COLUMBUS - The Libbey Cowboys and coach Leroy Bates were disappointed by the stunning finish of yesterday's 70-69 loss to Chillicothe in the D-II state final.
Afterward, they attempted to put the what-ifs and the heartbreak into words.
"I feel sorry for the guys in 2008 because of all the time and effort that they put into it," Bates said of Libbey's unfortunate fate from the 1960s and now. "We weren't really playing for past teams, even though we realized the burden of the fact that they were unsuccessful too.
"We knew that if we could have pulled it off today, they would have been very proud of us. That would have brought history back to Libbey High School in a positive light. We kind of hate that this situation is what it is, but in any game somebody's going to win and somebody's going to lose. It's just a fact of life."
As much as he did, Cowboy star William Buford wishes he had done more.
"It's real devastating because we've been talking about winning this state championship all four years that we've been together. It's devastating that we made it all the way and then didn't win it.
"I felt like I could've done way better, more than what I did, to win the game. I would've played more aggressive defense and grabbed way more rebounds. But it is what it is, and we lost the game."
Libbey guard Lance Jones also did some second-guessing.
"After the two free throws, we were going to win and thinking we already won it, and we just didn't put our all into it," Jones said. "The end result was we lost.
"I let Hitchens [Anthony, Chillicothe guard] get around me and I didn't get back on defense," Jones said. "That's how they got the wide-open layup. I was in the wrong position. We really should have been back on defense and let one man pressure him. That way they'd have had to throw up something."
Julius Wells was more to the point.
"It just was a heartbreaker. One word describes it all. We worked four years for this, and it was gone in five seconds."