When the members of the West Virginia Freedom first got together, they didn't know the difference between offense and defense.
Now the members of the fifth-grade girls Amateur Athletic Union basketball team have not only brushed up on their vocabulary - they're also consistently winning games and doing it against girls who are often two and three years older.
After playing more than 120 games this past season, the 11-member traveling squad of close-knit friends won a Mother's Day tournament In Parkersburg.
Despite being in fifth grade, the girls managed to outplay sixth-graders, winning two out of three games to win the tournament. The final win was decided in overtime, when a three-point shot swished in with just two seconds remaining.
The team's head coach, Denny Harmison, 37, of Mink Shoals, played basketball himself in high school, but never imagined becoming a teacher and mentor of the sport; especially not to a group of young girls.
As a player for Heritage Christian Academy in Ravenswood, Harmison was one of the state's leading scorers for private schools players in mid-'90s. He averaged 30 points per game and had a game high of 50 points.
After Harmison's daughter Lauren found his old trophies and newspaper clips, she began expressing an interest in playing herself. To give his daughter an outlet for the sport, Harmison and assistant coaches Joey Starcher and Greg Shaffer gathered a core group of girls from the Ripley and Sissonville areas.
The staff found a practice space and began transforming the girls into players.