With seconds remaining in a tie game, Robert E. Lee's focus was to deny Mesquite's Alex Cooper a chance to be the hero.
It worked for a little while until Cooper rebounded his own miss, stepped back and drained a back-breaking 3-pointer.
The trey was Cooper's fourth of the game and it silenced what had been a raucous REL Varsity Gymnasium crowd.
Lee still had a chance to send it to overtime, but Jack Calhoun's potential game-tying effort fell short in a 50-47 loss.
Lee drops to 18-8 and 5-3 in District 12-5A basketball. League-leading Mesquite (17-9) is now 7-1 in district play.
"It was really like a (heavyweight fight)," said Red Raiders coach Alan Johnston. "With a right uppercut, left uppercut; it was two good teams and the officials were letting them get after it.
"It was fun, but it was depressing to see these kids work that hard and come away with a loss."
Lee senior Taylor Tankersley led all players in the loss with 19 points, six rebounds and two blocks. Junior Caleb Johnston finished with nine points and four rebounds, while senior Tucker Boyd dished out six assists to go with his seven second-half points.
Cooper led Mesquite with 16 points while center Javante Wilson had 13 points and six rebounds.
"We did a good job shooting the ball tonight," said Mesquite coach Brian Curtis whose team made nine 3-pointers. "We really hadn't been shooting the ball that well the last few games, but tonight it went in for us, which was nice."
The Red Raiders trailed 28-17 at halftime.
After two quarters, Lee had nearly as many turnovers (11) as field-goal attempts (14).
The deficit could've been worse if Lee hadn't taken four charges to stop Mesquite scoring drives.
"Our last 10 possessions of the second quarter we got two shots. Jack made a three and (we) missed a layup, but other than that, we turned it over," coach Johnston said.
The Red Raiders began the second half with their 12th turnover.
It was the only one REL had in the final two quarters. Lee exploded for a 9-0 run to cut its deficit to two points.
Mesquite answered with a 3-pointer from Cooper and long-range jumper by Earon Johnson.
The Red Raiders continue to claw back in it with Tankersley scoring 10 points in the third period alone.
Every time Lee pulled within a basket, Mesquite hit another 3-pointer.
The Skeeters built a 45-38 lead in the fourth quarter on a basket from Wilson.
Again, Tankersley and Boyd would not be denied with both scoring to cut the deficit to three points.
A 3-pointer by Tankersley nearly caused the roof to come off the gym and cut Mesquite's lead to 47-45 with 1:51 remaining.
Then Boyd powered up for Lee to tie the game.
It still left enough time for Cooper to make one more 3-pointer.
"Boyd and Tankersley have been through these wars for three years now; they are our team captains and they showed up tonight," coach Johnston said. "We got better because of this game. I will say that."
The Red Raiders next go on the road to play Longview at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Lobo Coliseum.
Mesquite 50, Robert E. Lee 47
Mesquite 13 15 10 12 — 50
Robert E. Lee 9 8 17 13 — 47
MESQUITE — Dameon Gamblin, 0; Jamarquez Scott, 6; Earon Johnson, 2; Alex Cooper, 16; DeJohn Shealey, 3; Cadarius Voult, 5; Davion Keys, 0; Rashard Higgins, 5; Javante Wilson, 13. FG: 20-45. FT: 1-6.
ROBERT E. LEE — Jack Calhoun, 6; Austin Fleet, 0; Darriun Smallwood, 0; Taylor Tankersley, 19; Jared Williams, 2; Will Dougherty, 0; Caleb Johnston, 9; Tucker Boyd, 7; Justin DeSalvo, 4. FG: 21-35. FT: 2-6.
THREE POINT GOALS — MES (9-17): Scott (2), Cooper (4), Shealey, Voult, Higgins. REL (3-12): Calhoun (2), Tankersley.
RECORDS — Mesquite 17-9 (7-1); Robert E. Lee 18-8 (5-3).
NEXT UP — Lee at Longview, 7 p.m. Tuesday at Lobo Coliseum.
Lady Raiders comeback falls short at Mesquite
MESQUITE — Robert E. Lee fell behind 14-5 in the first period before clawing its way back to within a basket of Mesquite.
Only to watch the Lady Skeeters made their free throws down the stretch to deny Lee, 54-49, Friday at Mesquite High School.
Lee's Berjae Lewis and Ciara Johnson each scored 10 points in the loss while Mesquite's Briana Williams led all players with 24.
"They put a lot of ball pressure on us and we panicked at the beginning," said Lee coach Lloyd Mahaffey. "We were finally able to cut the lead down, but we missed (some) free throws, so that hurt."
Lee (13-17, 3-6) will be home against Longview at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Varsity Gym.
Mesquite 54, Robert E. Lee 49
Lee 5 17 7 19 — 49
Mesquite 14 11 11 16 — 54
LEE — Berjae Lewis, 10; Shreece Pryor, 4; Ciara Johnson, 10; Alex Thorne, 2; Tree Brooks, 6; DaJah Thompson, 6; Dominique Thomas, 4; Emem David, 7.
MESQUITE — J. Parker, 5; B. Williams, 24; B. Pearson, 5; B. Karo, 7; V. Latham, 6; M. Wilson, 6.
THREE POINT GOALS — L: None. M: Parker, Williams (2), Karo.
RECORDS — Mesquite 19-11 (8-2); Robert E. Lee 13-7 (3-6).
NEXT UP — Longview at Lee, 7 p.m. Tuesday at Varsity Gym.