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50 years of girls basketball: A Montana timeline from 1897 to the present

From the Celebrating 50 years of girls basketball in Montana series
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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.

Gallatin girls 1908

The Gallatin County High School girls basketball team was crowned state champions in 1908. Another champion wouldn't be crowned 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.

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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