BOZEMAN — A look at the girls high school basketball timeline in Montana, from 1897 to the present:
1897: The first organized girls basketball game in Montana is played at the Fort Shaw Indian School, six years after the game’s invention by Dr. James Naismith.
1900: Jeannette Rankin, who would later become the first woman to hold federal office in the United States, is pictured playing basketball outdoors as a 20-year-old at the University of Montana.
1904: The Fort Shaw team wins the unofficial world championship at St. Louis World’s Fair.
1908: The Gallatin County High School team coached by Anna Krueger Fridley wins the state championship – the last crown for organized girls basketball in Montana until 1973.
1944: The Fairfield girls team defeats the boys team playing boys rules.
1950s: Competitive girls basketball is largely phased out due to limited funding and fears the game was “unladylike” and would lead to “sterility” in young women.
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1960s: Several schools around the state, notably in Billings, are playing unsanctioned games.
1972: The same year the federal Title IX is enacted, the Montana High School Association agrees to sanction girls basketball with a fall season ending in January.
1973: Glendive defeats Deer Lodge 43-39 in Miles City in the first sanctioned girls state championship game in 65 years.
1974: MHSA splits girls basketball into Class A and Class B. Great Falls wins Class A, Granite (Philipsburg) wins Class B state titles.
1977: MHSA splits girls basketball into current four-class system. First champions: Great Falls CMR, Glendive, Harlowton and Manhattan Christian.
1979: Arlee defeats Philipsburg for the Class C title to become the first reservation team to win a crown.
1982: In one of the first Title IX lawsuits, 18-year-old Missoula Hellgate all-state basketball player Karyn Ridgeway is one of three plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against MHSA alleging sweeping discrimination against girls in athletics. The others are from Columbia Falls and Whitehall.
1983: U.S. District Judge Charles Lovell rules Montana discriminates. The subsequent Ridgeway Settlement requires equality for girls in Montana high school athletics. But seasons remain the same.
1985: Two years after Baden Sports develops a smaller ball for the women’s collegiate game, the MSHA adopts the use of the Size 6 ball ahead of the fall girls season.
1986: MHSA votes to install 3-point line for all high school basketball games, starting with the girls in the fall.
1987: Nancy and Richard Deden of Missoula file a complaint with the Montana Human Rights Commission over girls playing basketball in fall and volleyball in winter.
1992: Malia Kipp of Browning becomes the first Native American from a Montana high school to play for the powerhouse Montana Lady Griz basketball team.
1993-94: The Lady Griz finish 9-1 in nonconference play – losing only a close game at No. 1 Tennessee – crack the national 25, win the Big Sky Conference tournament in what is considered the greatest season in league history, and defeat Wisconsin in the NCAA Tournament. The 16-player “Made In Montana” roster is comprised entirely of former Montana high school players.
1998: MHSA forms a committee to devise a plan for changing the basketball season to winter starting in 2000-01.
2000: The Montana Human Rights Bureau orders the MHSA to move girls seasons to align with boys, shifting volleyball to fall and basketball to winter.
2000: Kayla Lambert of Brockton scores 66 points in a game to set a state record that still stands – one point better than the 65 she scored the previous season.
2003: Girls basketball is played in the winter for the first time.
2015: Fairfield wins its 120th consecutive game, a state record for all classes and both genders.
2016: Malta wins its 10th Class B championship, a state record for all classes.
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