COLUMBIA — Three women, ranging in age from 50 to 60, were facing three men on the basketball court. When the women’s defense wasn’t enough to hold off the men’s scoring streak, Melody Derendinger turned to the referee.
“They’ve got longer arms than we’re used to,” she said jokingly.
The women ended up losing the game, but it didn’t matter. It didn’t even count. In fact, before the women even broke a sweat, they had already won a gold medal.
There was only one women’s team registered for the 3-on-3 basketball competition that was part of the Missouri State Senior Games. So three men’s teams agreed to play the women so they could participate.
“It’s a little disappointing that there aren’t more women’s teams, but since we enjoy playing the men’s teams that kind of makes up for it,” said Derendinger of Columbia, who is the team captain. “We’re pretty rough, so we like it better when we can play rougher. The men’s teams were a lot of fun, and they were all really nice to us.”
The competition took place at Columbia College’s Southwell Complex on Saturday. The games consisted of two 12-minute halves played on half-court.
In their second game, the women played the Missouri Rivermen. They trailed 22-10 at halftime, but came out strong in the second half, tying the score at 26 after three minutes and then taking the lead with five minutes left in the game. The women couldn’t pull out the victory, but they were all smiles anyway.
“It was fun, even though it was not really a contest,” said Bev Twellman of Columbia. “The guys kind of went easy on us, but we enjoyed it.”
Chauncey Johnson of Warrenton said he had a good time playing the women’s team.
“We were playing a little lax until they tied the score up,” said Johnson, 65, who played for the Rivermen. “It was fun. They were aggressive and serious about what they were doing.”
The women’s team automatically qualified for the 2009 National Senior Games, and Derendinger said she hopes her team will be able to make the trip to the San Francisco Bay Area to compete.
“If we can get enough people that are willing to go, we will,” she said. “I know a couple of us would really like to.”