D2 Preview: Historic Opportunities Ahead

March 21, 2019

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

From the opening tip this season, Detroit Edison has been considered arguably the top high school girls basketball team in Michigan – and potentially on its way to being remembered as one of the best in this state all-time.

But this weekend’s three other semifinalists will do everything in their power to end the Pioneers’ two-season championship run – in hopes of carving out their place in history instead.

Haslett has beaten three ranked opponents since the start of the playoffs. Freeland annually is considered one of the best in formerly Class B, now Division 2. And unbeaten Hamilton has put together one of the state’s most impressive two-year runs on the way to the Semifinals for the first time.

Division 2 Semifinals  Friday
Freeland (23-2) vs. Hamilton (25-0), 5:30 p.m. 
Haslett (19-6) vs. Detroit Edison (25-1), 7:30 p.m.

Division 2 Final – Saturday, 6:15 p.m.

Tickets cost $10 per pair of Semifinals and $10 per two-game Finals session (Divisions 3 and 2). All Semifinals will be streamed live on MHSAA.tv and viewable on a pay-per-view basis. All four Finals will be broadcast live on Fox Sports Detroit and streamed live on FoxSportsDetroit.com and the FOX Sports app. Free radio broadcasts of all weekend games will be available on MHSAANetwork.com.

Below is a glance at all four semifinalists. Click on the name of the school to see that team’s full schedule and results from this season. (Statistics are through teams' Regional Finals.)

25-1, No. 1
League finish: Does not play in a league.
Coach: Monique Brown, eighth season (125-37)
Championship history: Class C champion 2018 & 2017.
Best wins: 79-49 over No. 9 Harper Woods Chandler Park in District Semifinal, 64-51 and 74-62 over Division 1 No. 6 Wayne Memorial, 57-51 over Division 1 No. 2 Bloomfield Hills Marian, 41-37 over Division 1 No. 3 Saginaw Heritage, 64-52 over Division 1 No. 10 Muskegon, 54-39 over Division 3 No. 1 Pewamo-Westphalia.
Players to watch: Rickea Jackson, 6-3 sr. G (22.1 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 1.1 bpg); Gabrielle Elliott, 5-10 jr. G (17.4 ppg, 2.9 apg, 2.8 spg).
Outlook: Edison opted up a division this winter after winning Class C the last two seasons and has beaten most of the best in Division 1 as well – the team’s only loss was to Ohio power Columbus Africentric. Jackson, who will play next at Mississippi State, was named Miss Basketball earlier this week, and Elliott and sophomore Damiya Hagemann (14 ppg, 8.1 apg, 4.1 spg) could very well be candidates for the award the next two seasons, respectively.

23-2, No. 7
League finish: First in Tri-Valley Conference Central
Coach: Tom Zolinski, 12th season (243-49)
Championship history: Class C champion 1998.
Best wins: 59-51 over No. 3 Stanton Central Montcalm in Regional Final, 60-46 over honorable mention Corunna in Regional Semifinal, 58-38 over Goodrich, 61-57 over Bay City Western.
Players to watch: Kadyn Blanchard, 5-10 jr. F (14.6 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 2.8 spg); Alyssa Argyle, 5-9 sr. F (10.9 ppg, 51 3-pointers, 3.4 apg).
Outlook: Freeland is back at the Semifinals for the second time in three seasons and third time this decade after winning its eighth league, 11th District and fifth Regional titles under Zolinski’s leadership. The Falcons have won all of their games during this tournament run by at least eight points. Argyle earned an all-state honorable mention last season, and senior guard Lily Beyer adds 12.3 ppg and had 39 3-pointers entering the week.

25-0, No. 3 (tied)
League finish: First in Ottawa-Kent Conference Green
Coach: Dan VanHekken, 16th season (225-129)
Championship history: Has not played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 60-39 over No. 2 Edwardsburg in Regional Semifinal, 42-40 over Grand Rapids Catholic Central, 48-43 over Comstock Park.
Players to watch: AJ Ediger, 6-2 soph. F (20.2 ppg, 9.7 rpg, 3.3 spg); Bria Schrotenboer, 5-10 sr. G (11.4 ppg, 4.0 apg, 2.9 spg).
Outlook: Hamilton made the Quarterfinals last season for the first time, and this weekend is making its first trip to the Semifinals. The Hawkeyes are up to 71-4 over the last three seasons with three league and three District titles as well during that time. Hamilton hasn’t played a single-digit game since the Comstock Park win Jan. 11. Schrotenboer earned an all-state honorable mention last season and is part of a deep lineup that after Ediger has five players averaging at least four points per game.

19-6, unranked
League finish: Second in Capital Area Activities Conference Red
Coach: Ross Baker, third season (37-20)
Championship history: Class B runner-up 2015.
Best wins: 46-44 over No. 5 Chelsea in Quarterfinal, 51-43 over No. 8 Jackson Northwest in Regional Final, 44-42 over No. 6 Williamston in the District Final.
Players to watch: Ella McKinney, 5-10 sr. G (13.7 ppg. 7.2 rpg); Imania Baker, 6-2 jr. C (7.2 ppg, 5.9 rpg).
Outlook: At full strength for the postseason, the Vikings have soared – the win over Williamston avenged a pair of losses from the league season, and the win over Jackson Northwest avenged a third defeat. Baker had played in just 17 games and sophomore forward Skyla Nosek 15 heading into this week – Baker starts at center and Nosek (7.8 ppg) is the team’s second-leading scorer and comes off the bench. Junior forward Olivia Green (7.7) also augments a balanced lineup, and senior guard Hannah Homan is another top sub and added 6.7 ppg and had 52 3-pointers coming into this week.

PHOTO: Detroit Edison’s Ruby Whitehorn defends against Center Line during their Regional Final last week. (Photo courtesy of C&G Newspapers.)

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.

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.