Walk into the gym during the Moffat Basketball Association's 3-on-3 league play, and it's easy to see it isn't powder puff.
Tuesday night at the Boys & Girls Club, seventh- and eighth-grade girls were screening, elbowing and driving to the basket at full force.
"We want this time to be somewhat intense," MBA director Steve Maneotis said. "The girls can have fun, but this is a time to get better."
The MBA is in its first year, and the 40 girls who signed up for the 3-on-3 league are the guinea pigs.
"We're trying this out on these girls," Maneotis said. "They are our lab rats, and we like what we see."
The league is trying out a format that includes 20-minute games without a break.
The 20-minute games are new to the girls. In middle school they get breaks at the quarters and halftime.
"It wears you out," eighth-grader Alisha Camp said. "But it's good because it gives us a lot of extra playing time."
In between games, Maneotis and Jeff Knoche run screen and passing drills for the teams.
After the night was over, several girls stayed to work on their shots.
"That's what this is all about," Maneotis said, watching the girls shoot. "We're hoping to get these girls excited about the sport."
The athletes were at least excited about the upcoming middle school basketball season.
"We're definitely getting in shape for the season," Arylle Rademacher said. "It can be more intense than practice."
Maneotis and Knoche chose the 3-on-3 format to give the girls more exposure.
"In 5-on-5, players can get left out or hide," Knoche said. "There's not that option in 3-on-3. It also gives the girls an opportunity to learn all aspects of basketball in a game situation."
Maneotis encouraged parents to remind their hoopsters to square up once they catch the ball.
"If they don't do it, you have parents have to run lines with the girls, too," he joked.
Eleven girls from Hayden are in the league. Seventh-grader Taylor Young said she liked the way the league was going.
"It's been good for us as a team," she said. "We have tough competition every night, and it makes us better."
The Denver Nuggets supplied Maneotis with more than 30 basketballs for the MBA.
"The Nuggets are really getting behind our program," he said. "They're helping us fund jerseys, and we've been talking about having coaches or players come up for a clinic."
The girls' season will continue on Tuesdays and Thursdays into mid-December.
After Christmas break, it will be the boys' turn.
"We hope to expand this into a year-long program," Knoche said.
The cost for the league is $20, half of which goes toward a membership to the Boys & Girls Club.
Financial aid is available for those who need it.