Moffat County High School basketball players, from left, Jorgiea Raftopoulos, Desirae Pearcey, Markie Workman, Angie Charchalis and Amy Dilldine were all smiles Tuesday in the high school gymnasium. The five senior starters were named to the Western Slope League all-conference team.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Moffat County High School basketball players, from left, Jorgiea Raftopoulos, Desirae Pearcey, Markie Workman, Angie Charchalis and Amy Dilldine were all smiles Tuesday in the high school gymnasium. The five senior starters were named to the Western Slope League all-conference team.

The MCHS fab five

Graduating girls basketball players leave behind a legacy

— The final buzzer was less than a minute from sounding in Saturday's 61-49 loss for the Moffat County High School basketball team.

It was the end of the Bulldogs run through the state 4A girls playoffs.

As time expired on the five seniors on Moffat County's roster, tears began to dampen the hardwood as they realized it would be the last game for them in Bulldog blue and white.

But, moments later, after the game had ended and a private meeting in the locker room with coach Craig Mortensen was finished, the five sprung back onto the court.

Smiles and hugs replaced sadness and tears.

Moffat County's season came up short in the Great 8, but the seniors said overall it was a success.

For the starting five - seniors Desirae Pearcey, Jorgiea Raftopoulos, Amy Dilldine, Angie Charchalis and Markie Workman - another deep run into the state playoffs had followed a fourth consecutive league championship.

On Tuesday, the five met once again inside the MCHS gymnasium - possibly the last time for them on the Bulldogs court.

They were together again, not in uniform this time, but dressed like typical teenage girls.

Giggles and laughter echoed through the vast expanse in the gym as they reminisced about the time they spent together.

They laughed about the "lock-in" last year.

They giggled about the bumpy bus rides.

And, they joked about the numerous nights spent in motels.

"They are just hilarious girls," Mortensen says. "Just really fun girls. They are true personalities."

He pauses a moment, lets out a smile and begins to think about each of the girls he says "are like daughters to me."

"Angie, she is just Ms. Personality," he says. "Always jabbering. Always yapping. Always stirring something up."

As for Workman, "She's kind of goofy, crazy. She's always laughing and having a good time."

"Jorgiea is probably the kindest person," Mortensen says. "You watch her play, and she's so intense and so aggressive, but take her out of the uniform and she's like Ms. Considerate. One of the most considerate (people) you will meet in your life.

"Amy, she's bubbly and bouncy," he says. "We call her Tigger Two. With the way she plays, she's kind of got that bouncy lope to her. And her radiant smile.

"Pixie (Pearcey) has always been Ms. Serious; just takes everything so literal, so serious."

The five have played together for "it seems like forever," Raftopoulos said.

And together, Ms. Personality, goofy-crazy, Ms. Considerate, Tigger Two and Ms. Serious made serious dents in the MCHS record book, including:

• Four consecutive Western Slope League championships, with four consecutive trips to the playoffs.

• A run to the Final Four and a date with the Great 8.

• Workman and Charchalis were named to the league's all-conference team for the past three years.

• Back-to-back league player-of-the-year awards for Charchalis.

• Each of the five starters was named to the 2007-08 league all-conference team.

• Charchalis and Workman moved past Brandi Telfer (class of '05) and Laurel Mortensen (class of '03) in total career points scored.

• Charchalis tallied 1,379 points in her four-year career, good for first all-time. She played in all 103 Bulldog varsity games in four years.

• Workman scored 1,192, placing the MCHS post player second all-time.

But, it wasn't just about points.

• Charchalis dished out 476 assists, also first all-time among MCHS girl hoopsters.

• Workman hauled in an MCHS record 591 rebounds.

• Together, the five seniors won 93 games overall in four years - a 90 percent clip.

• Before the five, MCHS lost three league games in 2003-04. After the five arrived, MCHS won 96 percent of its league games, losing just twice in 56 contests during their four-year stretch.

The seniors didn't win the all-so-elusive state championship, but to them, they don't think they could have enjoyed their four years any more.

They talk about being proud of what they have accomplished together, but they are most proud of just simply being together.

When asked about her best memories during her four-year stint, Workman didn't hesitate.

"Being with these girls," she said.

She began to laugh as she talked about the lock-in, a night the basketball team slept in the high school.

"Me, Angie and Jorgiea were the only people up," she said. "We went and jumped in the pool."

Raftopoulos dropped her jaw.

"Are you supposed to be saying that?" she said. "Coach is going to kill us.

"But it was fun."

Workman sarcastically added, "And I loved the bumpy rides in the back of the bus.

"It was awful."

Workman said she would trade the bus rides, but not the girls with her on them.

"I wouldn't want any other girls on my team for the four years I played," she said.

Dilldine was the last to join the five; the scholarship athlete in volleyball didn't start basketball until the seventh-grade.

But, she said she's had a great ride.

"Everything. Everything was fun," Dilldine said. "When it's us five, we are having fun."

Pearcey, or "Ms. Serious," was anything but when thinking of the times gone by.

"All the fun in the hotels," she laughed. "And the lock-in was great.

"We ate lots of junk food and played hide-and-seek. They jumped in the pool," she said to the sound of Raftopoulos shushing her.

"I'm going to definitely miss everybody," Pearcey said. "We've been together for so long."

She said playing along with the same teammates resulted in a knack for each knowing where the other would be.

"I wouldn't have to even look, and I know that Markie was right beside me," she said.

Charchalis believes her personal achievements were aided by her teammates.

"We all know each other and where we are going to be," she said. "We all brought out each other's good points."

Charchalis remembers putting headphones on during bus rides and singing so loud she couldn't hear herself.

"I've woke up a few angry Markies," she laughed.

"All the seniors I'm pretty tight with."

Charchalis was quick to remember a few bad memories as well.

"Losing wasn't good," she said. "Getting swatted into the Regis crowd (2006 Final Four) wasn't good. Into their 'Jesus loves you' sign actually."

As each takes her turn walking out of the MCHS gym after talking high school basketball, Mortensen can't help look on with a blank stare as his "daughters" walk off the hardwood floor.

"I first had them in kids camps, and they were just little bitty girls," he says. "You see them in the eighth grade, you kind of know what you've got coming, but you really don't know them. They've evolved as players. They've evolved as young ladies. They are ready to move on to the next level.

"They've been successful the whole time I've had them, and I know they will be very successful in whatever they choose."

John Vandelinder can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 211, or jvandelinder@craigdailypress.com

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