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July 13, 2014

Baksetball grannies can jump

NORMAN — Whizzing past her opponent, Barb McPherson, No. 22, passed the basketball to her teammate, who then went in to score a layup. At the end of four periods, players were tired, but only the sweat trickling down their backs, not their enthusiasm and teamwork, gave that away. Full of athleticism and skill, there weren’t any granny shots on the court this Saturday. These grannies can jump.

The 2014 National Granny Basketball Tournament at the Cleveland County Family YMCA included six teams from various states: two from Iowa, two from Missouri, one from Texas and one from Louisiana. Nine games were played total, three by each team, ending in the championship game.

The Iowa Twister Sisters ran away with the championship game, hardly missing a shot and beat the Louisiana Crushers by more than 20 points. The Iowa Golden Girls finished third in the tournament.

“A lot of women played basketball in their high school years and they get excited to play again,” Audrey Carlson, player and referee, said. “Our minds are 16 but our bodies aren’t. Our oldest player is 89.”

McPherson, founder and president, said the idea for the league came from her father who used to be a basketball coach and told her the story of seeing his first basketball game in the 1920s.

“I thought, ‘we could do that’. So then we had an exhibition game and it’s evolved since then,” she said. “I can’t believe it’s already been ten years.”

The semi-slow moving games are played using 1920s women’s basketball rules — three courts, two dribbles and no physical contact. “Hurrying” is allowed. Players may shoot underhand for three points anywhere on the court.

The league runs January through May with a state tournament in June and a national tournament in July. The league has grown to include 43 teams across Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Louisiana, Texas and Virginia.

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