Martinez Back on Point for John Glenn

December 14, 2015

By Bill Khan
Special for Second Half

BANGOR TOWNSHIP — Laying on the basketball court in pain, Kalle Martinez didn't need a medical opinion to know she was in trouble.

"I knew that the pain I felt I'd never felt before, so I knew something was definitely wrong," she said.

The diagnosis: A torn anterior cruciate ligament in her knee.

What followed was one of the toughest periods in Martinez's young life — life without basketball.

The injury happened during a team camp at Central Michigan University during the summer of 2014, putting her sophomore season at Bay City John Glenn in jeopardy.

While going through rehab was physically and emotionally challenging, she approached the grind of getting healthy with the same work ethic that made Martinez a star as a freshman on a strong varsity team.

"It just gave me motivation when I found out what happened to get better and keep playing like I know how," said Martinez, who said she first picked up a basketball at age 4.

As a result, she was back on the court by mid-January, well ahead of schedule for someone with a torn ACL. She played in 13 out of the Bobcats' 19 games, averaging 10 points a game after putting up 18.8 per game as a freshman.

"Basketball is her life," John Glenn coach Cory Snider said. "When a huge portion of your life gets taken away from you, it's pretty tough. I tell you what, the same way she plays basketball, she attacked her rehab. She came back in 7½, 8 months from an ACL, which is normally a full year's recovery time. She wasn't herself, obviously, for those first couple months, but we kept saying 60 percent of Kalle is better than no Kalle."

"I was not 100 percent at all, but I wanted to play with my friends," the 5-foot-6 point guard said. "I knew I wasn't able to do what I used to do, so I worked with what I had and built from there."

Unable to physically work on her game during her rehab, Martinez tried to improve herself in other ways.

"I watched a lot of film," said Martinez, who received all-state honorable mention as a freshman. "I really just paid attention to detail and how to correct myself."

"She's back to where she was athletically her freshman year," Snider said. "She looks the same. However, she's become a much more intelligent basketball player, which is a huge difference. She sees the floor so much better. That was part of the process of going through that injury last year. She was forced to learn how to play the game instead of just beating everybody."

Martinez was healthy enough by summer to impress the staff at Central Michigan, which offered her a scholarship before the start of her junior year. Martinez accepted, removing the pressure of the recruiting process for her final two years of high school.

"It's a good feeling," she said. "I feel I made the right decision going there. I feel I'm going to fit in really well. It's kind of a relief to know I don't have to go to this camp to get noticed. I feel at home at CMU."

She also feels more like her old self at John Glenn, leading the Bobcats to a 5-0 start that included a 53-44 victory over a Southfield-Lathrup team ranked No. 1 regardless of class in several preseason polls. Martinez had 18 points in that game, hitting five 3-pointers.

"I feel good," Martinez said. "I feel 100 percent now. I'm blessed, because not everyone can say they came back completely."

Martinez doesn't need to fill up the net every night, because she runs an offense that includes Grand Valley State University recruits Jenai LaPorte and Cassidy Boensch.

LaPorte is a three-time honorable mention all-state pick who is John Glenn's all-time leading scorer with 1,223 career points. She averages 14.2 points per game this season, and Martinez adds 12.6. The 6-foot-3 Boensch averages 15.8 points and 8.3 rebounds. Jamie Brisson averages 8.3 points.

"This is the best team we've had by far," LaPorte said. "Just the way we've been playing together for some people four years, for some three years. We have a lot of experience. We know what everyone likes to do."

It's an experienced lineup that has its sights set on winning John Glenn's first District championship since 1991 — and more.

The Bobcats have been a District championship-caliber team in recent years, but were eliminated by Midland Bullock Creek the past three seasons. Bullock Creek reached the MHSAA Class B Semifinals in 2013 and 2014 and was ranked No. 1 last year when it won a 40-39 overtime thriller against John Glenn in the District Semifinals. The Bobcats reached the District Final four straight years before losing in the semis last season.

In order to be better prepared for the postseason, John Glenn loaded up its nonconference schedule. The first five games included Class A contenders Southfield-Lathrup and Detroit Renaissance, 26-time District champion Frankenmuth and Class A Midland. The Bobcats face five-time MHSAA champion Saginaw Nouvel on Wednesday.

"Coming into the year, our mindset was we'd rather go 15-5 and make a deep run in the playoffs than go 20-0 and possibly not be ready for tournament time," Snider said. "We want to make sure we're battle-tested and ready to go once that tournament rolls around. This first two weeks for us has been killer."

Bill Khan served as a sportswriter at The Flint Journal from 1981-2011 and currently contributes to the State Champs! Sports Network. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Sanilac, Huron, Tuscola, Saginaw, Bay, Arenac, Midland and Gladwin counties.

PHOTO: Kalle Martinez sets up Bay City John Glenn's offense during last season's game against Saginaw Nouvel. (Click for more from

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.