Kate VanHelden

Senior Kate VanHelden launches a three-pointer in front of her bench in Prior Lake’s 53-51 home win over Burnsville Jan. 16.

The Prior Lake girls basketball team seems to be sharing the ball under first-year coach Demondi Johnson.

The Lakers are 6-3 at the halfway point of the South Suburban Conference season with not one player averaging in double figures and eight players averaging between 5.5 and 9.5 points.

Prior Lake had three players in double figures in a 62-40 home win over Lakeville North Feb. 16. Senior Kate Traschel led the way with 13 points, while senior Tatum Brostrom scored 12 and senior Kate VanHelden finished with 11.

When Johnson took over the program last summer, he said that he wanted to “get out and run and let my players play to their strengths” on the offensive end.

But he added that he was “a defensive-minded coach and I really like to generate offense with my defense.”

In the Lakers’ six wins, they have held their opponents to an average of 40 points. Only two teams have scored 60 or more points on Prior Lake.

The first team was No. 2-ranked Farmington in a 69-51 home win back on Feb. 2. The Lakers also fell 60-55 at Burnsville Feb. 11.

Prior Lake’s other loss was 52-41 to Rosemout in the season opener back on Jan. 14.

The Lakers’ other five wins are over Eastview (55-37), Eagan (68-43), Lakeville South (65-36), Apple Valley (46-33) and Burnsville (53-51).

Trachsel leads the Lakers in scoring at the halfway points of the SSC season at 9.4 points per game. She’s been in double figures four times, including a season-high 16 points against Eastview.

Brostrum is averaging 8.4 points per game with a season-best of 23 points against Eagan.

Senior Emily Johnson scored a career-high 16 points in the win over Lakeville South, while ninth-grader Anna VanHelden had 13 points. Senior Chanel Kallevig scored 13 against Apple Valley.

Sophomore Lauren Pawlyshyn is third on the team in scoring at 7.4 points, while senior Emily Kulstad is fourth (6.6).

The second half of the SSC season runs through March 13 when the Lakers end the regular season at Lakeville North March 12.

The Section 2AAAA tournament will follow the next week. The Minnesota State High School League’s Board of Directors met Feb. 4 and approved state competitions for all winter sports.

Girls basketball has tentatively set state quarterfinal play for all four classes for March 30-31 at the Target Center. Semifinal action is April 6-8 and the finals are April 9-10.

Section 2AAAA is pretty strong with two teams ranked in the top 10 — No. 3 Chaska and No. 6 Minnetonka.

Prior Lake won the Section 2AAAA title in 2018, the program’s first state berth in Class 4A. The Lakers joined the top class at the start of the 2003-04 season. Prior Lake has made three state appearances in Class 3A; 1999, 2002 and 2003.

Last season, the Lakers lost in the section quarterfinals to Minnetonka and in 2019 the team fell in the semifinals to Eden Prairie.

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