On an April night in 1973, the All-American Redheads stopped in Cannon Falls for one of the 200-plus basketball games they crammed into their seven-month nationwide barnstorming schedule. Lynnette Sjoquist and her twin sister, Lynnea, sophomores at Golden Valley Lutheran College, had driven home for the game.

They had graduated from Cannon Falls High School a couple years earlier, pre-Title IX, meaning they didn't have the opportunity to play organized high school girls' sports.

"I thought, 'Oh my gosh, I've died and gone to heaven,'" Lynnette Sjoquist said. "Here were people traveling, playing basketball seven nights a week and seeing different parts of the country. We were naïve enough to think we could walk up to the coach after the game and ask how we could try out."

Which is just what they did, and the next season the Sjoquist twins were part of the All-American Redheads, a fact Lynnette believes was helped by the promotional opportunities of being able to bill the team's post players as "The Minnesota Twins." The Redheads, by the way, were just that, thanks to ample use of hair coloring.

Lynnette Sjoquist, now the radio analyst for Gophers women's basketball, played four seasons for the Redheads, then joined the Minnesota Fillies for their inaugural professional season in 1978-79.

The Sjoquist twins plus several other former Redheads with state ties -- Connie Mack, Diane Martinson, Gretchen Pinz Hyink and Sherrie Mattson -- will be bestowed with a Special Merit Award at Wednesday's 24th annual Minnesota Girls and Women in Sports Day at the State Capitol, starting at noon. (For the complete list of those being honored, see Scoreboard).

A Sports Illustrated story in 1974 during Lynnette's first season with the team called the Redheads "the best women's basketball team in North America. ... If they were men, they would be famous. They would be rich."

Instead, they traveled to their 200-plus appearances in a stretch limo, averaging about 300 miles of travel, and as many as 600, before every game. The games were played mostly in small towns against a local men's team. The Redheads won far more than they lost. Lynnette says, without the slightest hesitation, she'd do it all again.

"The memories can come from a couple different directions," Lynnette said. "I got to meet some unbelievable people who came to the games, like Hank Aaron. I got to play against people like Joe Theismann. That's one hand. The other hand is the overall experience, to me, was carrying the banner for women's sports. ... That drove it for me.

"We played mostly in smaller towns, and I think that's where the impact was. Not only showing everyone you could play, but showing young girls in the audience that they could play, and be a part of athletics."

She has to look no further than the college women's games she broadcasts to know the success of those efforts.