Pittsford Sets Pace to Reach 1st Final

March 19, 2015

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

EAST LANSING – Pittsford coach Chris Hodos said he’s never lied to his team about its chances in a game, and sophomore Jaycie Burger backs up that claim. 

This season, he’s told his Wildcats they should win every one. And so far, he’s been right – with the most important result left to predict.

Hodos said win big Thursday, and undefeated Pittsford responded, advancing to its first MHSAA championship game with a 57-26 Semifinal win over Waterford Our Lady in a Class D Semifinal at the Breslin Center. 

The Wildcats – who had never advanced past Regionals before this season – will face St. Ignace in Saturday’s 10 a.m. championship game.

“I think for me, it’s going to feel like, I don’t want to say the same as every game. It’s going to be more intense, more straightforward,” Burger said. “(But) we all need to play the same way we’ve been playing all year.” 

And that’s been at a record-setting pace.

Pittsford (26-0) has been the only undefeated team left in Class D since midseason, and Thursday it became easy rather quickly to see why. The Wildcats led by 11 at the end of the first quarter – and by the end of the fourth added a 19th game in 26 in which they’d held the opponent to fewer than 30 points. 

Sophomore Maddie Clark also announced herself loudly on the statewide stage. The nearly 5-foot-10 forward dominated, with 26 points – including 18 of her team’s first 24 – and 15 rebounds.

“She’s strong. Nothing bothers her,” Hodos said. “She takes all the contact, and she works hard in the weight room for me, just like every other girl on my team.” 

Pittsford had an edge statistically in a variety of areas, but did outrebound Our Lady 59-35. Senior 5-5 guard Emily Poling grabbed eight rebounds, and Burger added seven to go with 10 points.

The Lakers as a program have much more experience at this stage of the tournament, with three championships and a runner-up finish from 2010-13. But this team also was gaining Finals weekend experience with a number of younger players, and was far less expected to reach Breslin – Our Lady finished 12-13 this winter and didn’t have a senior starter. 

“The experience was still great. It’s always exciting any time you get the chance to get here,” Our Lady coach Steve Robak said. “I’m very proud of everything we did to get here this year. Most schools would never get an opportunity to get this.

“We were hoping to keep our little run going, one more game at least, but the experience was wonderful. I know they’re going to have great memories about getting to this point.”

Freshman guard Tiffany Senerius had 10 points and three steals for the Lakers, and junior guard Alex Troy added six points and 10 rebounds. 

Seven of eight players who saw the floor most Thursday should return next season. And the Lakers finished 2014-15 on a 9-4 run.

“We’re returning all five starters, and I think we can do really good things next year,” Troy said, “now that we’ve gotten into our groove at the end of the season.” 

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Pittsford’s Morgan Dominique wins a loose ball during Thursday’s first Class D Semifinal. (Middle) Maddie Clark (10) and Our Lady’s Alex Troy contend for possession below the Wildcats’ basket.

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.

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.