Performance: Cousino's Kierra Fletcher

March 24, 2016

Kierra Fletcher
Warren Cousino junior – Girls Basketball

It’s fair to say that few outside of Macomb County and perhaps the Greater Detroit area knew much about Warren Cousino girls basketball and Kierra Fletcher in particular before last weekend. But in scoring a combined 64 points over two games and leading the unranked Patriots to their first MHSAA championship, Fletcher became a possible Miss Basketball Award contender for 2017 and earned the Michigan National Guard Performance of the Week.

The 5-foot-9 guard made 14 of 20 shots for 37 points and added nine rebounds and five assists in Cousino’s Class A 60-45 Semifinal win over Hudsonville, then made 9 of 13 shots for 27 points with eight rebounds and five more assists in the 67-65 upset of Detroit Martin Luther King in the championship game. Fletcher managed her high scoring totals by attacking the basket; in fact, she didn’t take a 3-pointer over eight postseason games. She finished with season averages of 22.3 points and five assists per game and made more than 50 percent of her shots from the floor. Cousino finished 23-4 and also shared the Macomb Area Conference Red title.

Fletcher is a strong student, carrying a 3.97 grade-point average, and a thoughtful teammate as well. She dedicated this season to her best friend Erin McArthur, who previously has shared the backcourt with her but tore a knee ligament during the team’s second practice and was forced to miss the season. 

Coach Mike Lee said: We have had great basketball players, DI players, and leaders, but Kierra has taken it to the next level and as a result of that has taken the team to the next level.  On May 21, 2015, she texted me after a rough AAU practice and said, ‘Coach, for whatever reason something clicked tonight and all the things you preach hit home a lot harder, and I am making you a promise that next season is Breslin or bust.’ And after we won on Saturday, she sent me a pic of the text from that day and said, ‘I told you so.’ She is such an amazing kid with a burning passion for the game. You guys only see the basketball player side, but she is a tremendous role model, 3.9 GPA, great friend, watches my own kids. She is what is right, true and pure about high school sports – a homegrown kid that just wants her school and team to be proud.”

Performance Point: “I think I showed people I can play basketball. People don’t really know who I am, which is fine. I guess since I just played on statewide television that people (might say), ‘Oh, that’s Kierra Fletcher.’ It’s going to be humbling (next year). The rankings to us don’t really matter. Just as long as we know who we are, inside the program, that’s all that matters.”

My game: “I don’t shoot 3s. I’m more of a mid-range, pull-up type person. Three-point shots to me, they’re not very high percentage, so I just try to go in closer, because the closer you are to the basket, the more likely you are to go in. … Defense, I just love it. The length of my body and getting steals and breakaway layups is just fun. I like defense more than offense.”

Sharing the rock: “I just want to have a high basketball IQ. It doesn’t really matter how much I score. If I score, I score. If I don’t, I can get my ball to my teammates. I just do whatever I have to do to get the win. … I’m just not a selfish player at all. Sometimes (Coach) Lee tells me I need to be more selfish, but that’s just not who I am. I get hyped when another person on my team makes a play, because it gets me going. Because if I’m getting the layup, it’s just a layup. But if I’m getting someone else the opportunity to score, that’s what matters most to me.”

Investigating her future: If pro basketball doesn’t work out, then I want to major in sociology and narrow it down to criminology and become an FBI agent. I just like to help people. The FBI, it’s different from a police standpoint; it’s more investigative work, being with people and talking with people. I think I’m a people person. That’s something that I like to do.”

Macomb County power: “I think it’s great for Cousino … because everyone knows who Cousino is now. It says a lot because we do have great players in Macomb County. Now, since a team in Macomb County just won a state championship, it gives a whole little watch list for the Macomb County teams. It’s great, because now we’re the poster children of Macomb County.”

– Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor

Every week during the 2015-16 school year, Second Half and the Michigan National Guard will recognize a “Performance of the Week" from among the MHSAA's 750 member high schools.

The Michigan Army National Guard provides trained and ready forces in support of the National Military Strategy, and responds as needed to state, local, and regional emergencies to ensure peace, order, and public safety. The Guard adds value to our communities through continuous interaction. National Guard soldiers are part of the local community. Guardsmen typically train one weekend per month and two weeks in the summer. This training maintains readiness when needed, be it either to defend our nation's freedom, or protecting lives and property of Michigan citizens during a local natural disaster.

Previous 2015-16 honorees
March 16: Jacob Montague, Grosse Pointe South swimming & diving - Read
March 9: Kyle Tuttle, St. Charles boys bowling - Read
March 2: Brittney Schnicke, Caledonia girls bowling - Read
Feb. 24: Kamari Newman, Detroit East English boys basketball - Read
Feb. 17: Jason Whitens, Powers North Central boys basketball - Read 
Feb. 10: Rachel Hogan, Grand Ledge gymnastics - Read
Feb. 3: Nehemiah Mork, Midland Dow swimming & diving - Read
Jan. 27: Mardrekia Cook, Muskegon girls basketball - Read
Jan. 20: Sage Castillo, Hartland wrestling - Read
Jan. 13: Rob Zofchak, Dexter swimming & diving - Read
Jan. 6: Tyler Deming, Caro wrestling – Read
Dec. 15: Jordan Weber, East Jordan boys basketball – Read
Dec. 8: Kaitlyn Geers, Kent City girls basketball – Read

PHOTOS: (Top) Kierra Fletcher (3) makes a move to the basket during Saturday’s Class A Final against Detroit Martin Luther King. (Middle) Fletcher defends during the Semifinal win against Hudsonville.

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.