Countdown to Calvin: Girls Report Week 12
February 26, 2019
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
The beginning of the MHSAA Girls Basketball Tournament is still a week away.
But taking a glance at some of the games played last week and other big-time matchups coming up over the next three days, we’ve clearly entered playoff mode.
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. DeWitt 58, East Lansing 46 – The Panthers started last week with this Monday showdown, handing the last unbeaten team in Division 1 East Lansing its only loss and setting the teams up to share the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue title (although DeWitt then lost the next day for just the second time, to nonleague St. Johns.)
2. Maple City Glen Lake 38, Kingsley 36 – The Lakers avenged an eight-point loss Jan. 17 to move into a first place tie with the Stags in the Northwest Conference with one game left for both.
3. Midland Dow 48, Flint Carman-Ainsworth 41 – Dow, champion of the Saginaw Valley Red, reaffirmed its position as a Division 1 favorite by downing Blue title winner Carman-Ainsworth in a league crossover.
4. Ypsilanti Arbor Prep 48, Harper Woods Chandler Park 46 – Division 2 Chandler Park has fared well against many of the state’s best, making this a major victory for Division 3 contender Arbor Prep. These teams will meet again Thursday.
5. Sandusky 36, Brown City 34 – The Redskins avenged a five-point overtime loss to Brown City from Jan. 22 to create a three-team shared title in the Greater Thumb Conference East with these two and Harbor Beach.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
• East Grand Rapids (17-2) – The Pioneers have won 14 straight and ran away with the Ottawa-Kent Conference Gold title, finishing four wins better than the rest of the league. The title was the team’s first since 2011-12, and East Grand Rapids will try to build on it with a repeat District championship next week. Those two defeats both came in December to Coldwater, a league champion, and 14-win Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern.
• Saginaw Heritage (16-2) – The reigning Class A champion has navigated one of the toughest schedules in the state, with the two losses by a combined eight points to rival Midland Dow and Division 2 favorite Detroit Edison – and the latter with Miss Basketball candidate Moira Joiner injured. The Hawks didn’t win their league thanks to the Dow loss, but shouldn’t be sneaking up on anyone with wins this winter against Southfield Arts & Technology, Hartland, Flint Carman-Ainsworth, Harper Woods Chandler Park and Detroit Country Day.
• Detroit University Prep (16-1) – The Panthers swept the Michigan Metro Athletic Conference Black and didn’t suffer their first defeat until last week, falling to Division 1 Bloomfield Hills. There have been a few forfeit wins, but all of University Prep’s victories on the court have been by double digits – a substantial improvement from last season’s 9-10 finish.
• Otsego (16-2) – The Bulldogs have locked up their fourth straight league title, finishing a perfect run through the Wolverine Conference North on Friday to set up Thursday’s league crossover against unbeaten South champion Edwardsburg. Otsego fell to Marshall and then the Eddies back-to-back in their last game of December and first of January, respectively, but haven’t been defeated since with especially impressive wins over Comstock, Three Rivers and Plainwell twice.
• Kent City (16-2) – The Eagles are riding an 11-game winning streak and finished a perfect run through the Central State Activities Association Silver. They’ve won 35 straight league games and five consecutive league championships. Expectations for next month should be high for a few more reasons as well – among them, experience from last year’s Quarterfinal run and the fact the two losses this winter both came in December and by a combined six points to eventual league champs Detroit Martin Luther King and Comstock.
• Pewamo-Westphalia (16-1) – The Pirates have clinched a share of the Central Michigan Athletic Conference title and should complete a second straight perfect run through the league this week. All of that no doubt has been prep with an eye on returning to Calvin after finishing Class C runners-up in 2017 and making the Semifinals a year ago. The lone loss this winter came to Edison, and wins over Dow (by 20), Country Day (by 28) and another league champion New Lothrop (by 30) stack up well with the work of any team in this division.
• Mendon (14-2) – While it’s unlikely Mendon will catch unbeaten Centreville this week for a share of the Southwest 10 Conference title, the Hornets can boast they gave the Division 3 contender its second closest game falling by just four Feb. 8. It’s been an even more impressive winter considering Mendon finished 8-13 only a year ago.
• St. Joseph Michigan Lutheran (14-2) – Despite a one-point loss to second-place Three Oaks River Valley two weeks ago, Michigan Lutheran can lock up the outright Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph Conference White title Thursday, their fifth straight league championship. The Titans also are looking to build on two straight District titles.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – Saginaw Heritage (16-2) at East Lansing (18-1) – What better way to roll into the postseason than with a rematch of last year’s Class A title game.
Tuesday – Wayne Memorial (16-2) at Brighton (18-1) – Wayne reached the Kensington Lakes Activities Association overall championship game by defeating Hartland, which shared the West title with the Bulldogs.
Tuesday – Kent City (16-2) at Stanton Central Montcalm (18-0) – The Hornets are attempting to finish a second straight perfect regular season, and additionally finish this week with 13-win White Cloud.
Thursday – Royal Oak (18-1) at Southfield Arts & Technology (16-1) – The Warriors are first in the Oakland Activities Association Red thanks to a 60-47 win over Royal Oak in their first meeting Feb. 5.
Thursday – Fenton (16-2) at DeWitt (17-2) – The Tigers emerged as champions of a Flint Metro League with three teams 15-5 or better, and DeWitt will provide another sizable test heading into the postseason.
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: DeWitt's Madison Petersen works to get around an Okemos defender during a victory earlier this season. (Photo by TCP Photography.)
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.