Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

August 22, 2013

Tennessee Shooting Stars defend their National Senior Games championship


CROSSVILLE — Recently, the Tennessee Shooting Stars, a women's  basketball team traveled to Cleveland, OH, to compete in the 2013 National Senior Games. These games are held every two years and normally have 11,000-12,000 competitors in various sports. The basketball competition in the Shooting Stars age group (70-74) consisted of 12 teams (most of them state champions).

The Shooting Stars were the defending national champions, having won the 2011 championship in Houston, TX. The Shooting Stars continued to represent Tennessee in an outstanding manner, defeating teams from Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Michigan and yes, Connecticut, by an average of 20 points to advance to the championship game.

In the championship game, the Shooting Stars faced Michigan, who had come back through the loser's bracket to face the Stars for the national championship.

Michigan came out strong and built a 14-1 lead early in the first half.

After trailing at the 1809, the Shooting Stars mounted a furious 17-2 rally to take the lead and go on to victory, to bring the national title back to their beloved Tennessee.

The crowd was stunned and thrilled by the Tennessee team's come-back and rushed the floor to congratulate this team, who displayed the heart of champions to come back in defense of their title.

The Tennessee Shooting Stars was the only women's team to repeat as national champions. This team has dominated their age division for the last several years and the championship game marked their 36th consecutive win in their age division — the longest win streak in senior women's basketball.

Three of the ladies on the team have won three consecutive national titles, having played on the 2009 Tennessee Amigos team prior to forming the Tennessee Shooting Stars team.

Pat Murphy is currently one of the most successful coaches in senior women's basketball. He has coached four consecutive national champions.

Murphy says, "These ladies are inspired by the success of the Tennessee Lady Vols and believe Tennessee belongs at the top in all levels of ladies basketball. In their 70s, they still work hard to improve their game and they can drive hard to the basket, make three-pointers, pass and play defense.

"They practice every week against men (Rocky Top Ramblers). These ladies are mothers, grandmothers, grand-aunts, some of them great-grandmothers and some are cancer survivors. They are church goers, active with their families and their communities. They revel in the opportunity, wherever they go, to extol the virtues of Tennessee. These Tennessee ladies gain popularity wherever they appear and are remarkable ambassadors for senior fitness and for their state."