Countdown to Calvin: Girls Report Week 6
January 14, 2019
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
As the midpoint of this Michigan high school girls basketball season approaches, most teams are focusing on league competition – and there are plenty of stories to tell.
Start with the top game in our “Week in Review” below – which saw the end of an 82-game conference winning streak. Three of our five games to watch over the coming week also have league title significance.
Of course, there are some epic nonconference matchups still on the way – and we highlight a few of those as well.
Expect to see District brackets added to the MHSAA Website this week and first-round games added to team schedules. 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. Whitehall 67, Muskegon Oakridge 56 (3 OT) – Whitehall handed Oakridge its first West Michigan Conference loss since 2013, a stretch of 82 league games, to move into a first-place tie with the Eagles.
2. Saginaw Heritage 48, Flint Carman-Ainsworth 41 – Saginaw Valley League Red leader Heritage remained undefeated by downing Blue leader Carman-Ainsworth in the former’s second-closest game this winter.
3. Detroit Martin Luther King 56, Detroit Cass Tech 53 – The Crusaders held on to the top spot alone in the Detroit Public School League Midtown division by handing the Technicians their first league loss.
4. Detroit Edison 64, Muskegon 42 – The Pioneers won a star-studded matchup that featured multiple Miss Basketball Award hopefuls.
5. Kalamazoo Christian 48, Comstock 38 – The Comets bounced back from two straight losses to hand Comstock the only defeat of an impressive winter so far.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
• Saline (7-0) – The Hornets appear on their way to soon surpassing last season’s 11-11 finish. Their first game closer than 19 points came Friday in the Southeastern Conference Red opener, when Saline won a battle of unbeaten edging Temperance Bedford 57-56.
• Southfield Arts & Technology (8-1) – The Warriors are playing for a third straight Oakland Activities Association Red title, but that could be just the start. A&T beat reigning Class B champion Detroit Country Day 65-54 last week and owns a 13-point win over Flint Carman-Ainsworth, noted above. The defeat was by two points to reigning Class A champion Saginaw Heritage in the season’s second game.
• Armada (6-1) – Reigning champion Armada has won 19 straight Blue Water Area Conference games and is tied for first heading into Tuesday’s matchup with co-leader Croswell-Lexington (see below). The loss came to Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse in mid-December, but the Tigers haven’t had another game closer than 22 points since their season opener.
• Croswell-Lexington (6-1) – Croswell-Lexington tied for second in the BWAC a year ago and has five wins by double digits this winter including a 19-pointer over third-place Imlay City on Friday. The only defeat came by nine to Port Huron Northern, an annual power from one of the state’s best leagues.
• Gobles (7-0) – Two straight first-game MHSAA Tournament exits has taken Gobles out of the state spotlight some, but the Tigers are roaring back. They avenged last season’s District loss to Kalamazoo Hackett last week, and could earn another boost against also-unbeaten Martin on Friday in a matchup for first place in the Southwestern Athletic Conference Lakeshore.
• Iron River West Iron County (6-2) – The Wykons may have started slowly, relatively speaking, at 1-2 this winter including a loss to still-undefeated Ishpeming Westwood. But they handed Negaunee its first defeat last week and followed that with a one-point win over Menominee. Both were nonleague victories, but West Iron sits first in the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference Copper as well.
• Adrian Lenawee Christian (9-1) – The Cougars began their reign as last season’s Class D champion with an opening-night 59-54 defeat to Michigan Center, a strong Division 3 contender this winter. But that competition no doubt prepared Lenawee Christian as it has since beaten Country Day by five, one-loss Carleton Airport by six and one-loss Bay City John Glenn by 15 – and last week avenged last season’s only defeat by beating Monroe by 13.
• Mackinaw City (6-1) – The Comets are looking to build on last season’s 15 wins, a six-win improvement from 2016-17, and appear on the way with all double-digit victories this winter to go with a lone loss to Brimley. Mackinaw City is tied for first in the Northern Lakes Conference with undefeated Wolverine – Friday’s opponent – and last week doubled up reigning league champion Harbor Springs Harbor Light Christian 66-32. The Comets lost three times last season to the Swordsmen, including in a Regional Semifinal.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – Rockford (8-2) at Grand Haven (8-0) – These are two of three teams unbeaten early in Ottawa-Kent Conference Red play, and Rockford plays the third, East Kentwood, on Friday.
Tuesday – Grosse Pointe North (7-1) at Port Huron Northern (8-2) – Both are unbeaten in the Macomb Area Conference Red and carry statewide intrigue as well.
Friday – Schoolcraft (8-0) at Centreville (7-0) – These two Division 3 powers both have won all of their games by double digits this winter.
Friday – Farmington Hills Mercy (6-1) at Bloomfield Hills Marian (7-0) – This continues to be one of the best hoops rivalries in the state, and they’re tied early atop the Detroit Catholic League Central standings after sharing the title last season.
Saturday – Detroit Edison (9-1) vs. Detroit Mumford (9-1) at Warren Fitzgerald – The PSL West-Town leading Mustangs are a two-point loss to St. Ignace from unbeaten, and Edison hasn’t lost to an in-state opponent in a calendar year.
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: Sandusky held on to its share of the lead in the Greater Thumb Conference East on Thursday with a 36-29 win over Harbor Beach. (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.