Countdown to Calvin: Girls Report Week 10
February 5, 2018
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Three weeks remain in this girls basketball season, and the Countdown to Calvin is starting to get louder.
League tournaments are either underway or will start this week in the Detroit Public School League, Detroit Catholic League, Charter School Conference or Macomb Area Conference. And while every team gets a fresh start with MHSAA Districts, those single-elimination league competitions definitely set a postseason mood.
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 or help us fill in missing scores, email me at [email protected].
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Flint Carman-Ainsworth 57, Bay City Western 52 – All Saginaw Valley League teams are in one division this year, and this created a three-team jam in second place behind Saginaw Heritage as Carman-Ainsworth handed Western its first loss of the season.
2. East Lansing 63, Williamston 43 – These teams entered both undefeated and among the highest-ranked in Class A and B, respectively; they enter this week a combined 30-1.
3. Pittsford 49, Athens 32 – Bellevue’s upset of Athens two days earlier stole some of the excitement (more on that below), but the Wildcats did win their 70th straight game over another Class D power that had entered the week undefeated.
4. Macomb Dakota 53, Port Huron Northern 51 – The Macomb Area Conference Red continues to be one of the state’s most competitive leagues, and at least a share of this season’s title went to Dakota with this close win over Northern, which faces the other possible co-champ Grosse Pointe North on Wednesday.
5. Flint Beecher 58, Flint Hamady 48 – While both are still chasing Class B Goodrich in the Genesee Area Conference Red, Beecher can claim a regular-season sweep of its frequent Class C-contending rival.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each class making sparks:
Hartland (10-4) – The Eagles can’t catch Howell and repeat as a league champion, but they did hand the Highlanders their first league loss and second of this winter on Friday, 41-37. The win was the fourth straight for Hartland, which is 7-2 over its last nine games and had fallen to Howell in overtime Jan. 9.
Walled Lake Western (13-1) – The Warriors sit atop the Lakes Valley Conference in the league’s first year, with a key matchup against second-place South Lyon East coming up Tuesday. Western on Jan. 26 avenged its lone loss with a 51-43 win over Waterford Kettering – those two shared the Kensington Lakes Activities Association North title last season.
Ida (13-1) – The Bluestreaks have already claimed a share of the Lenawee County Athletic Association championship thanks to a three-game lead on the field. They haven’t lost since falling in the opener to Adrian Lenawee Christian, which is also 13-1. Ida finished second in the league last year to Blissfield, its opponent Friday.
Muskegon Oakridge (12-3) – The Eagles’ West Michigan Conference winning streak is up to 75 games and stretches most of this decade. They downed second-place Shelby 61-43 on Thursday and can clinch a share of another league title Tuesday against Scottville Mason County Central. Oakridge will look to improve next month on last season’s District title and has taken good losses against Class A Grand Haven, Muskegon and Muskegon Reeths-Puffer.
Charlevoix (10-3) – The Rayders scored the final 13 points over the final 1:13 to beat Traverse City St. Francis on Friday, creating a two-way tie between the rivals atop the Lake Michigan Conference. Keep in mind Charlevoix was only 3-19 two seasons ago before improving to 18-7 in 2016-17. The losses this winter came to Manton, St. Ignace and Kalkaska, which all have at least 10 wins.
Hartford (12-2) – The Indians trail only Centreville (14-1) in the Southwest 10 Conference, and both have at least four more wins than the rest of the league. While Centreville won their first meeting Jan. 12 by 41, Hartford deserves this recognition; it’s already surpassed last season’s 11-11 finish.
Bellevue (12-2) – The Broncos, last season’s Southern Central Athletic Association West champion, gave themselves a chance to catch newcomer Athens for at least a shared title this winter by handing the Indians their first defeat, 40-39 on Thursday. Bellevue had fallen to Athens by two points on Dec. 12 and also has lost to Pittsford (see note on 70-game winning streak above).
Gaylord St. Mary (14-1) – The Snowbirds have won every game since falling to Clare in their season opener, and only Bellaire on Jan. 17 has come within single digits of catching them. That 41-39 win put Gaylord St. Mary in first place in the Ski Valley Conference, but the rivals meet again Tuesday.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – Bellaire (12-2) at Gaylord St. Mary (14-1) – The first meeting, and first place in the Ski Valley Conference, went to St. Mary 41-39. Both are likely Class D contenders as well.
Tuesday – Flushing (13-2) at Goodrich (10-3) – The reigning Class A champion and a regular Class B contender are leading their respective leagues this winter.
Tuesday – Freeland (13-2) at Alma (11-3) – The Falcons won the first meeting 47-38 and continue to hold a one-game lead on the Panthers in the Tri-Valley Conference Central along with a 37-game league winning streak.
Tuesday – Saginaw Heritage (13-0) at Midland (9-4) – Heritage won big the first time around, but this meeting counts in the league standings – and a Midland win would make the SVL at least a four-team race.
Wednesday – Detroit Renaissance (10-6) vs. Detroit Communication Media Arts (12-1) at Detroit East English – This PSL tournament second-round game pits a league champion in CMA and a runner-up in Renaissance.
PHOTO: Muskegon Oakridge's Sophia Wiard works to get past a Shelby defender during Thursday's win. (Photo by Sherry Wahr.)
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.