Iowa girls started playing organized basketball in Dubuque in 1898 under the standard 5-on-5 rules established by James Naismith earlier that decade. They didn’t find those rules quite to their liking however, and began to devise their own rules, which were standardized by the National Committee of Women’s Basketball in 1899.
The popularity of girls’ basketball in Iowa grew until most towns in the state had teams. the first state tournament was held in 1920 in Des Moines, with twenty four teams competing.
In the mid 1920’s the Iowa High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) first de-prioritized girls’ sports, then tried to eliminate girls’ basketball altogether, saying sports were not appropriate for girls. A group split off from the IHSAA to form the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union which would oversee girls’ sports in Iowa from that time on. The IGHSAU was relatively unique and did not have much company in others states.
Girls’ basketball continued to grow in popularity in Iowa, especially in small towns. It was estimated that more than 700 high schools in Iowa had 6 on 6 teams and in the 1950s more than 70% of all Iowa girls played 6 on 6 basketball.The rules were changed to speed up the pace, encourage scoring and allow more physical play. The stage was set for Maynard to burst upon the scene.