The history of Girl’s Basketball – From Smith College to Hammond, LA

According to the website: luckyshow.org and in an article entitled “Girl’s Basquette” – Women Basketball Pioneers, the first official woman’s basketball game was played 129 years ago at Smith College in 1892. It was a very different styled game in the “dawning days” of the sport as it was played on a court that was divided into three sections. Each player had a section that they had to stay in and only a select numbers of players from each team could score. It was set up that way because the game was thought to be strenuous for young females. 

In 1914 the rules were changed to allow for a “two-court” game to be played. Five and then later six players from each team, were restricted to either the offensive or defensive side of half-court. In most states, the rules were that a player could dribble the ball no more than twice before passing or shooting. Up until the early 1940’s, it was even illegal to guard a shooter.  Eventually the game began to slowly evolve into it’s modern day form and style of play. In the 1950’s some states began to allow a “rover” who was a player allowed to play in either zone but the 6 on 6, “two-court” game lasted in amateur women’s basketball until 1970.

Five on five, full court basketball, like it is played today had it’s beginning in 1966 but acceptance of the “modern game” varied. The state of Iowa didn’t allow the full court game until 1983, but the 6 player game lasted in that state for ten more years. Oklahoma also played “two court” until 1993, albeit with unlimited dribbles. The first college season and championship tournament under modern rules was in 1970-71. The last state to abandon high school “six-woman” basketball was Indiana in 1993-94.

Some national records of the “6 on 6” era border on unbelievable, such as the 156 points scored by Marie Boyd in 1924 where she did it TWICE. The worst margin of defeat was one of those games, where Lonaconing Central in Maryland  beat Ursuline Academy 163-3. The biggest shoutout ever recorded was in 1924 where Meriden Washington of Connecticut beat South Norwalk 148-0. OUCH! Edith Olsen scored 128 points in that one which ranks second all time in single game scoring. The single game scoring record in the “modern era” of five-on-five basketball is 113 points by Epiphany Prince of Murry Bergtraum High in New York City who scored 113  in the 137-32 victory over Louis Brandeis High in 2006. Even more incredible was the 54 of 56 field goals she made. 

Can you guess where the high school player who has scored the most career points in the nation hails from? The answer is Louisiana. Her name is Katie Antony, who scored 6,190 points for Anacoco High School from 1998-2003. She played for six years, first hitting the court as a seventh grader. The Louisiana High School career scoring record  in the “6 on 6” game is 4,147 points set by Doris Coleman of Longville High in 1957-61. The single season scoring record is 1,320 points by Danielle Whitehurst of Southfield High in 1988-89.

Carolyn Dossman of Bayou Chicot has the two best, single game scoring marks for the state of Louisiana with 70 points against Chataigner in 1959  and 65 against the same team in 1958. She also has the 7th and 9th best mark in the state of 57 and 55 points scored against Sacred Heart in 1959 in a two out of three game playoff for the district 8B championship. The series is important in LHSAA annals because the 112 points Dossman scored is the most ever in the state in back to back games and combining with the 47 and 53 points Tugg Davenport of Sacred Heart scored it marks the highest combined two scoring games by opponents.  

The Louisiana High School career scoring record  in the “6 on 6” game is 4,147 points set by Doris Coleman of Longville High in 1957-61. The modern day, single season scoring record is 1,320 points by Danielle Whitehurst of Southfield High in 1988-89 and single game record is 61 set by Vicki Johnson of Coushatta High in 1989-90. Lou Ann Simmons of Chatham High is the Jackson Parish single game scoring record holder with 49 points in 1962 against Weston.

The first high school girls basketball champion crowned was Lecompte High School in 1909. The first school from north Louisiana to win a title was Winnsboro in 1921. Fairview High School has the most state titles with 12, including the 2020 crown that broke the tie for the most with Jena and Southwood who both have eleven. Baskin is next with nine followed by Anacoco, Ouachita and Pitkin with eight each. Neighboring Bienville Parish has several schools that have earned the “hardware” including Arcadia (1997, 1998, 2000, 2010, 2016) with five state titles and the now defunct Bienville High with four (1951, 1952, 1953, 1998) and three straight years (1999-2001) where they finished as Class C runner-up. The former Shady Grove High School (1978, 1984, 1985) had three titles, Gibsland-Coleman (1963, 2003) has two and Saline (2009), Castor (1932) and Friendship High (1950), which also is no longer open, has one each. Winnfield (1963, 1964, 2011) leads the Winn Parish contention with three followed by Calvin (2006, 2008) with two. Simsboro (2004) and New Living Word (2017) from Ruston represent Lincoln Parish. 

No Jackson Parish school has ever won a LHSAA state title with only Quitman in 1975 and Chatham in 1989 even having the chance to play for one both losing in the finals. Jonesboro-Hodge has reached the state tournament twice, once in 1986 and again in 2016 but lost in the semi’s each time. Weston also fell in the semi’s in 2001. The best hope for another local team to have shot at a title or at least make it to the state tournament looks to be Quitman, who has a #4 ranking in Class B after a stellar 23-2 season, considered the best in school history. Where they are actually seeded in the playoffs may well play a big role in whether or not they can get there. Class B is very strong at the top in Fairview, Hathaway and Florien, whose resume proves they can play with anybody in the state regardless of classification. All three are down right scary this year and playing any one of them means almost certain elimination. By virtue of having a #4 seed Quitman wouldn’t be forced to play any one of the three until the state semi-finals.

It would be very gratifying to see the Lady Wolverines make it to the state tournament. If you have followed the team you know that there has seldom been such a classy group of young ladies ever assembled. They not only “got skills” but play the  game the right way displaying tremendous character and sportsmanship. This is a direct reflection on the leadership provided by head coach Kyle Leach and assistant April Simonelli as well as the entire Quitman faculty led by Principal Billy Carter. The environment at the school simply breeds quality. If any group deserves a day in the sun it is them. Nothing is given in this world and the Lady Wolverines will have to earn it but that is not out of the realm of possibility as they can  get hot and shoot the lights out. Maybe in a few weeks there won’t be alight left on in Quitman. Not because they got shot out but because everyone turned them off so they could take the trip on the “Highway to Hammond.”

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