Countdown to Calvin: Girls Report Week 2

December 12, 2017

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

The first weeks of girls basketball season give us an opportunity to watch potential new powers emerge – and we’ve already got some candidates.

This week’s “Countdown to Calvin” – powered by MI Student Aid – is filled with teams making strong first impressions, starting with the first two victors mentioned in the “Week in Review” below that earned victories over teams that made it to the final weekend of last season.

These reports are based on results and schedules posted for each school at – to offer corrections, email me at [email protected]

Week in Review

The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results: 

1. Howell 51, Ypsilanti Arbor Prep 41 – The Highlanders moved to 4-0 and broke a 26-game regular-season winning streak for Arbor Prep, which lost last season in the Class B championship game.

2. Coldwater 42, Marshall 30 – Coldwater broke Marshall’s 42-game perfect run during the first three seasons of the Interstate 8 Athletic Conference, and after losing to the 2017 Class B semifinalist Redhawks by 15 and 24 last season.

3. East Lansing 52, DeWitt 51 – East Lansing handed DeWitt a one-point loss for the second straight meeting after doing the same in last season’s Class A District Final; DeWitt won the first meeting last season by a point.

4. Negaunee 74, Houghton 44 – The Miners moved to 4-0 with a big win over a Houghton team that won last year’s meeting by a basket and finished 21-2.

5. Flint Hamady 57, Dearborn Henry Ford Academy 38 – The Hawks are off to their usual strong start, but this one was especially impressive with Henry Ford Academy coming off 19 wins last season.

Watch List

With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each class making sparks: 


Battle Creek Harper Creek (3-0) – Harper Creek’s noticeable first week was followed by an important win Friday, 56-53 over Jackson Northwest. The Beavers finished 12-10 overall and fifth in the Interstate 8 Athletic Conference last season, splitting two games with Northwest – which finished runner-up in the league. Harper Creek also opened this season with a win over St. Joseph, 17-5 last winter.

Bay City Western (3-0) – The Warriors improved from 12 to 15 wins over the last two seasons, and made the jump last winter despite an 0-2 start. Two of last December’s defeats were by 10 to Freeland and 19 to Midland; last week Western beat Freeland by two and Midland by seven.


Corunna (2-1) – The Cavaliers did lose to Laingsburg by five to open last week, after also losing to the Wolfpack at the start of 2016-17. But Corunna finished with a 62-57 win over Flint Beecher on Friday and also has a 17-point win so far against Birch Run, last winter’s Tri-Valley Conference East runner-up.

Gladwin (3-0) – The Flying G’s shared last season’s Jack Pine Conference title and already are off to a better start, avenging last winter’s four-point loss to Midland Bullock Creek with a 10-point win last week. Gladwin also has close victories over Farwell and Houghton Lake, the former Farwell’s only loss against three wins.


Marlette (3-0) – The Red Raiders play in a tough Greater Thumb Conference East that includes usual powers Sandusky and Harbor Beach, but early returns make it look like they could factor into the mix. Marlette also started 3-0 last year on the way to finishing 10-10, but last week’s 38-33 win over Millington should be a good sign of things to come. 

Reese (4-0) – We point out the Rockets every season, and with good reason – they went 20-3 last winter. This opening run has included three wins by double digits including by 14 over Millington and 18 over Frankenmuth, and a five-point win last week against Class A Saginaw Arthur Hill.


Kingston (3-0) – Kingston has held two of its first three opponents to single-digit scoring as it looks to repeat as North Central Thumb League champion. The Cardinals went 18-3 last season and get their first chance at avenging those defeats next week against Sandusky.

Ontonagon (2-0) – The Gladiators are hoping to build off last season’s 9-12 finish after winning 16 games the winter before that. They’re off to the right start; last week’s 45-40 win over Baraga avenged an eight-point loss a year ago.

Can't-Miss Contests

Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:  

Wednesday – Portland St. Patrick (3-0) at Laingsburg (4-0) – The Shamrocks also get undefeated Pewamo-Westphalia on Friday, so this will be the first step toward seeing which of these teams will take the lead in the Central Michigan Athletic Conference.

Friday – Farmington Hills Mercy (4-0) at Bloomfield Hills Marian (3-0) – These two as usual find themselves quickly at the top of the Detroit Catholic League Central; Mercy won the league title and Marian was runner-up last season.

Friday – Flint Hamady (4-0) at Goodrich (3-1) – The only loss this season between these annual Genesee Area Conference powers was Goodrich’s to Arbor Prep two weeks ago; Goodrich was first and Hamady second in the GAC Red last season. 

Saturday – Detroit Martin Luther King (0-0) vs. Detroit Country Day (1-1) at Detroit Edison – These two will meet against as part of the Best of Michigan Classic, and most seasons they are in Class A and B, respectively.

Saturday – Ypsilanti Arbor Prep (3-1) vs. Flint Carman-Ainsworth (4-0) at Detroit Edison – These two should find themselves near the top of the first state rankings in Class C and A, respectively, when polls come out next month.

PHOTO: Marlette shut down Millington for a 38-33 victory last week. (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

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.