Haslett Again Meets Great Expectations

March 20, 2015

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor 

EAST LANSING – Expectations for Haslett’s girls basketball team were set during a run to the Class A Regional Finals a year ago keyed by a lineup that would remain mostly intact for this winter.

Those expectations were fulfilled again Friday at the Breslin Center as the Vikings took a step deeper into the MHSAA Tournament than any team in their program’s history. 

Haslett advanced to its first MHSAA Final with a 63-52 win over Benton Harbor, never trailing during the second half while building a lead as large as 14 points.

The Vikings had made the Semifinals only one other season, in 1995. And this return seemed unlikely when one of the core four of seniors was injured midway through the winter. 

“To us, it just means the world, to play for a state championship,” said forward Makenna Ott, who missed nine games with a leg injury. “It’s us. It could’ve been another team here. We’ve worked so hard for this." 

Haslett (22-5) will face Detroit Country Day in the Class B Final at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Ott, the team’s leading scorer at 13.2 points per game, missed four of Haslett’s five losses this winter, and wasn’t at full strength when the Vikings fell to Country Day 57-43 on Feb. 26. 

But if this tournament run has shown how strong the team is at full strength, Friday’s win showed how potent the rest of Haslett’s lineup is as well.

Ott led with 18 points. But senior forward Karson Tripp added 14 and seven rebounds, senior guard Adrianna Stolicker had 13 points and junior guard Megan Mowid had 11 points, seven rebounds and four steals. Senior point guard Kenzie DeCook added seven points and a team-high four assists, and as a group they played 154 of a possible 160 minutes. 

And yet, they sensed they might be tiring Benton Harbor out with a pace the seemed especially frenetic for a team subbing so rarely.

“Their team had so much firepower, I would’ve liked to see us get a bigger lead earlier so we could relax more and not be quite so worried about every possession,” Haslett coach Bob Currier said. “(But) I kept looking behind me at my assistant coach, and I said I think they’re more tired than we are. We kept pushing the ball, and that separated us.” 

The teams played point for point until Stolicker’s 3-pointer with 2:36 left in the first half ignited a 9-0 run to finish the second quarter. Tripp hit a 3-pointer midway through the third quarter to start a 12-2 run that put Haslett up 14 points with eight minutes to play.

Miss Basketball finalist and Michigan State recruit Kalabrya Gondrezick scored 20 points and junior sister Kysre had 17. But Benton Harbor (20-6) shot only 35 percent from the floor – compared to 47 percent for Haslett – and never cut the lead below nine points. 

“I don’t know if the atmosphere was euphoric for some. Kysre and Kalabrya are used to this atmosphere as such, but it was the first trip to the final four for this group of young ladies,” said Benton Harbor coach Lisa Harvey-Gondrezick, who also is the mother of Kysre and Kalabrya. “We were a little stifled offensively, and I don’t think we executed our gameplan well enough.”

Haslett entered the postseason ranked No. 8 in Class B and has eliminated three top-five teams over the last three weeks.

The thought that the Vikings had the potential to finish number one may have seemed daunting at times this winter – but giving themselves an opportunity always was part of the plan. 

“We’ve wanted this from the beginning,” Stolicker said. “We knew we were going to do whatever it took to get to this point. It’s always been a goal." 

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Haslett huddles after advancing to its first MHSAA Final. (Middle) Benton Harbor’s Kysre Gondrezick works to get around Haslett’s Megan Mowid.

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.