Campbell recalls playing on last girls state champs in the early ‘80s

Thursday, February 20, 2020
Campbell recalls playing on last girls state champs in the early ‘80s

Photos courtesy of Peggy Campbell Above, the 1981-82 state champion Herder girls. Below left, Peggy Campbell now and below right, Peggy on the court with her teammates.

Campbell recalls playing on last girls state champs in the early ‘80s
Campbell recalls playing on last girls state champs in the early ‘80s

It was way back in the seasons of 1980-81 and 1981-82 when Peggy Brownlee played on two great Sweet Grass Herder girls basketball teams. The 81-82 squad was also the last girls team to win a state championship. In fact, the Herders won back-toback state titles during her junior and senior years, the first one the previous year.

Those teams both went 24-1, including state playoff games. The 80-81 Herders lost just one regular season game — against Manhattan — and breezed all the way to take the title without a loss the rest of the way. Then the next season, they also lost just one game, this time also against Manhattan in the divisionals. In the two seasons combined, the girls were 48-2.

Peggy, now Campbell, remembers the excitement of those two banner seasons. She said she didn’t play much in 1980-81 as a junior, but came off the bench often for her second season as a 5-8 forward. She said she didn’t score often, but in one memorable game on the road to the 81-82 championship, she sank five of six fields goals against Boulder in a 39-30 Herder win to capture second place in the divisionals.

“Forward Peggy Brownless was particularly impressive in the second quarter when she canned five of six field goals,” said a newspaper account of that Boulder game. Though she didn’t score in any other quarter, her effort tied her season high of 10 points.

“When Peggy hit four of five in a row there it kind of broke it open,” said Big Timber Coach Wes Wagenaar.

The girls that season unbeaten in the regular season, just like this year’s girls, After the setback in divisionals to Manhattan, they roared back to defeat Boulder and Circle to get to the state tourney. At state, the Herders beat Plains, barely beat Simms by two points and then won their second title in a row over Belt, 57-43.

The previous season, the Herder girls won four games at state, and downed Cut Bank, 54-38, for the championship.

Campbell coached the freshman and junior varsity teams for 28 years in Big Timber, so she avidly follows Herder basketball.

“We didn’t really have any superstars,” on her title teams, Campbell said. “We just played with a good team effort. She still attends many of the Herder games and may travel to see the girls in Belgrade for their first district game Friday.

“These girls are fun to watch,” she said. “They play well as a team and they are up and coming for the next seasons, too.”