It's a first for female basketball referee

David Goricki
The Detroit News

Detroit — Delonda Little is set to add her name to the Michigan high school basketball history books.

Tonight at Calihan Hall, Little will become the first female official to work a Public School League title game.

"I've done the boys PSL semifinals for two years, so this is my first time working the finals," said Little, who has officiated for 11 years, working more boys games than girls. "It should be fun."

Little, 43, hopes this ultimately leads to more games at Calihan Hall as a Division 1 women's official.

"She's one of the best around, regardless of gender," said Derrick McDowell, whose unbeaten Detroit Western team faces Renaissance in the matchup. "An outstanding referee."

Little worked a PSL girls basketball semifinal last Monday, followed by a PSL boys quarterfinal the next night.

"I officiate five to six days a week and I work everything in our area, the GLIAC, WHAC, MIAA, JUCO and high schools," Little said. "I'd like to do Division 1 games one day.

"I've attended Patty Broderick's officiating camps during the summer every year in Cincinnati. She's the Division 1 assigner for women's college basketball, so I'm hoping to get a shot at working games at that level soon."

So, how did Little get her start in officiating?

"A friend of mine, Cozette Ealy, who also officiates, asked me," said Little, who graduated from Osborn High before playing basketball at Wayne State. (She was inducted into its Athletic Hall of Fame 10 years ago.) "(A) Division 1 official from our area, Lenny Memminger, told us they needed African-American females, specifically for women's basketball, and because we played, we would do well and advance quickly."

In addition to officiating, Little is a parole supervisor for the Department of Corrections in Detroit.

Little joins Nicole Randolph as female officials who have worked PSL title games — Randolph was a member of the crew for the PSL football championship game last season at Ford Field.

PSL championship

Both games Friday at Calihan Hall, Detroit

■Girls: Cass Tech vs. King, 5 p.m.

Boys: Western vs. Renaissance, 7:30 p.m.