The Lee High boys basketball team fell in the region's opening round for the third time in four seasons Tuesday night, dropping a 46-34 decision to Magna Vista at Magna Vista High School.
"We knew they were going to get after us," Generals coach Steve Collier said, "and that's exactly what they did."
It was a contentious affair, one in which Magna Vista relied more on athleticism than offensive aptitude to survive.
Both the Warriors (17-4) and Generals struggled to adapt on the offensive end - but much of that can be attributed to the zone defenses employed by each team's coach.
Still, it was Lee (17-6) that had the most trouble, particularly taking care of the basketball.
The Generals never wavered but committed 18 turnovers - 14 coming in the first half. This after recording just nine in a win over Abingdon last week in the Highlands tournament.
"They were the best defensive team we've seen all year," Lee senior guard Bobby Stafford said. "We haven't seen pressure like that."
Much of the Generals' problem offensively stemmed from the quickness of Magna Vista's entire side. The Warriors employed a cagey 1-3-1 zone, both in the full- and half-court sets, for much of the game.
"The 1-3-1 has been pretty much our go-to defense the past season or two," Magna Vista coach Kevin Johnson said. "When it's working properly, we are able to force a lot of turnovers."
The look created plenty of chaos for the Generals, particularly Stafford. A week after scoring a game-high 20 points against Abingdon, he managed only nine. He had just two at halftime, both coming via the foul line.
"We wanted to keep a fresh person on him (Stafford) during the first half, and then go to the 1-3-1 in the second half," Johnson said. "We wanted to make him give up the ball and see if his teammates could make shots. Fortunately for us tonight, their shots weren't going in."
With Stafford bottled up, Lee failed to make any real impact offensively. Neither did Magna Vista, for that matter - thanks to Lee's ever-improving 2-3 zone - but it really didn't matter.
The Warriors, active on the offensive glass and in transition, created enough easy baskets to safely book their place in the regional semifinals Thursday at Graham Middle School.
Things weren't so safe midway through the fourth period, though.
The Generals, building off a solid close to the third quarter, eventually trimmed Magna Vista's advantage to four points, 33-29, with 5:15 remaining. It appeared Lee had snatched the momentum, but the Warriors responded with six unanswered points and were never threatened again.
"By that time, they had gone back to the 1-3-1," Collier said. "Once they went to that, we didn't get many good shots.
"Defensively, I thought we did a fine job," he added. "The turnovers and our shot selection did us in. You've got to make shots."
Forward Jonathan Williams recorded a pair of steals during the Warriors' run, the last capped by his two-handed dunk in transition.
"Jonathan made a number of plays for us," Johnson said. "He's a senior, he's been here before and he was able to get us going."
Williams finished with a game-high 16 points for Vista, while Dennis Gravely added 13.
Only Chad Skaggs reached double figures for Lee, notching 11.
"We just missed a lot of open shots," Stafford said. "It's frustrating. "It's disappointing, but we've had a good run."