Performance: Pittsford's Record Winners

March 23, 2017

Jaycie Burger & Maddie Clark
Pittsford seniors – Basketball

Burger and Clark capped an incredible run Saturday leading Pittsford to a 71-31 win over Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary that capped a second straight perfect season, second straight Class D championship run, and gave them an MHSAA record 103 career wins in earning the Michigan Army National Guard “Performance of the Week."

The Performance of the Week has recognized one athlete every week since it’s start during the 2015-16 school year, but splitting up Burger and Clark is impossible. They’ve led the Wildcats to a 103-2 record, and in addition to the two titles also a championship game appearance (and runner-up finish in Class D) in 2015 after they lost only one game as freshmen in a Class C District Final. Both scored 1,000 points during their careers, and Clark also grabbed 1,000 rebounds. This season, Burger, the point guard, averaged 19.1 points and 5.1 assists per game, with 73 3-pointers. Clark, the forward, averaged 16.9 points, 11.6 rebounds and 3.3 steals per game. Clark was named Class D "Player of the Year" by The Associated Press, and Burger also made the all-state first team. Both are 5-foot-9, and both will continue at Hillsdale College – Burger playing basketball but Clark playing volleyball.

They’ve been best friends and teammates since elementary school, and their successes extend past the basketball court. Clark made the Class D all-state first team in volleyball and Burger earned an honorable mention, and Clark won the Lower Peninsula Division 4 Finals discus championship as a sophomore and finished runner-up last season while Burger ran track her first two years of high school and made the Finals as part of relays to end both. Burger carries a 4.0 grade-point average and will be one of four valedictorians this spring, while Clark ranks fifth in her class at 3.98. Burger will major in biology with aspirations of becoming a physician assistant, and Clark will major in business at Hillsdale.

Coach Chris Hodos said: “I’d like to have them for four more years. They’ve done a great job for me, obviously. As freshmen, they were Class C, we lost to a really good team, or else we could’ve gone a little ways there. They’re just great kids. I remember watching them when they were in second grade; they were making left-handed layups in second grade, and you don’t see that, so you knew it was going to be a special group. They want to do everything the right way. … It’s really nice that they’re going (to Hillsdale) because it’s 10 miles from my house, so I can go watch them play at home games. I’m glad they’re both going to a great college, getting a great education, because they’re so smart.”

Performance Point: “I was just so happy to come off the court one last time, and to come off the court and know that we couldn't have done anything more,” Burger said. “There wasn't another game to be played. We came off, we were undefeated, we won the state championship, and there was nothing more we could've done. To know that we left it all on the court and gave every oomph we've got, it’s a great feeling.”

Perfect ending: “It’s been phenomenal. It’s surreal,” Clark said. “Could you ask for anything more? It was perfect. These last two seasons, we have been perfect. And that's doesn't happy very often, and I'm really thankful for my team and everyone; they make me a better player, and I'm going to miss them a lot.”

One more time: “Maddie’s my best friend in the whole world,” Burger said. “I’m just glad that our last game together, we could both just come out and perform as best as we could. It's really special that we could do that together in our last time ever playing any sport together.”

Record setters: “I didn't know that we could even be in (the record book) until the tournament started and I was like, 'Whoa, this could be real. We could get that.' It's awesome for us. Our goal wasn't records, but we just want to win.” Added Burger: “We played together for a long time. In junior pro, we won a lot too. We played AAU together all through middle school. We played together ever since the second grade. Accomplishing this record was never something we had in our radar. We never thought, 'Oh, I want to go undefeated all my high school career,' but we did want to win. We're competitors, and that was very important to us. We just practiced hard, and as it became closer, it became a goal. But all in all, we just wanted to win.”

To become champions: “I would say practice. Get in the gym, definitely, do your skills,” Burger said. “Every day we have a 20-minute skill period in practice … so I just think if you’re a little kid, you need to work on your ball handling, layups and try to get your shot so it’s one-handed.” Clark: “And you need to work hard, and believe in yourself.”

- Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor

Every week during the 2016-17 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 protect lives and property of Michigan citizens during a local natural disaster. 

Previous 2016-17 honorees:
March 16: Camden Murphy, Novi swimming & diving Read
March 9: Ben Freeman, Walled Lake Central wrestling Read
March 2: Joey Mangner, Chelsea swimming & diving Read
Feb. 23: Isabelle Nguyen, Grosse Pointe North gymnastics – Read
Feb. 16: Dakota Hurbis, Saline swimming & diving – Read
Feb. 2: Foster Loyer, Clarkston basketball Read
Jan. 26: Nick Jenkins, Detroit Catholic Central wrestling – Read
Jan. 19: Eileene Naniseni, Mancelona basketball Read
Jan. 12: Rory Anderson, Calumet hockey – Read
Dec. 15: Demetri Martin, Big Rapids basketball Read
Dec. 1: Rodney Hall, Detroit Cass Tech football Read
Nov. 24: Ally Cummings, Novi volleyball Read
Nov. 17: Chloe Idoni, Fenton volleyball Read
Nov. 10: Adelyn Ackley, Hart cross country Read
Nov. 3: Casey Kirkbride, Mattawan soccer – Read
Oct. 27: Colton Yesney, Negaunee cross country Read
Oct. 20: Varun Shanker, Midland Dow tennis Read
Oct. 13: Anne Forsyth, Ann Arbor Pioneer cross country – Read
Oct. 6: Shuaib Aljabaly, Coldwater cross country – Read
Sept. 29: Taylor Seaman, Brighton swimming & diving – Read
Sept. 22: Maggie Farrell, Battle Creek Lakeview cross country – Read
Sept. 15: Franki Strefling, Buchanan volleyball – Read
Sept. 8: Noah Jacobs, Corunna cross country – Read

PHOTOS: (Top) Pittsford's Maddie Clark works for an opening near the basket during Saturday's Class D Final against Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary. (Middle) Teammate Jaycie Burger makes a move toward the basket. 

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.