Many Gators Chip In As Arbor Prep Earns Championship Game Return
By Dean Holzwarth
Special for MHSAA.com
March 17, 2022
EAST LANSING – Mya Petticord finished as the leading scorer for top-ranked Ypsilanti Arbor Prep in Thursday's Division 3 Semifinal at the Breslin Center.
But key contributions from her teammates also helped pave the way in a 57-44 victory over Maple City Glen Lake.
Arbor Prep (24-2) handed the Lakers (25-1) their lone loss of the season, and will play Kent City in Saturday’s Division 2 Final at 4 p.m.
“One of the TV reporters asked me before the game what one player did I need to score for us to win the game, and I didn’t have an answer,” Gators coach Scott Stine said. “Mya can score 12 and we can still win this game, because every night somebody steps up. We’re really tough to guard because any of the girls in the rotation can score.”
Petticord, a Miss Basketball Award finalist who will play next season at Texas A&M, scored a game-high 20 points, only three below her average, despite shooting an uncharacteristic 5-of-18 from the field – entering this week she was connecting on 52 percent of her shots.
Senior Karianne Woods, a Bethune-Cookman commit, added 10 points and six assists.
“I didn’t feel like I had to score for us to win, not at all,” Petticord said. “I feel like all my teammates have scoring abilities.”
Stephanie and Stacy Utomi combined for 14 points and 17 rebounds, while sophomore Taylor Wallace pitched in with eight points and two steals.
“Stacy from the tip rebounded for us and brought energy,” said Stine, whose team was making its first appearance in the Semifinals since 2019. “Her and her sister are tough, and they live in the gym.”
The Gators’ defense forced 11 first-half turnovers as they led 26-21 at the half before pulling away in the third quarter with an inspired 12-0 run sparked by defense and 3-point shooting.
Wallace drained a pair of 3-pointers from the corner to make it 34-24. Ensuing layups by Jazmin Chupp and Woods pushed the lead to 38-24.
“We were a little bit nervous and rattled to begin the game,” Stine said. “We were fumbling the ball and missing defensive assignments, and our shooting was uncharacteristically terrible in the first half. But we weathered through it and played a little more like Arbor Prep is supposed to play.”
Glen Lake cut the deficit to 51-41 with less than three minutes remaining, but Petticord went 6-for-6 from the free throw line down the stretch to seal it.
This was Glen Lake’s third trip to the Semifinals over the last six years, but first since 2018.
Senior all-state guard Grace Bradford led the Lakers with 17 points and 13 rebounds. Junior Ruby Hogan added 10 points.
“We knew it was going to be physical coming out, and the biggest thing was if we could get past that trap then we would be fine, but we had a hiccup there not being able to get through and take care of the ball,” Glen Lake coach Jason Bradford said. “We struggled setting up our offense due to their pressure.”
The loss was only the second for Glen Lake over the last two seasons.
“Every one of these girls have been together since the third grade, and that’s a special thing,” Bradford said. “They step on the floor and they know what the meaning of winning is, and this team leaned on each other.”
PHOTOS (Top) Arbor Prep's Mya Petticord (1) makes a move toward the basket with Glen Lake's Jessica Robbins defending. (Middle) The Lakers' Maddie Bradford (10) gets up a shot over Petticord's outstretched arm. (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.
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.