GP South Set for Saturday Rematch
March 15, 2013
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
EAST LANSING – The last time Grosse Pointe South visited the Breslin Center, it came within 12 seconds of winning its first MHSAA girls basketball championship.
And there’s no hiding that the Blue Devils players and coaches have been planning for this weekend since just about the time they left East Lansing after falling by a point to Grand Haven in last season's Class A Final.
Grosse Pointe South earned a rematch with the Buccaneers by downing Dexter 48-29 in Friday’s second Semifinal. They’ll meet in the championship game at noon Saturday.
“Definitely, we have some really painful memories,” Devils senior Claire DeBoer said. “Just getting that taste last year, (having it go) down to 10 seconds left, we want it even more this year.”
It’s appeared that way from the start. After falling to Chicago Whitney Young in its first game this winter, South has won 25 straight and entered the tournament ranked No. 2 behind Detroit Martin Luther King – which lost in a Quarterfinal.
Like the Devils last season, Dexter (23-4) was playing Friday for its first championship game berth. But with sophomore guard Cierra Rice leading the South attack, the Dreadnaughts never got much footing while falling behind 27-10 by halftime.
“We haven’t faced a team that has that many quality players all season long, and it took us out of some things that we tried to do,” Dexter coach Mike Bavineau said. “We wanted to attack as much as we could against their pressure. Sometimes when a team speeds you up and makes you play a little bit faster than you’re used to, you tend to revert back to things you were able to do against a team not of this caliber. I think that made it difficult for us.”
DeBoer and Rice were South’s leading scorers in last season’s Final, and Rice scored 21 points Friday. The third player Bavineau referred to was junior guard Bre’nae Andrews, who followed with 16 points.
Andrews also has had her sights set on getting back to Breslin – as a member of Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett last year, she was unable to play in the Class C Semifinal or Final after suffering an injury earlier in that tournament run.
Senior forward Emma Kill led the Dreadnaughts with 12 points and five rebounds. This season’s run included Dexter’s first Regional title since 1998 and first District championship since 2004.
Rice did most of her damage Thursday driving the lane and made 9 of her 13 shots. She admitted she might have a tougher time against Grand Haven’s 6-foot-5 Abby Cole – but is prepared to adjust.
“My strongest ability is to go to the basket. I probably won’t do it the same way (Saturday); I’ll probably try to shoot a lot more jumpers (because) it’s harder to go up against Cole,” Rice said. “I’ve got to change up my game a little bit, but that’s not a problem for me. I try to work on that.”
PHOTOS: (Top) Grosse Pointe South defenders trap the ball during Friday's Class A Semifinal. (Middle) South's Aliezza Brown had five points and three rebounds in 23 minutes off the bench. (Photos by Hockey Weekly Action Photo.)
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.
But 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 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 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.