The bittersweet taste was written on Donielle Griggs' face.
One of the leaders of the 2008-09 Ventura College women's basketball team, which won its first 34 games before falling in the Final Four to Pasadena City, Griggs, now a player at Cal Lutheran, was of course on hand to root for her former teammates in Sunday's state championship game.
She was on the court taking photographs during the net-cutting ceremony.
"It was amazing," said Griggs, who had spoken to former point guard Michelle Santizo on the phone. Santizo and Julie Heurung followed the game during their end-of-season banquet at Cal State Monterey Bay.
But Sunday's experience as a fan had also reminded Griggs of what might have been.
"It brought back memories," said Griggs. "We were one step away."
Of course, several Pirates mentioned that the previous year's experience was a big contributing factor on this year's state championship run.
Members of the coaching staff harkened back to the successful recruiting of Royal High guard Jessi Selleh as the key event that enabled a program which lost three straight playoff games from 2004 to 2006 to return to its former glory.
Selleh, now a student at UCLA, having turned down the opportunity to play at Cornell because of financial considerations, was instrumental in the recruiting of fellow Royal High teammates Erika Ward and Kris King.
"I didn't know anything about Ventura College until Jessi Selleh told me about it," said Ward Sunday. "I wasn't even thinking about going here."