Girls’ basketball in 1963 was a different game for many reasons, but the biggest was the fact that there were 12 players on the court at one time — six players on each of the halves during the entire game.
The rules of the day required each team to have six players in a half-court set up with three forwards and three guards.
The forwards would be strictly on offense and the guards on defense, needing to pitch the ball over the half-court line in order to have an opportunity to score.
According to Betty Faith Jaynes, a legendary figure in Newton basketball history and founding director and first chief executive officer of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, the rules remained that way until the late 1960s.
Her first encounter with women’s basketball as we know it today was after graduating with her master’s from UNC-Greensboro and starting her first job at James Madison in 1969-70.
Until then, the only version of women’s basketball she knew was played because of rules forming a more ignorant culture.
“The people in this country who were teaching girls felt like that type of activity, running up and down the court like the boys, was detrimental to the health of women, especially in child bearing,” Jaynes said. “They got their mind set on it, the people who governed it, really across the country.”
The 1963 Newton girls’ state-runners-up basketball team used this 6-on-6 system well. Today’s game requires each player to perform on both the offensive and defensive end, making it difficult for those, such as the grandchildren of the ’63 Lady Rams, to imagine it.
“What they think is so funny is that we played half-court,” said a forward on that team, Rosemary (Laster) Powell. “That’s what everybody played so we didn’t think it was unusual. That’s what everyone did.”