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The Ayr Rifles

The Ayr Rifles girls’ basketball teams in the 1930s played in what was called the North Dakota High School League. Two players, Lucille Moen and Doris Boyd, were on teams that won 109 straight games.

The streak began in 1938 with 27 wins in a row. In 1939 they went 19-0. In 1940, 20-0. 17 more wins in 1941 made it 83 in a row. By the time the streak reached 100, the Rifles had outscored their opposition 4,409 to 1,087, an average of 44 to 11. It was prehistoric basketball by modern standards. Perhaps these days the score would average something like 88 to 22. Regardless, the Ayr girls were as dominating a dynasty as any this state has seen. Doris Boyd, Lucille Moen and Lila Boyd left high school without ever losing a game.

There were a couple of 6-footers on those title teams, like Lucille Moen. And Lila Boyd could take the ball from one end of the court and hook pass it to the other end. Like most of the players, they were farm girls, growing up with a basketball hoop in the hayloft. The routine was simple: help dad with the chores, sweep the hay out of the way, hope the dust wasn’t too bad, and shoot baskets. Some said the Ayr girls played like boys, because they played against their brothers in pick-up ball.

The Boyd and Moen families contributed eight players in those dynasty years – Anna, Lila, Doris and Charlene Boyd; and Lucille, Mildred, Bernice and Betty Moen. But when the girls were done with high school basketball, they were done. There was no option to play in college.

People who still remember Ayr basketball wonder how good the girls could have been in college. What if Lila graduated in 2017 instead of the 1940s? Would she have been a Division I recruit with a college scholarship? Would she have committed to a university program after her junior year? Most likely. Instead, most of the girls went back to the farm or started a life without basketball.

The Ayr school closed in 1969. About all that’s left to the town is a large, modern elevator, a post office, and Rosie’s Cafe. Only three streets remain, but the legacy of 109 in a row will last forever.

Dakota Datebook written by Jeff Kolpack, from his book, “North Dakota Tough.”

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