These "grannies" are on the ball

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JEFFERSON CITY - March Madness may have just started but the madness in the Granny Basketball League has been going on for the last month in Missouri. 

The women in the league, all 50 years and older, say the fun is not just in the competition, but the enjoyment of being around others their age. 

“The fun of all this, all of the people that play with us, we all just come out to have a good time and get some exercise,” said Passing Fancies player Cathy Libey. 

The league started in 2005 in Lansing, Iowa, when a group of women played an exhibition game. Since then, it has grown to eight states and 31 teams

Sandy Murray, a Capital Chicks player, said the league did not gain traction in Missouri until a group of women came down from Iowa and played a fundraiser game in Jefferson City. 

“There was not a sport for women to play that are older in this area,” Murray said. “When we saw them play, we knew we wanted to start our own teams.” 

Missouri now has three teams: the Capital Chicks, Passing Fancies and Shooting Stars. There are 35 women who play statewide.

The regular season goes until mid-April, with each of the three teams playing each other twice. 

Referee Lura McAllister said they teams are always looking for new players. 

“It is a great experience,” she said. “I would love to see it expand in Missouri  because it is fun and there is nothing else like it.” 

McAllister said teams do not rush players in but start them in the center of the court and begin to teach them the rules of the game as they go along. 

The Granny Basketball League has a unique set of rules, which include no jumping or running. Players can only dribble twice per possession and the court is divided into three sections and players are not allowed to leave their designated area. 

The scoring is similar, shots are worth two points but underhand shots, also known as “granny shots,” are worth three points. 

The league has a national tournament every year. This season's will be in July in Norman, Oklahoma. All three teams in Missouri will be competing.

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