Early Years of Youth Basketball In Portage

Submitted by: Bob Miller

This year marks the 60th year of the Portage community having basketball available for youths of the community.

Youth basketball was started in the fall of 1959 and has been available ever since then.

This article will discuss the beginning of youth basketball, the Biddy Basketball years and the start of the organization known as Portage Youth Basketball.  Readers should recall that in 1959, Portage was not yet a city and the population in the 1960 census was 11,822, about 32% of the 2010 census of 36,828.

Willowcreek Middle School was the town’s high school, Aylesworth and Fegley had yet to be built, the Portage Mall was in planning stages and the shopping area across from the current Willowcreek MS was still a field, commonly referred to as Slanger’s Corner.

The PHS gym (now Willowcreek) had opened two years before in 1957.

The only organized sports available to Portage youths, boys, were Little League for 9 to 12-year-old  which was started in 1955 (4 teams and 84 players) and Babe Ruth Baseball for 13 to 15-year-old boys a year or two later.