Goodrich Gains Spot in All-Flint Final

March 15, 2013

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

EAST LANSING – On paper, at least, there were a few semi-viable reasons to not forecast Goodrich returning to Saturday’s Class B championship game at the Breslin Center. 

Most of them centered on multiple injured starters, including Penn State recruit Aketra Sevillian, who never got on the floor. And after a perfect 2011-12 season, the Martians lost three games this winter – fantastic for most teams, but just a cut below what Goodrich had accomplished before. 

But senior Taylor Gleason never bought any of it. She knew all along how this month would play out. 

She and her teammates took another giant step in that plan Friday, downing No. 7 Grand Rapids South Christian 57-43 to advance to the title game for the second straight season – and this time set up an all-Flint Final against Powers Catholic. 

“I didn’t once doubt it, even though we had three starters go down,” Gleason said. “I knew we could do this for them, we could do this for our community, We could do this, no doubt.”

“I wasn’t as sure as Taylor,” Goodrich coach Jason Gray added, Gleason and sophomore guard Tania Davis at his sides. “But these two really make it easy. They make so much happen for us. They make it so easy for their teammates. They stepped up to completely another level this year.”

The No. 3 Martians will face Powers at 6 p.m. in the day’s final championship game. The two met in District play a year ago, but found themselves on opposite sides of the bracket when lines were drawn for this season. 

Goodrich’s 2012 championship further affirmed the program as one of the state’s current elite. But Powers has won four titles and long ruled Flint basketball. Late Friday night, the social media buzz already was beginning to heat up. 

As they have throughout this season, Gleason and Davis led the way in their Semifinal as the Martians never trailed after the game’s first five minutes. Davis finished with 23 points and five steals, despite a hard fall that resulted in a bruised knee and a few jammed fingers. And Gleason – the Miss Basketball runner-up this week and an Illinois recruit – had 21 points, six rebounds, five assists and six steals. 

The pair has played together since Gleason was in eighth grade and Davis in sixth, and their deep-rooted on-court chemistry has paid off all the more this season – as has been necessary.

“My mindset coming in (to the season) was to feed off Taylor and Kiki (Sevillian’s) energy. When Kiki went down, my whole mindset went from supporting them to stepping up and creating for myself and making my team feed off my energy,” Davis said. “I’ve really stepped into my leadership role. ... Me and Taylor both, we’re just doing an awesome job. And both of our mindsets have changed from just scoring to we have to score for us to win.” 

Senior forward Anna Timmer led South Christian with eight points, nine rebounds and four assists, and the Sailors as a team outrebounded Goodrich 35-26. 

But other numbers being equal or close (both had 19 field goals and South Christian just five more turnovers), Goodrich took a definite edge on free-throw shooting making 15 of 23 compared to South Christian's 2 of 5.

“We knew who their players were. They’re gamers. We tried to stop (Gleason). We tried to make things happen. We just kinda came out slow,” South Christian coach Jim DuBruyn said. “Maybe we had nervous jitters out there. They got a little lead, pulled to 5-4, and before I knew it, it was 8-4 and then it was 11-4. We had too many lulls in there. Defensively, we’ve held most teams to 33 points, but they were just a step quicker at times.”

South Christian finished 24-2, increasing its win total for the third straight season and also winning its Regional for the first time since 2004.

Ties between Saturday’s championship game opponents came to light quickly after Friday’s last game was done. Gleason’s aunt Aimee Pearson was a standout at Powers from 1995-98 and is tied for 14th-most career rebounds, with 1,009, in the MHSAA record book. 

Although they don’t know each other well, Gray and Powers coach Thom Staudacher live in the same neighborhood. And Saturday surely will feel like a neighborhood clash between friendly rivals from one of the state’s traditional basketball power bases. 

“We’re the two elite programs in our county, and we look to them as … they’ve won a few more state titles than we have,” Gray said. “They’re still the big dogs in the long run."

“We have a nice healthy rivalry. We’ve got rabid fans on both sides. This has the opportunity to be a real special environment (Saturday) night.” 

Click for a full box score. 

PHOTOS: (Top) Goodrich's Tania Davis prepares to shoot a free throw during Friday's Semifinal win over Grand Rapids South Christian. (Middle) Goodrich's Katrina Ellis works against South Christian's Kayla Diemer (right) for rebounding position. (Photos by Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)

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.