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Champions of basketball

11/3/2011

The Plain Dealer's Bill Lubinger profiles a Cleveland-area team that has defied all odds: Every player is 80 or older. They call themselves the Oldies but Goodies:

The Oldies' 10-man roster is mainly players from Greater Cleveland, Toledo and Michigan. Teams in the 80-and-over division may cross state lines for players because the pool is limited. Some Oldies played in high school and college. Others never played beyond pick-up games.

Hammeren, who sat out last season with two knee operations, has been on Cutler's team the longest, 17 years. He's 6-3 and still plays full-court a few times a week "with a bunch of young guys in their 60s."

Hammeren drove the lane but missed the layup.

"Oh, [expletive]," he muttered, "like an old man."

Dick Lane, 82, of Livonia, Mich., took a pass, dribbled, tripped and rolled.

"First down!" mocked a teammate.

On his next possession, Lane drove left and banked a beautiful running shot.

The Oldies, by design, are resilient -- and unconventional. In the middle of a play, Hugh Ressler, 85, who showed good ball-handling skills, called timeout when his upper bridge was loose.

"Gotta get rid of my teeth," he said. "About fell out."