Countdown to Calvin: Girls Report Week 9

February 4, 2019

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

It took five days for most teams to get started. But last week ended with a flurry including the first losses of the season for three of Michigan’s girls basketball powers.

And there’s plenty more matchups of that magnitude coming up this week, as we detail below.

Countdown to Calvin is powered by MI Student Aid and based on results and schedules posted for each school at 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. Midland Dow 52, Saginaw Heritage 48 – The Chargers took control in the Saginaw Valley League Red by handing reigning Class A champ Heritage its first loss this season, breaking the Hawks’ 20-game winning streak.

2. Grass Lake 42, Michigan Center 39 – The Warriors avenged a 27-point December loss to the Cardinals, handing Michigan Center its first defeat while breaking the team’s 25-game Cascades Conference winning streak.

3. Flint Hamady 50, Corunna 42 – Hamady avenged its lone loss, to Corunna in overtime in December, to hand the Cavaliers their first defeat and pull even with them at the top of the Genesee Area Conference Red.

4. Stanton Central Montcalm 67, Ypsilanti Arbor Prep 64 – Tough matchups with Fremont and Kent City among others remain, but this was a major win as the Hornets go for a second straight unbeaten regular season.  

5. Pewamo-Westphalia 69, Detroit Country Day 41 – Reigning Class B champion Country Day may be 5-6, but that’s relative to the incredible schedule it’s playing this season – and that makes this a huge win for the Pirates.

Watch List

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


• Auburn Hills Avondale (12-1) – After falling to West Bloomfield by seven Jan. 4, Avondale trails the Lakers by a win in the Oakland Activities Association White heading into Thursday’s rematch. The Yellow Jackets are looking to add to last season’s shared OAA Blue title and have 10 wins by double digits.

• Coldwater (12-1) – The Cardinals finished second to Jackson Northwest in the Interstate 8 Athletic Conference last season, thanks to two overtime losses to the Mounties, but lead the league this season thanks to a 10-point win in the first meeting between the annual favorites. Coldwater’s lone loss came by four points to one-loss Ann Arbor Pioneer.


• Cadillac (9-1) – The Vikings are unbeaten five games into the Big North Conference schedule, and will play second-place Traverse City West for the first time Saturday. Cadillac won those first five league games all by at least nine points, and the only loss was to Tri-Valley Conference East leader Essexville Garber – quite a turnaround after Cadillac went 3-18 a year ago.

• Whitehall (10-1) – After finishing 11-11 last season, Whitehall can equal and then surpass that win total this week and leads the West Michigan Conference thanks to a triple overtime win over Muskegon Oakridge on Jan. 8. Those two meet again Friday. Whitehall will have the chance to avenge its lone loss to Montague at the end of this month.


• Hemlock (12-0) – The Huskies are playing for their second straight TVC West title after also reaching the Class C Regional Finals last season. Hemlock has won all but one of its league games – and 10 of 12 games total – by double digits, and can clinch the league title outright without help by the end of next week.

• Oscoda (11-0) – The Owls hold a slim lead in the North Star League Big Dipper with a key matchup with second-place Rogers City coming up Thursday. It’s been a solid jump into contention after the team went 13-9 last winter and won just six games two seasons ago.


• Mendon (10-1) – After finishing 8-13 last season, Mendon has nine wins by double digits already this winter. A December loss to Division 3 and undefeated Centreville is all that’s kept the Hornets from sitting atop the Southwest 10 Conference. Those two meet again Friday.

• St. Ignace (14-0) – The Saints appear on their way to a second straight Straits Area Conference title, with a 10-point win over second-place Sault Ste. Marie in their only meeting so far (and the rematch coming up Thursday). Statewide eyes are watching for more wins like those over Reese and Detroit Mumford, with Kingsley and Goodrich coming up over the next three weeks.

Can't-Miss Contests

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

Tuesday – Southfield Arts & Technology (12-1) at Royal Oak (12-0) – First place in the OAA Red is at stake as these two meet for the first time this season, with the only loss between the two a two-pointer by A&T to Saginaw Heritage. 

Thursday – Muskegon Oakridge (10-2) at Muskegon (8-3) – The Big Reds lead their league, and Oakridge could be doing the same by the end of this week. 

Friday – Manton (10-2) at Lake City (11-1) – Manton won the first meeting by three to gain its current one-game lead in the Highland Conference; both could have aspirations in Division 3 as well.

Saturday – Saginaw Heritage (10-1) at Detroit Edison (12-1) – The Hawks are coming off their lone loss, but most would argue these still are the two best teams in the state regardless of division.

Saturday – Kingsley (11-1) at St. Ignace (14-0) – These two will have opportunities later to show they aren’t just among the best in northern Michigan, but statewide as well in Divisions 2 and 4, respectively.  

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: Williamston defenders wall off a Fowlerville player’s attempt to get to the basket during last week’s win over the Gladiators. (Click to see more from

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.