Longmont -- The saying on the Moffat County High School girls basketball team sweatshirt reads, "The fundamentals of the game never change, just the name of the players that use them."
The saying never rang more true for the five seniors who played their last games for MCHS Tuesday night in a 63-50 loss to Longmont.
It is now their turn to make room for five new names.
Kate Schafer may have summed it up best for her classmates after the game.
"Basketball has been our lives forever," she said. "What do we do without it?"
"My life has revolved around basketball for the past 18 years," said Laurel Mortensen, who grew up around the sport with her dad as a coach.
"I don't know what I'm going to do in the spring because I used to going to open gym then," said Amanda Tomlinson. "I'll probably still go just so I can keep playing."
The loss hadn't quite set in for the soon-to-be graduates at dinner after their final game.
"It's still not real," Schafer said.
What stings for Mortensen is the early exit from post season relative to last season.
"What makes it harder is that we made it to state last year and now it's over in the first round of regionals," she said. "It just feels like it's over way too early."
Although the Bulldogs admitted they lost to a good team, it doesn't stop the reality of a final loss.
"We might have felt good about our effort if it was just a regular season game," Mortensen said. "But just a good effort isn't good enough because our season is over."
While the swollen and red eyes were evident after the girls emerged from the locker room, the loss to Longmont doesn't hurt as bad as the defeat at the hands of Steamboat Springs the week before.
"The loss to Steamboat hurt the most," Schafer said.
"Not only because they were our rivals, but if we would have won we would be at home with a game tonight and we could have made it to state," Tomlinson added.
Yet only one team will have seniors who win their final basketball game in Class 4A -- the state champions.
"I guess all but one team has to lose," Schafer said.
The accomplishments of the team, including an undefeated
regular season in the Western
Slope Conference and a final record of 18-5, is what coach Craig Mortensen hoped his seniors would remember.
"I'm proud of how far this team came this year," he said. "They have accomplished a lot and I hope that's what they'll remember."