As part of a continued celebration of Title IX and advancements in girls’ sports at state championships this year, the TSSAA welcomed back four former girls’ basketball state championship teams to be honored during the 2023 Girls’ Basketball State Championship games on March 11th at the Murphy Center. Each team member in attendance received a commemorative medal designating them as a “TSSAA Title IX Trailblazer” for propelling the sport of basketball to where it is today. At the conclusion of each game, members of these historic teams returned to the court to present the medals to those girls selected to the 2023 All-Tournament team.
Tennessee enjoyed an Invitational Girls’ Basketball Championship as early as 1922, but girls’ basketball was first officially sanctioned as a TSSAA sport for the 1957-1958 school year. At the time, girls participated in the half-court, 6-on-6 version of the game. These early years grew the sport and helped set the stage for what would be a movement in the state of Tennessee towards more athletic participation and opportunities for girls. Loretto High School won the first-ever girls’ basketball state championship in 1958. Five members of the 1958 Loretto team were recognized during halftime of the Class 4A Championship game. In attendance were Sarah Green Robison, Sandra Hanson Hill, Marion Joiner Yarber, Rebecca King King, and Perry Stephenson Wright.
1958 Loretto HS team
The impact of Title IX was a movement away from the half-court, 6-on-6 format for women to the full-court game we know today. In March of 1980, TSSAA crowned the first Full-Court Girls’ Basketball State Champions. Girls in Tennessee were finally able to prove that they were physically capable of playing the modern 5-on-5 game, paving the way for new opportunities to excel and be challenged that all girls and boys deserve. This change also opened the door for Tennessee girls to be recruited for athletic scholarships to play college basketball, since they now had experience playing both offense and defense.
Pickett Co. High School became the first-ever TSSAA Full-Court Girls’ Basketball State Champions in Class A, following 3 straight years as half-court state champions. The school remains in a tie for the TSSAA record for most consecutive girls’ basketball state championships. Doe Garrett was named the MVP of the final half-court tournament in 1979, making her the only guard to receive that honor without scoring any points. She followed it up by earning MVP honors in 1980 as the Lady Bobcats defeated ECS in the title game, played in Murphy Center. All 5 starters scored in double-digits in that game, and the team outscored their opponents in the tournament by an average of 21 points per game. They finished the season with a record of 35-2. Recognized during halftime of the 1A Championship were Doe Garrett Webb, Rebecca Kay Rains Staton, Perri Lynn Huckeby Capps, Debbie Huddleston Wright, Brenda Upchurch, Norma Garrett Mitchell, Sheila Aaron Gleaves, Robin Padgett Vaughn, Teresa Ferrell Bowden, Renee Rich Claborne, Jamie Hill Garrett, Kathy Melton Mitchell, Jeanetta White Hammock, and Head Coach Sam Gibson.
1980 Pickett Co HS team
Marshall County High School won the first TSSAA Full-Court Girls’ Basketball State Championship in Class AA. Coached by Don Steely, the Tigerettes finished the season with a 26-2 record following a victory over Chester County in the title game. Coach Steely’s teams advanced to the state tournament in 6 of the 7 seasons he coached, also winning a half-court championship in 1976. Post player Mary Thomison Crenshaw held the TSSAA girls’ basketball tournament record for best field goal percentage by an individual after shooting 81.2% in her 3 games in the 1980 tournament until this year, when she was eclipsed by Jillian Brigance of Westview High School who shot 91.7% during the 2A tournament. Several members of this 1980 Marshall County squad went on to play in college. Honored at halftime of the 2A Championship were Angie Shelton Datuin, Mary Thomison Crenshaw, Patrease Kelso Eddins (who also represented her sister, the late Dottie Kelso), Sheila McGonigal King, Carletta McLean Webster, Tracy McMillen Davis, Angela Murphy McLean, Lisa Corbin Isley, Manager Amy Vandiver Maddox, and Head Coach Don Steely.
1980 Marshall Co HS team
Pearl High School became the first-ever TSSAA Full-Court Girls’ Basketball State Champions in Class AAA. The Tigers defeated Karns High School in the title game. Seniors Gail Russell, Lisa Caruthers and sophomore point guard Juanita Johnson were named to the all-tournament team, and the team finished the season with a record of 29-2. In attendance during halftime of the 3A Championship were Helen Beard, Ruth Bowman, Lisa Caruthers, Jeana Crowder Chase, Barbara Frazier, Juanita Johnson, Vicky Martin, Susan Steele-Fuller, Rochelle Tisdale, Yolanda Parson and Moesha Faye Parson (sister and daughter of the late Bonita Gail Russell), Maggie Brown (sister-in-law of the late Coach James Stevenson), and Allyson McGill (granddaughter of the late Coach Lemore McGill).
1980 Pearl HS team
A complete video of these halftime ceremonies, as well as in-game commentary with a player from each team, can be found on the TSSAA YouTube channel.
0:00-13:32: 1980 Pearl High School
13:32-21:20: 1958 Loretto High School
21:20-36:41: 1980 Pickett Co. High School
36:41-end: 1980 Marshall Co. High School