Future Teammates Crow, Kamin to Face Off 1 Last Time

By John Vrancic
Special for MHSAA.com

March 22, 2021

GLADSTONE — During the past four years, Escanaba’s Nicole Kamin and Gladstone’s Megan Crow have been teammates on the basketball court – except for high school games.

The senior standouts have played on the same travel team since eighth grade and will be teammates at Grand Valley State University next season.

They will be on opposing teams one more time tonight when Escanaba visits Gladstone for a Division 2 District opener at 7 p.m.

“I’d be very happy with that,” Crow said of facing off against Kamin, after Gladstone’s recent 57-40 loss to the Eskymos. “This would be our last time playing against each other. I think it’d be kind of fun.”

This will be the third meeting between the teams this season. The Eskymos also won 64-63 at home Feb. 15.

“When we’re shooting free throws, we sometimes throw a little jab in there,” said Kamin. “We have fun, although we get pretty intense when we have to. Once Meg gets the ball inside, there’s no stopping her. I’m not one who should be guarding a post player, but I have to do it. I try to keep the ball from getting to her. This will be the last time we play as opponents, which will be a relief because we won't have to play against each other anymore.”

Crow is aware of the challenges Kamin provides for opposing teams.

Escanaba/Gladstone girls basketball 2"I don’t guard Nicole, but once she gets past the free throw line, you need help right away,” she said. “She’s hard to defend. Her penetration makes it very challenging.”

Both joined the 1,000-point club recently. Kamin scored her 1,000th career point in this season’s first meeting between the teams, and Crow reached a thousand in a 59-36 triumph over Manistique at home March 11.

Kamin usually plays guard, but was the team's center in a 60-47 victory at Bark River-Harris on Friday. She averages 24 points and nine rebounds a game and figures to be more of a forward at Grand Valley.

Crow recorded a triple-double (16 points, 18 rebounds and 12 blocked shots) in the Braves' 43-24 regular season-ending victory at Marquette on Wednesday.

She expects to be a post player for the Lakers.

"That will be very exciting," said Crow. "Nicole makes good passes, and I make good kick-outs. Playing at the post would give me more freedom. I would be able to post up more and drive to the basket."

Kamin, like Crow, knows she has some work to do prior to her collegiate career.

"I'm more of a driver," she said. "I need to work on my shooting a little."

Kamin scored 21 points in Thursday's 71-27 rout of Kingsford, then often distributed the ball and hit 14 at BR-H.

Esky finished its regular season at 10-4 and Gladstone is 8-5 going into the postseason.

Both like to go to the Northern Lights YMCA in Escanaba and play ball with other girls.

"I also like to work out at home and go to the shooting range in my spare time," said Crow.

Kamin played on two Division 2 championship softball teams at Escanaba before last season was cancelled due to COVID-19. She was a back-up pitcher to current University of Wisconsin hurler Gabi Salo, but figures to play first base for the Eskymos this spring.

John Vrancic has covered high school sports in the Upper Peninsula since joining the Escanaba Daily Press staff in 1985. He is known most prominently across the peninsula for his extensive coverage of cross country and track & field that frequently appears in newspapers from the Wisconsin border to Lake Huron. He received the James Trethewey Award for Distinguished Service in 2015 from the Upper Peninsula Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association.

PHOTOS: (Top) Gladstone’s Megan Crow and Escanaba’s Nicole Kamin both have been standouts in the Great Northern Conference and will be teammates at the collegiate level. (Middle) Kamin and Crow face off last season. (Photos courtesy of the Escanaba Daily Press.)

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.