Six-on-six basketball

Six-on-six basketball or basquette is a largely archaic variant of basketball, usually played by women and girls. 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.
  4. There is no three-point line; all field goals are worth two points. (The three-point line would not be added to the collegiate rules until the 1980s, by which point six-on-six was mostly phased out.)

Today, nearly all women's basketball leagues (pro, college, and high school) play by the same basic five-on-five rules as men, with only minor differences such as size of the ball and the distance of the three-point line. In the United States, the last major sanctioning bodies to abandon the six-on-six variant were the high school state athletic organizations of Iowa and Oklahoma. The sport is still occasionally seen at the recreational level, such as during physical education classes; in these cases, both boys and girls play the game.

Last six-on-six games playedEdit

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.

April Coleman took the last shot ever for 6 on 6 basketball in the United States for the Pocola Indians in the 2A Oklahoma state title game. The second-ranked Lady Indians avenged their only loss of the season with a 64-58 overtime victory over No. 1 and previously unbeaten Indianola Warriorettes before 6,500 fans of the longtime girls sport at State Fair Arena.[6]

Notable personnelEdit

  • Coaches:
    • Bertha 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.[7]
    • 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.[8]
    • Rose Marie Battaglia (NJ High Schools)
  • Players:
    • Molly Bolin, star of the early Women's Professional Basketball League, who averaged 55 points a game as a senior at Moravia High School.[9]
    • 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 77 wins and only 9 losses over her three seasons, scoring a then-record (boys or girls) 3,364 total points.[10]
    • 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.[11]
    • Trish Head, of Henrietta, Tennessee. Head, like almost all Tennessee high school girls' basketball players, played the six-on-six game in high school before switching to the five-on-five code in college; in her first years after graduating, she helped her underclassmen transition from the six-woman game to five-on-five. Head would later become an illustrious women's basketball coach at the University of Tennessee better known under her married name, Pat Summitt.

Notable gamesEdit

  • 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.[12]

New Jersey variationEdit

Until 1975, New Jersey also played 6-on-6 for girls High School basketball, however the rules were slightly different. In New Jersey, two players were offense only, two defense only and two 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 New Jersey played 6-on-6 basketball, the game was primarily played in parochial schools. Among the powerhouse teams of the 1960s and early '70s were Mother Seton, Paramus Catholic, 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.[13] "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.[14]

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.[15]


  1. ^ Evans, Murray. - "Looking Back on Oklahoma/Sept. 27". - The Oklahoman. - September 27, 1988.
  2. ^ a b Baldwin, Mike (January 15, 1984). "Proponents Feel Six-on-Six Is Still Girls' Best Game". The Oklahoman. Retrieved November 19, 2019.
  3. ^ Richards, Joey. - "Half-court press: A history of girls hoops". - Galveston County Daily News. - February 27, 2005. Page B1.
  4. ^ DeSimone, Bonnie. - "Iowa girls bid adieu to tradition - Six-on-six to become just a memory" - USA Today. - March 10, 1993.
  5. ^ Canning, Whit. - "DEEP-SIXED - Tournament in Oklahoma is swan song for traditional half-court girls basketball". - Fort Worth Star-Telegram. - March 12, 1995.
  6. ^ "Pocola Ends on Highest Note Top-Ranked, Unbeaten Indianola Loses in Overtime to No. 2" - "". - March 12, 1995.
  7. ^ Soldan, Ray. - "Basketball's First Lady Dead at 92 - Byng Legend Teague Leaves Winning History". - The Oklahoman. - June 15, 1991.
  8. ^ Levins, Matt. - "McLearn Top 10 story". - The Hawk Eye. - December 29, 1999.
  9. ^ Finney, Daniel P. "Whatever happened to 'Machine Gun' Molly Bolin, the Iowa basketball star who signed the first women's pro contract?", Des Moines Register, January 9, 2020, updated March 2, 2022. Accessed November 6, 2022. "Molly Bolin grew up in a magical age when six-on-six girls’ basketball ruled Iowa winters. The 2019-20 season marks the 25th without the six-player game and a time when the last of its stars are reaching their mid-40s.... She would grow up to be one of the most prolific scorers in Iowa girls’ basketball, averaging nearly 55 points per game her senior year."
  10. ^ Kelli Litsch - Assistant Athletic Director/Compliance. - SWOSU.
  11. ^ Gray, Rob. - "Sunday Register's Iowa Sports Hall of Fame". - Des Moines Register. - August 19, 2001.
  12. ^ McElwain, Max (2004). The Only Dance in Iowa. Bison Books. p. 118. ISBN 0-8032-8299-0.
  13. ^ Laurel Bower Burgmaier (2008). "More Than a Game: Six-on-Six Basketball in Iowa" (television). Johnston, Iowa: Iowa Public Television.
  14. ^ "Six on Six: The Musical". Retrieved March 8, 2010.
  15. ^ "Granny Basketball". Retrieved March 8, 2010.