Countdown to Calvin: Girls Report Week 3
December 18, 2017
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
It’s easy at this time of year, at least from a basketball point of view, to look past these next few weeks toward January, the start of league play and the most intense part of every regular season.
But not so fast. Doing so would mean missing out on more great early matchups that took place last week and some big-time contests coming up over the next two, some of which are mentioned below.
For many teams, there is little break over the end of December – and we’ll catch up again with the most notable news and notes from the last half of this month during the first week of January. These reports are based on results and schedules posted for each school at MHSAA.com – to offer corrections, email me at [email protected]. Countdown to Calvin is powered by MI Student Aid.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Detroit Country Day 70, Detroit Martin Luther King 58 – The reigning Class B champion Yellowjackets have won in back-to-back seasons over the Class A power Crusaders.
2. Bloomfield Hills Marian 53, Farmington Hills Mercy 46 – Round one of this annual rivalry series went to Marian, which finished second to Mercy last season in the Detroit Catholic League Central and lost to the Marlins three times by a combined 13 points.
3. Flint Carman-Ainsworth 63, Ypsilanti Arbor Prep 59 – The Cavaliers moved to 5-0 by downing the reigning Class B runner-up Gators, who are in Class C this winter.
4. Williamston 62, Wayne Memorial 52 – The undefeated Hornets continue to look like one of Class B’s best after handing Class A Wayne its first defeat, and after the Zebras previously downed Country Day.
5. River Rouge 52, Southfield Arts & Technology 49 – The Panthers could be making a jump this season, and last week bounced back from a loss to Ann Arbor Huron to hand 2017 Class A semifinalist Southfield A&T this defeat.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each class making sparks:
Grand Blanc (4-2) – The Bobcats added a 42-36 win over Hartland and 41-40 victory over Flint Powers last week to a strong start after they went 9-12 last winter. Hartland last season won the Kensington Lakes Activities Association West, while Grand Blanc finished fifth; both now are in the KLAA Gold.
Romeo (4-1) – The Bulldogs actually started 7-0 in 2016-17 before a loss to Port Huron Northern (17-4 last winter) ended the streak and began a 7-9 finish. Romeo has taken a loss early this time, but beat Port Huron Northern last week after falling to the Huskies by 17 and 16 a season ago.
Battle Creek Pennfield (4-0) – As noted last week, Coldwater ended Marshall’s Interstate 8 Athletic Conference winning streak at 42. Pennfield could be one of the teams on the rise in the league after defeating the Redhawks 49-40 on Friday. The Panthers tied for third in the I8AC last season.
Fowlerville (5-1) – After an opening loss to Okemos, Fowlerville has come on strong as it looks to take another step. The Gladiators have improved from four, to 13, to 15 wins the last three seasons and were one of three teams that tied for second in the Capital Area Activities Conference White last winter.
Byron (5-0) – The Eagles have won all of their games by nine or more points as they also are looking to take another step after going 16-5 last season. They beat Class B Perry by 10 last week and get Class B Chesaning this week before the break.
Schoolcraft (6-0) – Handing Bronson its first loss last week 62-61 was the initial attention getter on Schoolcraft’s schedule, but more are the come. The Eagles made the Quarterfinals last season but finished second in their league to Galesburg-Augusta – the second opponent on the schedule when things get rolling again in January.
Adrian Lenawee Christian (4-0) – The Cougars’ run so far has included a 13-point win over a reigning league co-champ in Morrice and victories over Class B Ida and most recently Class B Tecumseh. Lenawee Christian finished 15-8 last season.
Athens (6-0) – Athens had been in the mix annually as the smallest school in the otherwise Class C Big 8 Conference, and this year the Indians moved to a Southern Central Athletic Association West made up of five Class D schools. They have the upper hand early after last week’s 50-48 win over reigning league champion Bellevue.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – East Kentwood (6-0) at East Grand Rapids (4-0) – The reigning Class A runner-up Falcons have looked unstoppable, but should get their toughest challenge yet from an EGR team that went 17-4 last season.
Wednesday – Ishpeming (5-0) at Negaunee (4-0) – These two look like the best out of the gate in the Mid-Peninsula Conference and among the best in Class C in the Upper Peninsula.
Wednesday – Saginaw Heritage (4-0) at Freeland (4-1) – The only loss between the two this season was Freeland’s two-pointer to Bay City Western, and all of Heritage’s wins have been by at least 20 points.
Friday – Detroit County Day (2-1) at Midland Dow (3-0) – The Chargers have to contend with rival Midland first on Tuesday but then can see how they measure up against the reigning Class B champ.
Dec. 29 – Ann Arbor Huron (5-1) vs. Grand Haven (5-0) at Detroit Northwestern – This Motor City Roundball Classic game pits two teams that could be ranked in Class A in January.
PHOTO: A Byron player goes hard to the basket during a win over Durand. (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 [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.