecher 52, Flint Hamady 39 – The Buccaneers had seen the last four seasons end against Class C power Hamady, having suffered three losses to the Hawks in 2016-17 alone.
2. Midland 49, Midland Dow 37 – Dow had owned this rivalry with seven straight wins over the last three seasons.
3. Detroit Edison Public School Academy 70, Detroit Martin Luther King 42 – The reigning Class C champion is considered perhaps the best team in the state regardless of class, and downing the Class A Crusaders helped that argument.
4. DeWitt 40, Howell 36 – This pair of Class A contenders is a combined 16-2, with this the Highlanders’ only defeat this season.
5. Jackson Northwest 66, Coldwater 64 (OT) – Both have only one loss and should be in the mix in the ultra-competitive Interstate 8 Athletic Conference race.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each class making sparks:
Ann Arbor Huron (8-1) – The River Rats are undefeated since falling to DEPSA in their season opener. They got past always-solid Grand Haven by six at the Motor City Roundball Classic and are tied for first in the Southeastern Conference Red in part because of a one-point win over Temperance Bedford (6-2). Huron won the league and made the Quarterfinals last season.
Saginaw Heritage (7-0) – The Hawks are playing for a fourth straight finish with at least 20 wins, and have allowed two opponents to get within 16 points so far this winter. Heritage handed losses to both Flint Carman-Ainsworth and Freeland (both 6-2), the two teams that have gotten the closest to matching up.
Jackson Northwest (6-1) – With the top four teams in the Interstate 8 a combined 25-3, and annual Class B power Marshall not among them, the league is stacking up as potentially one of the state’s strongest. Northwest, last season’s I8AC runner-up, has fallen this season only to also one-loss Battle Creek Harper Creek, by three.
Kalkaska (7-0) – The Blazers didn’t get their first real scare last season until suffering their first loss, in February, but survived a two-point win against Lake City to finish 2017. Coming up Friday is Traverse City St. Francis, which joined Kalkaska as last year’s Lake Michigan Conference co-champion.
Negaunee (9-0) – After finishing second to Norway in the Mid-Peninsula Athletic Conference last season, the Miners are surging and don’t have to deal with the Knights, now in the Skyline Central Conference instead. Not that it would matter; Negaunee has won all of its games by at least 14 points, Ishpeming getting the closest in suffering its lone loss.
Pittsford (8-0) – Now in Class C, and after graduating all-state pair Maddie Clark and Jaycie Burger, Pittsford just keeps winning. The two-time reigning Class D champ has won 63 straight games, building the sixth-longest streak in MHSAA history. Only Manchester has gotten within single digits.
Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart (7-0) – Sacred Heart, the 2014 Class D champion and 2016 runner-up, would have no problem moving into the spot Pittsford has vacated. Four wins of at least 40 points, including one against Class C Carson City-Crystal (6-2), make the Irish look geared up for a run already.
Waterford Our Lady (6-2) – The Lakers opened 1-2 with losses to reigning Class B champion Detroit Country Day and runner-up Ypsilanti Arbor Prep. They’ve since rattled off five straight wins including two over Class A Bloomfield Hills and West Bloomfield.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – East Kentwood (9-0) at Caledonia (7-0) – East Kentwood beat Caledonia three times last season on the way to finishing Class A runner-up, but by only five and four during the regular-season meetings.
Tuesday – Saginaw Valley Lutheran (4-1) at Hemlock (7-0) – These two tied for second in the Tri-Valley Conference West last season but hold the top two spots early this winter.
Thursday – DEPSA (6-0) at Ypsilanti Arbor Prep (6-2) – With Arbor Prep moving into Class C this school year, this could be a matchup of the two best teams in that class.
Friday – Laingsburg (5-0) at Pewamo-Westphalia (7-0) – No one has challenged the reigning Class C runner-up Pirates so far, but Laingsburg could be the first; the Wolfpack was one of only four teams to come within single digits (twice) of P-W last season.
Friday – Kalkaska (7-0) at Traverse City St. Francis (3-1) – See explanation for Kalkaska above for why this could be pivotal in the Lake Michigan Conference race.
PHOTO: One of Saginaw Heritage’s closest wins of a perfect start came against Freeland at the end of December. (Click for more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)
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.