Countdown to Calvin: Girls Report Week 11
February 19, 2019
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
It’s championship time in Michigan high school girls basketball.
With all of the recent snow-outs pushing rescheduled games into these final two weeks of the regular season, it seems like hardly a day goes by without at least one team celebrating a league title – and there’s plenty more to come, as we highlight below.
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 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. Ann Arbor Pioneer 53, Monroe 44 – Although Pioneer went on to lose its next game, in overtime to reigning Class D champ Adrian Lenawee Christian, this win over Monroe locked up the program’s first league title since 2000.
2. Detroit Edison 57, Bloomfield Hills Marian 51 – Edison dealt Marian its only loss this season as both turned up for anticipated long tournament runs in Divisions 2 and 1, respectively.
3. Detroit Mumford 59, Detroit Martin Luther King 49 – By an impressive margin, Mumford repeated as Detroit Public School League Tournament champion with this title game win.
4. Rockford 59, Grand Haven 49 (2 OT) – The Rams pushed into first in the Ottawa-Kent Conference Red with this victory over Grand Haven and then Friday’s over East Kentwood; those opponents are now tied for second place.
5. East Grand Rapids 71, Grand Rapids South Christian 51 – The Pioneers are a win away from a perfect run through the O-K Gold after finishing second a year ago and clinched the league title outright with this victory over the reigning champ.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
• DeWitt (15-1) – The Panthers actually improved to 16-1 on Monday with a 58-46 win over East Lansing – which entered the night as the only undefeated team left in Division 1. The Panthers and Trojans this winter are in the same league for the first time and tied for first in the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue, both with a league game to play. DeWitt’s only defeat came to the Trojans by four Dec. 14, and the Panthers own a 12-point win over Ann Arbor Pioneer and 13-pointer over Jenison among other standout victories.
• Grand Rapids Northview (13-1) – The Wildcats have clinched a share of the O-K White and can claim the title outright Friday against second-place Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern. It’s a solid improvement on last season’s 12-8 finish, and comes with an impressive 13-game winning streak after opening this winter with a loss to Rockford.
• Freeland (14-2) – To see the Falcons in the mix locally and statewide is nothing new. Freeland has made Class B Quarterfinals the last two seasons and could have another run ready to launch – although first the Falcons have a chance to clinch the Tri-Valley Conference Central championship Friday against Shepherd. Losses to Division 1 state powers Midland Dow and Saginaw Heritage should prove valuable next month.
• Muskegon Oakridge (15-2) – The end to its 82-game league winning streak Jan. 8 against Whitehall can fall further into the rearview mirror if Oakridge can clinch the West Michigan Conference title again Thursday against Shelby. Oakridge avenged that loss to Whitehall in their rematch Feb. 8 and took its only other defeat Dec. 22 against likely Division 3 contender Ypsilanti Arbor Prep.
• Grass Lake (14-1) – After finishing second to Michigan Center a year ago, Grass Lake could be closing in on its second Cascades Conference title in three seasons. The Warriors have won 12 straight since falling to the Cardinals on Dec. 13 – including a 42-39 victory in the rematch Feb. 1 – and without another loss are guaranteed to at least share the championship. A nonleague matchup with Adrian Lenawee Christian on Feb. 26 could also be an indicator of the program’s potential to win a third straight District title.
• Houghton Lake (14-0) – After finishing 8-13 just two seasons ago, Houghton Lake is a win away from clinching a share of the Jack Pine Conference championship and hasn’t had a game closer than 13 points this season. The Bobcats did show improvement last year finishing 15-8 and winning a District title, but could have their sights set on more with Lake City next week a great test heading into the postseason.
• Ann Arbor Rudolf Steiner (15-1) – The Storm is already three wins better than last season’s 12-10 record, with its only defeat to non-MHSAA Ann Arbor Christ the King on Dec. 17. Rudolf Steiner’s conference dissolved before this season, so it didn’t have that chance to contend this winter – but the Storm can look forward to postseason possibilities in two weeks after reaching the District Final a year ago.
• Baraga (14-2) – The Vikings can clinch a share of the Copper Mountain Conference Copper Country title Thursday against Republic-Michigamme, a nice jump after last season’s third place and 10-11 overall finish. Baraga has won six straight since falling to Ontonagon on Jan. 15, with a 22-point victory over L’Anse avenging its only other defeat this winter.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – Hartland (15-2) at Wayne Memorial (15-2) – This Kensington Lakes Activities Association semifinal pits the East outright champion hosting the West co-champ.
Tuesday – Byron Center (14-3) at Hamilton (16-0) – The Hawkeyes can clinch the O-K Green title outright against second-place Byron Center and after winning their first meeting by 21 on Jan. 22.
Thursday – Brown City (14-2) at Sandusky (13-3) – Brown City holds a one-game lead in the Greater Thumb Conference East after beating Sandusky 48-43 in overtime on Jan. 22.
Friday – Detroit Edison (15-1) at Michigan Center (14-1) – This week’s big game featuring Division 2 favorite Edison sees it traveling to take on an anticipated Division 3 contender.
Friday – Grass Lake (15-1) at Hanover-Horton (12-4) – Hanover-Horton is likely out of the Cascades Conference race, but can mix it up at the top by taking down the leader.
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 and Croswell-Lexington are both leading their leagues as we head into the final two weeks of the girls basketball regular season. (Click to see more from Varsity Monthly.)
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 keithdunl[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.