Martians Claim Class B Over Rival Powers

March 16, 2013

By Bill Khan
Special to Second Half

EAST LANSING — To coach Jason Gray’s left sat Taylor Gleason, still in her Goodrich basketball uniform, but already representing the past for the Martians’ program just moments after her final high school game.

To his right in the postgame press conference sat sophomore Tania Davis, a living, breathing reminder that Goodrich’s future could be every bit as great as the immediate past.

Davis scored a game-high 20 points, as Goodrich became only the fourth school to win back-to-back MHSAA Class B Finals championships with a 51-34 victory over local rival Flint Powers Catholic on Saturday night at the Breslin Center.

Gleason, the Miss Basketball runner-up who has signed with the University of Illinois, capped a spectacular four-year career with 14 points, six steals and five assists. Goodrich never advanced beyond the Quarterfinals until Gleason came along. The Martians lost in double overtime in the Semifinals two years ago before joining traditional heavyweights Powers, Detroit Country Day and Dearborn Divine Child as the only schools with consecutive Class B titles.

Asked what to expect from Goodrich in the coming years, Davis didn’t hesitate to offer this prediction: “More championships, of course.”

Why not?

Davis emerged as a team leader ahead of schedule when Penn State recruit KeKe Sevillian missed the entire season with an injury. Davis, who started as a freshman, averaged 17.6 points as the number two scorer behind Gleason’s 21.6 average.

“I think I’ve grown up a lot,” Davis said. “I learned from KeKe and Taylor. When (Sevillian) went down, I knew I had to step up tremendously and be a leader and take her position on the team, and
also do my part.”

In Gleason and Davis, Gray said Goodrich had the best backcourt tandemin the state.

Their chemistry was evident on one play in particular. Gleason stole the ball and led a full-court break, dishing a behind-the-back pass to Davis, who caught the ball in stride and made the easy basket with
4:46 left in the second quarter.

“I love playing with Taylor,” Davis said. “I’ve played with her basically my entire life. I know everything she’s going to do. She knows everything I’m going to do. The behind-the-back passes, she knows when they’re coming and I know when they’re coming. It’s awesome.”

Goodrich had a strong program before Gleason arrived, but went to a higher level under her watch. The Martians were 101-7 during her career, making three trips to the Breslin Center. Perhaps just as
important as the MHSAA championships in the psyche of long-suffering Goodrich fans, the Martians beat Powers in the postseason all four years.

The Chargers had been a perennial roadblock for Goodrich, beating the Martians in all eight of the rivals’ tournament meetings over a 12-season span from 1997-2009. Goodrich eliminated Powers in the
Districts the last three seasons before new District boundaries separated the Flint-area schools until the Finals.

“I’ve been very fortunate to play with a team as talented as I have these last four years,” Gleason said. “I couldn’t imagine playing with anybody else. The experiences I’ve had with this team and this program
have been unforgettable.”

As for playing Powers in the MHSAA Finals instead of the Districts,  Gleason said: “It was really cool, knowing that Powers has been here multiple times before. My aunt (all-stater Aimee Pearson) carried that
on. It was really cool for my family.”

Powers has four MHSAA Finals championships on its resume, but this was a surprise postseason run for the unranked Chargers after a 3-5 start. Powers (21-7) beat two state-ranked teams along the way in Freeland and Detroit Country Day, but No. 3 Goodrich (25-3) took control immediately, building an insurmountable lead.

Goodrich led 15-2 after one quarter and 28-6 at halftime, as Powers shot 3 for 31 (9.7 percent) from the field. The Chargers didn’t get closer than 14 points in the second half.

“The first quarter kind of defined the tone of the game,” Powers coach Thom Staudacher said. “Once we got down that big, it was difficult for us to dig out. Going into halftime, at Powers it’s not really a guideline; it’s a rule that we’re never going to give up.”

Powers’ quest for its first MHSAA title since 2001 will continue next year with a squad that should return virtually intact. The Chargers lose only two seniors, starters Darbie Barkman and Kim Berry.

“This year was definitely one to remember,” said junior guard Ally Haran, who had nine points and five steals. “No one expected us to even make it this far. We were expected to lose in Districts. We kept pushing and pushing, knowing we could make it. We made it this far. It’s going to stay in the back of our mind that we lost this game tonight, but that’s going to push us to keep playing well and to be ready for next year.”

Junior Michela Coury grabbed 19 rebounds for Powers, while junior Sarah Ruhstorfer had nine points.

While Goodrich and Powers have a huge local rivalry, only two of the 12 postseason meetings between the teams have been decided by fewer than 15 points. The most memorable edition of the rivalry came in the
2002 Regional championship game at Imlay City, when power forward Erin Carney hit the only 3-pointer of her four-year career to beat the buzzer in Powers’ 42-41 victory.

“These last four years we’ve defeated Powers, but there’s a lot of heartbreak in a lot of Goodrich girls basketball alumni in the 10, 12 years prior to this,” Gray said. “Tania made a point that this one was for those alumni who scratched and clawed. Sometimes they challenged them, sometimes they got beat down good. It makes me happy they’re thinking big picture.”

Click for a full box score. 

PHOTOS: (Top) Goodrich's Taylor Gleason works to drive past Flint Powers' Darbie Barkman (1) during Saturday's Class B Final. (Middle) Powers' Hannah VanAlst goes up for a shot over a Goodrich defender. (Top photo by Hockey Weekly Action Photos; middle photo by 

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.