Edison Follows Miss Basketball Whitehorn Back to Championship Day

By Perry A. Farrell
Special for MHSAA.com

March 18, 2022

EAST LANSING – Detroit Edison and Miss Basketball Award winner Ruby Whitehorn will try for the program’s first Division 2 title since 2019 after moving past Ludington on Friday 63-30 in a Semifinal at the Breslin Center.

The Pioneers (18-3) will face Grand Rapids West Catholic at 6:15 p.m. Saturday.

Edison was felled by the COVID-19 last season, so getting a chance to play at the Breslin meant a little more.

“I was a little nervous because I knew we hadn’t been here in a few years,’’ said coach Monique Brown. “I have a whole new team since the last time we were here. Devin (Hagemann), she has only played 10 games in the last two seasons. To be on the floor where her sister (DeeDee) plays at, I know she was a little nervous. We jumped out a little bit early, but we got a little antsy. We were able to settle down, and overplaying them we were able to pull away from them.’’

Whitehorn came out of the game with six minutes left having scored 18 points, pulled down 12 rebounds and handed out seven assists.

“The past few games I’ve learned to keep my attitude in check and trust my teammates,’’ said Whitehorn. “They have my back. It took me a little while not to get on myself when I wasn’t scoring. I realized that when I get an assist, I feel like I’m scoring. I love to rebound. That’s my big thing. It’s the most aggressive thing for me to do on the court. It’s fun to me. When you get a rebound, you look tough.

“Growing up, it was always a dream to play on Michigan State’s court. I thought since I committed somewhere else (Clemson), I thought I wouldn’t get that chance, but God has a way of making things work out.’’

Shouts of “overrated” by the Ludington student cheering section toward Whitehorn were unfounded.

Edison/Ludington basketballLudington (20-6) shot 53.8 percent from the field during the first half. But 17 turnovers were the reason they trailed by 13 at halftime despite Whitehorn scoring just four points over the first 16 minutes.

Edison’s quickness was disruptive, forcing the Orioles into bad decisions and 30 turnovers total for the game.

“We work on more defensive drills than anything,” said Brown. “We had a stretch where we’d play a game and not play for six or seven days or play a game and not play for 14 days. We’ve had a chance to get into a rhythm.’’

Whitehorn scored four points early in the third quarter, and Edison extended its lead to 39-21.

Edison eventually doubled the score (43-21) on a basket by Myan Cooksey.

“It wasn’t like I thought it would be,’’ Ludington’s Keelyn Laird said about going up against Whitehorn. “She can jump out of the gym. She’s a really, really good player.’’

Edison scored the first 10 points of the game, forcing Ludington coach Warren Stowe to call a timeout with 4:37 left in the first quarter.

“Tough game for us,’’ said Stowe. “We knew we were going to see an immense amount of pressure all night. We did. It’s like a leaky faucet. It’s what we try to do to teams on the west side of the state, put that type of pressure on them. It wears on you.’’

Oliva Lynn finally scored for the Orioles, after Hagemann had drained a triple, to make it 13-2.

Ludington shook off the jitters and got to within six, at 15-9 with 1:41 to go in the opening period, going inside against the Edison defense.

Ludington’s zone started to affect the Edison offense, and when RyAnn Rohrer scored four straight points the Orioles were within 17-14 with Whitehorn on the bench with two fouls a minute into in the second quarter. The 6-foot-3 Laird made her presence felt inside, scoring a rebound basket a minute later to make it a one-point game, 17-16.

Edison promptly went on a 13-1 spurt to take a 30-17 advantage, and led 32-19 at halftime.

Rohrer scored 11 points during the first half and led the Orioles with 15. Madisen Wardell added 10 points and four steals for the Pioneers. 

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS (Top) Detroit Edison’s Ruby Whitehorn makes a move toward the hoop as Ludington's RyAnn Rohrer (5) defends Friday. (Middle) Madisen Wardell (15) gets up a shot during her team’s Division 2 Semifinal win. (Click for more from Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)

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.