West Bloomfield Makes Good on Preseason Goal with 1st Finals Win

By Paul Costanzo
Special for MHSAA.com

March 19, 2022

EAST LANSING – Apparently Sydney Hendrix holds a grudge.

The West Bloomfield junior has held onto the hurt from her team’s Regional Semifinal loss to Hartland in 2020, and on Saturday, she let it all out on the court.

Hendrix had 12 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Lakers to a 51-42 victory over the Eagles in the Division 1 Girls Basketball Final at the Breslin Center. 

“We lost to Hartland my freshman year, and I think I was crying for like three days straight,” Hendrix said. “I wanted it so bad, but we couldn’t pull out the win. I’ve been wanting my get-back for a minute now. I’m just so glad we got it.”

West Bloomfield/Hartland basketballThe title win was the first in program history for the Lakers, who last played in a Final in 1989. This year’s team set the goal of winning it all at the first practice, and after losing its opening game against Dexter, won 25 straight to accomplish that.

“I remember November 12, everybody coming together and saying they wanted the state championship,” West Bloomfield coach Darrin McAllister said. “So I knew at that time, our coaching staff, we had to do everything in our power to get us to this point. We bought into the ‘I believe’ mindset. We worked our tails off, and we got here to the Breslin and we did what we had to do.”

West Bloomfield never trailed in the game, and held Hartland at arm’s length throughout most of it. 

Indya Davis led the Lakers (25-1) with 17 points and 11 rebounds, while Summer Davis and Myonna Hooper each scored nine points for the Lakers.

“This game was very personal,” said Hooper, who was also on that 2020 team. “We took it upon ourselves to make sure everybody was in the position they needed to be, everybody was playing their role, everybody was executing, everybody was picking each other’s heads up when somebody was down. From Day 1, we’ve been talking about this, and we never let up.”

Amanda Roach scored 21 points for Hartland to lead all scorers. Emerson Sargeant had six points and nine rebounds for the Eagles (25-2).

Roach had half of Hartland’s field-goal makes in the game, as the Eagles struggled to make shots, finishing 16 of 64 from the field.

West Bloomfield/Hartland basketball“I think West Bloomfield had a lot to do with that, but on the other hand, we did have some good looks,” Hartland coach Don Palmer said. “Shots that we normally make, they didn’t go today. Sometimes, that just kind of feeds.”

West Bloomfield led by as many as 14 points in the second half. Roach tried to pull the Eagles back into the game, and nearly did in the fourth quarter. She hit a long 3-pointer to bring her team to within seven with four minutes to play and put some belief in the Hartland fans. 

The Eagles wouldn’t get any closer, though, until she hit another long 3 with 25 seconds to play that brought her team within six of the lead. But West Bloomfield was able to close the game out at the free throw line. 

“I personally thought we still had a chance with 30 seconds left,” Roach said. “We fight back every single game. I’m just proud of everybody.”

Each Hartland push was met with a response from the Lakers, and often it was the result of an offensive rebound, or two. Hendrix had seven on her own.

“She’s a beast,” Palmer said. “She is strong, she can finish, she’s got a little bit of a mid-range jumpshot. A lot of times when you have teams with ‘superstars’ those other kids get lost in the coverage, but I certainly picked (Hendrix) up on tape.”

Hartland also came into Saturday in search of its first Finals title after advancing beyond the Quarterfinal for the first time.

“Obviously, it feels great to be up here and play with all these girls that I started with,” Hartland senior Leah Lappin said. “Obviously, disappointing because we didn’t play our best. But it was good to play with these girls.”

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS (Top) West Bloomfield’s Indya Davis (24) turns toward the lane Saturday as Hartland’s Lauren Sollon (25) walls off the baseline. (Middle) The Lakers’ Myonna Hooper (4) prepares to make her move toward the hoop. (Below) Sydney Hendrix (5) pulls up for a shot over Sollon’s reach. (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.