Berthoud High School girls team brought home first championship in 1930s
By Dan Karpiel
Long before John Mitchell’s teams at Berthoud High School (BHS) brought home back-to-back state championships in the early 1990s, a group of young Berthoud women had done the same several generations earlier.
In 1933, 1934 and 1935 the BHS girls basketball team, the Spartanettes as they were then called, won the North Central Colorado title. The 1935 team would go on to compete in the National A.A.U Girls Basketball Tournament in Wichita, Kan.
The 1935 team went 19-2 in 21 games that season, out-scoring their opponents by a combined 1150-468 before heading to Kansas. The 1935 Spartanettes won the North-Central Conference, Northern Colorado and Colorado state championships. Invited to play in the national tournament, Berthoud accepted an offer to play a game in Stratton on their way to Wichita to earn an extra $20 in spending money; but biased, home-town officials contributed to the Stratton squad’s 34-32 victory, the first defeat the Spartanettes suffered on the season.
Once in Wichita, the Spartanettes suffered their second and final defeat of the year at the hands of a Des Moines, Iowa, women’s business-college team. Berthoud, then in the consolation bracket of the tournament, defeated the Sedgwick County (Kansas) All-Stars before heading back to Berthoud when their funds ran dry. The vast majority of the 32 teams competing in Kansas were not comprised of secondary-school-aged women, as Berthoud’s was, and instead had adult and college-aged women filling out their respective rosters.
Basketball had a much different look in the 1930s. To prevent the girls from getting “nervous fatigue” from playing in games that were deemed too strenuous, games consisted of six players on the floor simultaneously for each team, three playing offense and three playing defense. A jump ball was contested at center court following each made basket, dramatically slowing the pace of play.
The 1935 team was led by Head Coach Bryon West, and the squad consisted of 19 players – Wilburta Allen, Jane Bein, Allene Bockwoldt (team captain), Ella Rhea Bockwoldt, Lucile Buehler, Alvina Gieck, Marian Hardesty, Marjorie Howell, Oleta Mae Long, Rosemary McCormick, Doris McKanna, Estelle Milburn, Cornelia Rudolph, Betty Sampson, Alma Starck, Irene Stroh, Esther Wagner, Janet Welty and Georgia Windnagel.
The 1935 team was nothing short of dominant from the outset of the year. In three straight contests in the beginning portion of the season the Spartanettes held the opponents to just single digits in scoring. Berthoud defeated Kersey 57-7, LaPorte 76-6 and Wellington 65-8. The Spartanettes would reach their high-water mark of offensive production in their eighth game of the season when they hung 94 points on the board against Estes Park, who were able to muster only 26. Team captain Allene Bockwoldt was the dominant force on the offensive end for Berthoud, scoring a team-best 758 points on the season, a per-game average of 36 points.
It was announced on March 21 the 1935 Spartanettes would be inducted into the Berthoud Sports Hall of Fame as part of the class of 2019.
The Berthoud Sports Hall of Fame is seeking ancestors and relatives of Coach West and the team’s players so they may participate in the Hall of Fame awards banquet on May 23 at Brookside Gardens. Anyone with information to share is strongly encouraged to contact Berthoud Sports Hall of Fame committee members John Beck (970-290-2511) and Jerry Ward (970-290-1468).
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