Performance: Edison's Rickea Jackson

March 27, 2019

Rickea Jackson
Detroit Edison senior - Basketball 

One of the most celebrated basketball careers in MHSAA history came to a close Saturday, as Jackson in her final high school game led Edison to a 77-58 win over Freeland at Van Noord Arena that clinched the Division 2 championship. The 6-foot-3 guard had 28 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals in earning the Michigan Army National Guard “Performance of the Week.”

Jackson, who also had 26 points and eight rebounds in Friday’s Semifinal win over Haslett, previously had keyed the Pioneers’ runs to back-to-back Division 3 titles in 2017 and 2018. Edison became just the sixth school to win at least three straight MHSAA girls basketball championships. The Pioneers finished 27-1 this winter and went a combined 71-7 over the last three. Jackson leaves a massive legacy, with an interesting side note that she also was continuing a family hoops legacy – her mother Caryn (Shinn) Jackson starred for Detroit Murray-Wright during the early 1990s and played at University of Kansas.  

Earlier in the week, Rickea Jackson was selected as the 38th Miss Basketball Award winner by the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan. She finished this season averaging 22.4 points, eight rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.9 steals and a blocked shot per game and averaged at least 21 points and eight rebounds per game all four seasons of high school. Jackson will play as one of 24 selections for the McDonald’s All-American Game and has signed to continue her career at Mississippi State University, which entered the NCAA Tournament ranked No. 4 nationally and has advanced to this weekend’s Sweet 16. She also excels academically, carrying a GPA above 3.0 into this school year according to her USA Basketball bio. 

Coach Monique Brown said: “Just the competitiveness that she has – just pushing in practice, always getting everyone going – that’s the biggest attribute that she really gives us as far as preparing for games. She’s always pushing and pushing, talking and creating practice wars in practice. That makes games look a little easy for us because we’ve been working so hard in practice.” 

Performance Point: “I believe my teammates and I have left a huge legacy,” Jackson said of the three-title run. “They’re letting me go off to college with three championships, and I can’t do nothing but thank them for that. It's bittersweet. I'm going to definitely, definitely miss high school, but time goes fast and now I'm going off to college."

Every day against the best: “It started in practice with the major DI (college) prospects we have on our team, it just makes it easier when we go against these other (teams). We’re going against DI prospects every day in practice, and they’re pushing me and not letting up on me, so it definitely takes pressure off me in the game, because I do it in practice every day, so in a game it’s no different.” 

All special, in different ways: “The first (championship) was definitely the one that was crazy for us, with all the doubters that we had, but we just fought through adversity and no one thought we could do it. So I would have to say our first championship was the one that really hit me. But this championship means a lot, too, because there was an even bigger target on our back and everyone knows who we are, everybody can see our games on the internet. This is probably one of the hardest ones.” 

The next chapter: “My high school career is officially over, which is crazy to say. But I just can’t wait to get down there, show them what I can do and play on a big court.” 

- Paul Costanzo, Second Half correspondent

Every week during the 2018-19 school year, Second Half and the Michigan Army National Guard recognizes 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 protect lives and property of Michigan citizens during a local natural disaster. 

Past 2018-19 honorees

March 21: Noah Wiswary, Hudsonville Unity Christian basketball - Read
March 14:
Cam Peel, Spring Lake swimming - Read
March 7:
Jordan Hamdan, Hudson wrestling - Read
February 28:
Kevon Davenport, Detroit Catholic Central wrestling - Read
February 21:
Reagan Olli, Gaylord skiing - Read 
February 14:
Jake Stevenson, Traverse City Bay Reps hockey - Read
February 7: Molly Davis, Midland Dow basketball - Read
January 31:
Chris DeRocher, Alpena basketball - Read
January 24:
Imari Blond, Flint Kearsley bowling - Read
January 17: William Dunn, Quincy basketball - Read
November 29:
Dequan Finn, Detroit Martin Luther King football - Read
November 22: Paige Briggs, Lake Orion volleyball - Read
November 15:
Hunter Nowak, Morrice football - Read
November 8:
Jon Dougherty, Detroit Country Day soccer - Read
November 1:
Jordan Stump, Camden-Frontier volleyball - Read
October 25:
Danielle Staskowski, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep golf - Read
October 18:
Adam Bruce, Gladstone cross country - Read
October 11: Ericka VanderLende, Rockford cross country - Read
October 4:
Kobe Clark, Schoolcraft football - Read
September 27: Jonathan Kliewer, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern soccer - Read
September 20: Kiera Lasky, Bronson volleyball - Read
September 13: Judy Rector, Hanover-Horton cross country - Read

PHOTOS: (Top) Detroit Edison's Rickea Jackson brings the ball upcourt during Saturday's Division 2 Final against Freeland. (Middle) Jackson launches a shot from the baseline. 

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.