West Bloomfield Hangs On to Edge Rockford, Reach 1st Final since 1989

By Keith Dunlap
Special for MHSAA.com

March 18, 2022

EAST LANSING – West Bloomfield girls basketball coach Darrin McAllister said his team has played all sorts of opponents and their varying styles this season, but he admitted he hadn’t seen a team like Rockford. 

And that included Detroit Edison, a squad that hadn’t lost to a Michigan school since 2017-18 before West Bloomfield won their February matchup. 

“We have not faced a team that shoots that amount of threes and has the ability to make them,” McAllister said of Rockford.

Indeed, in Friday’s first Division 1 Semifinal at Michigan State’s Breslin Center, West Bloomfield saw Rockford attempt a whopping 37 shots from 3-point range against the Lakers’ zone, making 13 of them. 

In contrast, West Bloomfield made only three shots from behind the 3-point line. 

“I do play a lot of different zones, but I was definitely searching for something,” McAllister said. 

Despite the barrage of 3-pointers and 30-point disadvantage from behind the 3-point line, McAllister saw his young team overcome and find a way, as West Bloomfield made the winning plays at the end to earn a 66-63 win over Rockford.

The Lakers (24-1) advanced to the championship game for the first time since 1989, when it finished runner-up to Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills. 

“I’m happy that we won, but if I had hair I’d probably have pulled it out by now,” McAllister joked.

The big reason why West Bloomfield was able to survive was its sophomore forward duo, Indya Davis and Summer Davis. 

Indya Davis had 24 points and eight rebounds, while Summer Davis had 16 points and seven rebounds.  

West Bloomfield/Rockford basketballSenior Myonna Hooper added 14 points, and junior Sydney Hendrix had 10 points and 10 rebounds as well for the Lakers. 

“I didn’t take it upon myself,” Indya Davis said of her performance. “I took it upon the whole team and doing it for the team.”

With the game tied at 58-58 with 1:02 remaining, West Bloomfield took a 60-58 lead after two free throws by Hooper. 

Following a turnover by Rockford, West Bloomfield extended the lead to 61-58 when sophomore Destiny Washington hit the first of two free throws with 40 seconds to go.

Washington missed the second free throw, but Summer Davis got the offensive rebound and passed the ball back to Hooper, who was fouled and drained both free throws to give West Bloomfield a 63-58 advantage with 36.6 seconds remaining. 

On Rockford’s next possession, a 3-point attempt by Gabrielle Irwin rimmed out and was rebounded by Indya Davis, who got the ball up to Washington.

After being fouled, Washington split a pair of free throws with 14.1 seconds remaining to give West Bloomfield a 64-58 lead and all but seal the game. 

The teams then traded two free throws each before Rockford hit a 3-pointer right at the buzzer to account for the final score. 

Rockford saw six different players connect on 3-pointers, led by sophomore Grace Lyons, who drilled five en route to a team-high 21 points. 

Rockford coach Brad Wilson admitted his team usually doesn’t shoot that many 3-pointers in a game.

“That’s more than normal, but we are fully capable of doing that,” Wilson said. “Sometimes, you take what the defense gives you. We believe in our kids. It’s a little bit unusual, but all five players on the court have the green light at all times. We just believe in them. We attack gaps and pass where the help comes from. We rep that out all year, so we have confidence that it’s going to go in.”

Rockford was making its first appearance as a program in a Semifinal, and the community certainly followed with a good portion of Breslin Center covered in orange. 

“I am so proud of our community and the support they gave,” Wilson said. “Just to be a part of something like that, a sea of orange, was just so much fun.” 

Rockford held a 31-26 lead at halftime and was up 36-30 in the third quarter before West Bloomfield went on a 9-0 run to take a 39-36 lead with 5:52 left in the period.

Rockford then got hot from the perimeter again, hitting three more 3-pointers before the quarter ended to take a 49-48 lead into the fourth.

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS (Top) West Bloomfield celebrates its Division 1 Semifinal win over Rockford on Friday. (Middle) The Lakers’ Sydney Hendrix (5) gets a shot up over a pair of Rams defenders. (Click for more from Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)

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.