Lively Tales About Dead Teams

December 17, 1978 – Iowa Cornets vs. New York Stars

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Iowa Cornets vs. New York Stars
December 17, 1978
Veteran’s Memorial Auditorium – Des Moines
Attendance: 4,231

Women’s Professional Basketball League Programs


Women’s professional basketball came to the state of Iowa for the first time on this Tuesday night in December 1978.  The occasion was the local debut of the start-up Women’s Professional Basketball League (1978-1981).  Iowa was the smallest market in the new eight team league, but the Hawkeye State was considered a hotbed of support for school girl basketball, or rather “Six-on-Six”, a regional variant of the sport played only by girls.  In Six-on-Six, each team featured three guards who could not cross midcourt into the offensive zone and three forwards who could not cross back into the defensive half.  Iowans packed the Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Des Moines each winter for the girls state basketball tournament, which would continue to use Six-on-Six rules up until 1993.

The Veterans Memorial Auditorium was also the site of this game between the WPBL’s Iowa Cornets and the visiting New York Stars.  A crowd of 4,231 curiosity seekers turned out for the twin novelties of watching women play professionally and also by the “boy’s rules” of five-on-five basketball.

Donna Geils of the New York Stars led all scorers with 23 points.  Years later, under her married name of Donna Orender, she would become a sports executive and serve as President of the WNBA from 2005 to 2010.  But the Cornets got the lead early and held it, thanks to 20 points from Joan Uhl and 16 from center Doris Draving.  Iowa won 99-87.

Both the Iowa Cornets and the New York Stars would exist for two seasons before going out of business.  The teams played their final games against each other, meeting in the 1980 WPBL Championship Series at the end of the league’s second season in April 1980.   The Stars defeated the Cornets to take the championship.  Both teams folded later that summer.



Iowa Cornets Home Page

New York Stars Home Page


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