Performance: Kent City's Kaitlyn Geers
December 8, 2015
Kent City junior - Basketball
Geers, a 5-foot-11 forward in her third season on the Kent City varsity, scored the game-winning basket on a near baseline-to-baseline lay-up (see video below) during the closing seconds of her team’s 59-58 win over Muskegon on Dec 4 – earning her the inaugural Michigan National Guard "Performance of the Week."
The Class C Eagles have beaten the Class A Big Reds during the opening week three seasons in a row, but were in jeopardy of seeing that streak end when Musekgon senior Mardrekia Cook – arguably the top player in the state and a Michigan State University recruit – stole an inbounds pass intended for Geers and scored with 17 seconds to play to put the Big Reds ahead by one. On the ensuing inbounds, Geers instead passed it in, got the ball back and drove the length of the court for the winning score. She finished with a team-high 23 points.
Geers averaged 18.5 points and seven rebounds over two games last week, and 11.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.4 steals per game in helping the team to a 19-4 record in 2014-15. Kent City is a combined 38-9 with her on the roster over the last three seasons. Only a junior, Geers has committed to sign next year with Saginaw Valley State University, where she plans to study athletic training and eventually physical therapy. She also plays volleyball and sprints for the track and field team, carries a 4.0 grade point average and is a member of her school’s student council and National Honor Society chapter.
Coach Scott Carlson said: “Kaitlyn has worked constantly on her game to be the player she is today. It is exciting to see the growth and confidence as she matures. She has the ability to get to the rim that many players do not have, and on top of that she is unselfish. She makes the extra pass to the open player to get her team a better shot. She is fundamentally sound and has an all-around game in that she can post up, bring the ball up the court, pass, rebound and defend. Kaitlyn creates match-up problems for many teams.”
Performance Point: “When I got the ball, I knew I had about 10 seconds to get down the court. I knew I had to get there, get somebody the ball or get to the rim. I knew I didn’t have much time; I tried to keep myself calm and keep my team calm.”
Sign of things to come: “We put a lot of work toward that game. We always talk about preparing for Muskegon in the beginning of the season, getting in shape for running the court and getting ready to run the court and play defense because (Cook) is a great driver. The little things, we really, really work only. (Winning Friday) shows we’re going to get better. We pushed for that big win, and we’re going to push for (every) win at that time, and hopefully we’ll go far.”
On the rise: Geers grew eight inches as an eighth grader, changing her basketball game dramatically. “When I was younger, I wasn’t nearly as fast as I am right now. I was a lot shorter. I was really uncoordinated. I grew into my body a little bit. When I was younger, I was the ninth man, 10th man. I was not into my body yet.”
Train to train: “I love biology and science, and I’m going to major in athletic training and pursue physical therapy. I had some encounters with physical therapy (during the above-mentioned growth spurt) and I wanted to go into the health field – and not deal with blood.”
All-Around Achiever: Geers made first-team all-league in the Central State Activities Association Silver as a sophomore in helping her team to league and District titles, but she also played a big role in the volleyball team’s first league title since 2001. She earned all-league second-team honors for track in helping that team to a league title this spring as well. “It keeps me in shape. Bouncing from one to another, I don’t have to get in shape multiple times. … I always say I don’t like to sit down. Sometimes in class I have to stand up and walk around. It keeps me focused. I like to be busy, I guess. I play basketball, I play volleyball and run track, and I go to school. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. My whole family is like that. We run on sports, friends, family and school.”
– Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor
Beginning this week and continuing throughout 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, respond 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.
PHOTO: Kaitlyn Geers defends at the top of the key during last week's win against Grand Rapids Union. (Photo courtesy of Kent City athletic department.)
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.