The History of Girls High School Basketball in NC

The Two Divisional Game

Three on Three + The Rover

1945 - 1970


NC Girls Basketball Rules from the 1920s - 1971

While this work is dealing almost exclusively with North Carolina high school girls basketball, the following is general information that directly and indirectly affected our state's game.

Circa 1920's
In 1920's through the 1940's, competitive women's basketball flourished in industrial towns, rural areas, and African American communities around the country.
Industrial leagues: Teams of players sponsored by the companies they work for begin to emerge. Companies begin to recruit women right out of high school or college because a winning team is good publicity.
Rules: Two-handed overhead field goal now is worth one point (instead of two, because only vertical guarding is allowed and this shot has been perfected).
Rules: Rules state there must be at least six players on a side, maximum of nine in order to lessen
competition/stress (5 player) and congestion (10 players). Tie games are allowed to stand "to minimize the  emphasis on winning."

The National Amateur and Athletic Federation (NAAF) is founded, committed to boys and girls being on an "equal footing with the same standards, the same program and the same regulations."
Lou Henry Hoover, head of Girl Scouts of America and wife of President Herbert Hoover, helps the Women's Division of the National Amateur Athletic Federation (WDNAAF).

The WDNAAF holds its first conference. It attacks competitive athletics, especially basketball as being unhealthy and inappropriate. Concern that women's scholastic athletics will begin to resemble men's (quasi- professional, corrupt, promoting betting) they promote a "Sports for Sports sake" philosophy.

As interscholastic competition disappears, alternatives developed. Some areas developed "Play Days" during which different schools would gather, mix together and play against each other. High schools throughout stablished athletic clubs for girls. Each school formed teams according to grades. The seniors, juniors, sophomores, and freshmen competed against each other in a manner similar to present-day intramural sports. girls' Athletic Associations remained the most common form of women's sports until the 1970s.
Rules: Eight-minute quarters with two minutes between quarters and a 10-minute half time. No coaching is allowed in the two minutes between quarters.
Rules: Goals scored by one-hand overhand throw, two-hand underhand throw, the shot-put throw and the throw  with back to the basket also count as one point. 37 states hold high school varsity basketball and/or state tournaments.

WDNAAF passes a resolution outlawing extramural competition, opposing gate receipts at women’s games, all travel for women’s games, and all publicity of women’s sports. The National Association of Secondary School Principals supports the resolution. They pressure high school sports associations to disband tournaments and are most successful in Eastern states and large city schools, less so in rural states.
WDNAAF convention in New York City focuses their ire on businesses, chambers of commerce, and church groups who look to improve their public image through successful basketball teams.
Rules: Players must wear numbers on the back of their jerseys.
Rules: Women's National Officials Ruling Committee, the first national women's officiating board is formed.  They publish the pamphlet: "Techniques for the Woman Official as Referee or Umpire in Girls Basketball.
Circa 1930's:
WDNAAF continues to apply pressure and, in many states, competitive basketball at elementary, high school and college level all but disappears.
Rules: Seamless, 30" ball standardized. Allows for new moves such as the bounce pass, lay up, and jump shot.
Rules: Guarding on any plane is made legal (making the game much more exciting and skillful). All field goals now count two points. Two options to start the game: a center throw-in or a jump-up.
Rules: Center throw-in mandatory (no jump-ball to start game).

The All-American Red Heads are founded by C.M. Olson of Cassville, Missouri. The most successful women's barnstorming team ever, they only played men’s teams and by men’s rules. Featured in popular magazines and on television, they continued to play up through the mid-seventies.
Rules: Three-court game changed nationally to two-court game with six players per team at all levels. A team is three guards and three forwards. Only forwards can score but all players are part of action.
Rules: Team scored against, either by field goal or free throw, gets ball at center court (previously, possession alternated after each goal, also at center court).
Rules: Players must wear numbers both front and back.
Rules: Limited two-bounce dribble with no height definition allowed, as well as a timeout for all fouls and free throws, and guarding is redefined-one or both arms, legs or body in any plane now permitted.
Rules: NSWA rule book shows that the official "maximum" size of the court is 94 feet in length by 50 feet in width.
Rules: Rule change allows coaching during timeouts and halftime.
Rules: Overtime period established. Following one overtime, games are decided by "sudden death."

Rules: NSGWS rule book shows the "minimum" size is 72 feet by 42 feet.
Rules: Three seconds in the lane is a violation.
Rules: Ball can be tied-up with two hands around ball held by opponent.
Rules: A missed free throw continues in play (bringing back the art of rebounding).
Rules: After successful field goal or free throw, other team gets ball at the end line. Three-bounce dribble allowed. Each team is permitted two players to roam the entire court and "snatching" the ball once again is permitted.
Rules: Player can hold ball indefinitely if not closely guarded; five seconds if closely guarded (instead of three seconds). Part of old vertical guarding rule returns as "holding both arms extended horizontally" is prohibited. Two free throws awarded last two minutes of each half "to make it unprofitable to deliberately foul." All these changes are made by a joint committee of the Division of Girls’ and Women’s Sports (now the National Association for Girls and Women in Sport - NAGWS) and the AAU.

Rules: Continuous, unlimited dribble becomes official.

Rules: Coaching from the sidelines is no longer a foul.


Rules: Five-player, full-court game and 30-second clock become official under AAU/DGWS rules (not Iowa or Oklahoma).

[Source: Timeline Copyright WomensBasketballOnline.Com and Helen Wheelock]


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