That's how Vinny Zollo said he felt after taking off his Clark County uniform for the last time after the Cardinals lost to Eastern in the Sweet Sixteen on Friday afternoon in Rupp Arena.
Zollo's story is well known across the state.
He committed to then-UK coach Billy Gillispie as a high school freshman in Greenfield, Ohio. Zollo and his family moved to Clark County the summer before his sophomore year. Gillispie was fired the following March, John Calipari took over, and Zollo was left hanging as a recruit.
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Zollo eventually got the message that he didn't fit in Calipari's plans, and wound up signing instead with WKU.
Zollo said Friday there was no reason to second-guess the path he took.
"It led me here, led my family to a better place, led me to understand Kentucky basketball and how it's a very special thing," Zollo said, his voice choked with emotion.
Zollo and his fellow Clark County seniors — Robbie Stenzel, Corey Rogers, Jaylen Daniel and Travis Purvis — fashioned a 30-6 record and state quarterfinal finish in a season of great expectations.
"This is a great group of guys," Zollo said. "We'll go out with our heads up. We'll definitely look back on this and appreciate all we accomplished."
After South Laurel won the Sweet Sixteen in 2005, Cardinals Coach Steve Wright rang up his former assistant Shawn Thacker hours later in the middle of the night.
"He woke me up at 3 a.m. and said, 'Can you believe we did it!?' " Thacker recalled.
Thacker got a thrill out of watching South Laurel win it because he coached Ty Proffitt and several other Cardinals in AAU, prepping them for their championship run.
Thacker is making his own "Can you believe it?" memories this week as Rowan County's coach. The Vikings won their first-ever state tournament game Thursday by beating Daviess County.
After the victory, Thacker said he figured his mentor, Wright, was "pretty happy in the building today."
Thacker credits Wright for giving him the opportunity to learn the hoops trade. Thacker went on to coach Somerset to eight All "A" region titles, and now he's got Rowan County in the Sweet Sixteen.
The real McCoy
Pike County Central senior Hobo McCoy, who led the state in scoring with a 31.5 average, was in Rupp Arena Friday to accept the 15th Region player of the year award.
The most often asked question about McCoy, whose real first name is Freddy, is how he got his nickname.
"My aunt gave it to me when I was little. She'd pack me on her shoulder like a hobo pack," he explained.
Hobo, who signed to play college ball at Pikeville, hit 96 of 236 three-pointers (41 percent).
Ashland's 1961 Sweet Sixteen champions will hold a public reception Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Hyatt Regency Ballroom.
Bob Wright, who coached Ashland to the state title 50 years ago, will be there, along with several players, including Larry Conley.
The '61 Tomcats, who finished with a 36-1 record, are still regarded as one of the greatest state championship teams in Kentucky history.
Among the "living legends" honored between quarters of Friday's games were the 1954 champions from Inez. Four players were on hand, along with friends, relatives and even some cheerleaders.
The players present were Carroll Justice, Dale Moore, Clifton Perry and Omar Fannin.
"When a country boy or a mountain boy comes to Lexington, that was a big deal back then," said Justice, who now lives in Huntington, W.Va. "It still probably is. It was just a great experience."
The Indians topped Newport 63-55 in the finals, played in Memorial Coliseum. The only 15th Region team to win it all since then was Paintsville in 1996.
"The only thing I can recall on the last game," said Perry, who lives in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, "Herbie Triplett scored 25 points."
Moore, who scored four points in the finals, went on to lead the Ohio Valley Conference in scoring for two seasons with Eastern Kentucky. He lives in Lancaster and is able to attend some of the University of Kentucky women's games in the Coliseum.
"I still go in Memorial and get chills," he said. "A great place to play ball."
Inez's 1941 title team also was recognized.