Just five days after winning the 4A state title, Mesa Ridge seniors Tiffani Jackson, Gabby Purnell and Sami Rudd traded in their determined glares for a night of laughter, smiles and jokes on the hardwood.
Yes, the three Mesa Ridge standouts enjoyed leading the 4A Colorado Springs Metro League All-Stars past the South Central League All-Stars 59-56 at Widefield High School, but the trio wanted to simply enjoy their final opportunity playing together Thursday.
"It wasn't about winning or losing," said Jackson, who finished with 10 points. "It was honestly about having fun and we made every situation as best we could. This for real is the last time we three were going to play together, so we might as well go out and have fun."
Rudd and Jackson brought a lighthearted approach to the game, laughing and joking around one last time as members of the Grizzlies.
Early in the second half, Rudd left her two Mesa Ridge teammates and the other all-stars laughing with her sense of humor during the second annual all-star game.
After being poked in the right eye underneath the basket inadvertently, the 6-foot-1 forward turned to the baseline referee looking for a foul.
"He said it wasn't a foul, and I asked him why and he said I will call it a foul if you buy me a cheeseburger," Rudd laughed.
Jackson, with a smile, chimed in, "I was like man, you don't need it."
It was just one of many moments over the years that have left Purnell shaking her head on the court at her two teammates.
"Oh, it's so fun playing with them," Purnell said. "They pump me up and always keep me smiling. I am glad it ended like this. I am going to miss it a lot."
Purnell helped the Metro League avenge last year's loss to the South Central League by scoring seven of her 14 points in the final 3:45. The guard beautifully sliced and diced her way past Pueblo County's Jaylene Ayala and Lindsey Sandavol and laid in a basket to give the Metro League a 54-53 lead with a little over three and a half minutes to go.
Like usual, the senior guard had on her serious face.
"Sometimes she is really serious and we know not to mess with her, and other times we try to joke around with her," Jackson said.
As they slowly packed up their belongings with the lights at Widefield High School flickering off, Jackson recalled the time she and Rudd attempted to play with a way-too-serious mentality.
"We tried that in eighth grade and when we played serious we got destroyed," Jackson said. "We got slaughtered. It was really bad."
"Yeah, we play better when we are not serious," Rudd said. "We try to have fun with it. This is supposed to be a fun game."