Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883


Bill Pierce’s almanac: Girls basketball revival

In mid-December of 1908 the girls basketball teams from North Central and South Central high schools already had a couple of games under their belt. NC had faced Blair Business College and Coeur d’ Alene, while SC had played Burke and Sandpoint, Idaho.  A photo of the South Central team posted in the Spokane Chronicle showed 15 young ladies in the billowing uniforms of the day.

For the first 20 years or so of the 20th Century, many local high schools fielded both a boys and girls basketball team. The girls were then regulated to the sidelines. For the next 50 years their only option was intramural play, with archaic rules, such as how many steps you could take before passing the ball.  

After Title IX passed in June of 1972, which mandated schools give girls equal opportunity to participate in sports, area schools began to revive their long dormant programs.

When the Greater Spokane League began play in 1976, most girls’ teams were in their infancy, with only a couple of years, or less, of organized ball. 

The GSL girls started tentatively, with the 10 schools, including Marycliff, only facing each other once during the league season. Linda Sheridan was already building a strong program at Shadle Park, and the Highlanders went undefeated in nine games to take the initial league crown. Denise Schlepp won the scoring title with a 17.9 average. Rogers, led by Paula Nickerson and Laurie Lund, lost its first two contests, but then rallied for seven straight wins to tie CV for second place.

As many schools were still beginning their programs, the playoffs were a combined AA-AAA affair. Shadle, CV, Rogers and University all qualified, with Shadle Park being the only GSL survivor to regional play, along with Cheney.  Both lost their first game at regionals. The Highlanders then defeated the Blackhawks to make it to the consolation finals, where they narrowly lost to Port Angeles 63-62. It was a first taste of what was to come for the GSL, as it has grown to become one of the premiere leagues for girls basketball in the state of Washington. 

Bill Pierce
Bill Pierce is a sports blogger who writes the weekly nwprepsnow prep sports almanac.

Looking for a Grip on Sports?

Vince Grippi's daily take on all things regional sports has been moved to our main sports section online. You can find a collection of these columns here.