6-on-6 Basketball

Six-on-six basketball or basquette is a largely archaic variant of women's basketball. It is played with the same rules as regular basketball, with the following exceptions:

  1. Teams have six players each instead of five; three "forwards" and three "guards".
  2. Only forwards are allowed to shoot the ball. Forwards must stay in their teams' frontcourt (the side of the court they shoot from) and guards must stay in their team's backcourt. For example, Team A's forwards would be on the left side of the court with Team B's guards on defense. Team B's forwards are on the right side of the court with Team A's guards. Thus, forwards play only offense and guards play only defense.
  3. In some forms, unlimited dribbling is not allowed. Once in possession of the ball, players may dribble the ball up to two times; at that point, the player must shoot (if a forward) or pass to a teammate. Both forwards and guards may handle the ball.

Today, nearly all women's basketball leagues (pro, college, and high school) play by the same basic five-on-five rules (size of the ball and the distance of the three-point line are two of the few differences). In the United States, the last major sanctioning bodies were the high school state athletic organizations of Iowa and Oklahoma.

Last six-on-six games played

Beginning in 1958 the Office of Civil Rights started looking at banning six-on-six high school girls basketball.[1] It would take 37 years to phase it out.

  • 1978: Texas[2]
  • 1993: Iowa[3]
  • 1995: Oklahoma[4]

Notable personnel

  • Coaches:
    • Bertha Frank Teague, Byng High School, Byng, Oklahoma. Won three straight state tournament championships in the 1930s (1936-1938), a record that was not equaled in Oklahoma girls' basketball until 1987 (now that Oklahoma has switched to five-on-five, and established multiple enrollment-based classifications in the sport—now seven—it has become easier to "three-peat"). She retired in 1969 after winning her seventh state championship that season. Teague had a winning percentage of .907 (1,136 victories, 116 defeats) over her 43-year coaching career.[5]
    • Vernon "Bud" McLearn, Mediapolis High School, Mediapolis, Iowa. A 333-8 home court record (included home winning streaks of 97, 84, and 66 games). McLearn finished coaching with a 706-80 overall record.[6]
    • Rose Marie Battaglia (NJ High Schools)
  • Players:
    • Kelli Litsch, Thomas High School, Thomas, Oklahoma. Back-to-back state championships in 1980 and 1981, set a new state tournament scoring record of 338 points in nine games over three years, for a 37.6 point-per-game average. She led the Thomas Lady Terriers to a 77 wins and only 9 loses over her three seasons, scoring a then-record (boys or girls) 3,364 total points.[7]
    • Lynne Lorenzen, Ventura High School, Ventura, Iowa. Set the national high school girls' career scoring record with 6,736 points. For the 1986-87 season, she led her team to a 31-0 record and state championship.[8]

Notable games

  • The 1968 Iowa girl's state high school championship game. Union-Whitten beat Everly 113-107 in overtime. Everly's Jeanette Olson scored 76 points and Denise Long of Union-Whitten 64.[9]

New Jersey variation

Until 1975, New Jersey also played 6-on-6 for girls High School basketball, however the rules were slightly different. In NJ, 2 players were offense only, 2 defense only and 2 were able to move freely on both offensive and defensive ends. Defense or offense only players could not move beyond their respective midcourts. In general, the best athletes were those playing both ends of the courts, while offense would usually have both an inside (big) player and an outside shooter type. Defense only players were usually taller players and used for rebounding purposes only.

At the time NJ played 6-on-6 basketball, the game was primarily played in parochial schools. Among the powerhouse teams of the 1960s and early '70s were Paramus Catholic, Mother Seton, St. Vincent's Academy, St. Aloysius, Benedictine Academy and East Orange Catholic High Schools


Six-on-six basketball has been chronicled in such media as the 2004 book "The Only Dance in Iowa: A History of Six-Player Girls' Basketball" by Max McElwain, and in the 2008 Iowa Public Television special "More Than a Game: Six-on-Six Basketball in Iowa."[10] "Six-On-Six: The Musical", a show by Robert John Ford celebrating the sport's popularity in Iowa, debuted in 2009 at Hoyt Sherman Place in Des Moines.[11]

The format is currently in use by the Granny Basketball League. Formed in Iowa in 2005, the league consists of women aged 50 and older who play by 1920s rules and wear 1920s-style uniforms.[12]


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