Malcolm Jones

Prior Lake senior Malcolm Jones will be one to watch for the Lakers this winter. The 6-foot-10 forward averaged 20.2 points, 11.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocks last season.

The Prior Lake boys basketball team hopes to be a factor in the playoffs come March.

The Lakers return some talent from last year’s team that struggled to a 4-15 overall record (4-14 in the South Suburban Conference). The COVID-19 pandemic limited the season to just league games and Prior Lake lost in the first round of Section 2AAAA play.

Senior Malcolm Jones is back for Prior Lake in the front court. The 6-foot-8 forward averaged 20.2 points per game last season, along with 11.2 rebounds and 1.2 block shots.

Senior guard Kellan Miller and senior forward Kyle Haas also return. Miller was third on the team in scoring last winter at 8.3 points per game, while Haas averaged 4.9.

“These three players have the most varsity experience and will be asked to lead the team on both ends of the floor," Coach Jon Miller said. “We have a very deep group of players who will be competing for varsity playing time this season.”

It’s never easy to rebuild in the deep and talented SSC and Section 2AAAA is no picnic either. The Lakers have a tough schedule, opening the season playing five section foes in their first six games.

Prior Lake’s home opener is set for Dec. 7 against Wayzata, the defending Class 4A state champion. The Trojans won the Section 6AAAA title last year.

Shakopee is the defending Section 2AAAA champion, losing to Wayzata in the state semifinals. Prior Lake will see the Sabers in their second SSC game Jan. 4.

Other teams in the Section 2AAAA field include Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Chaska, Chanhassen, Edina and newcomer Waconia, who moved up a class after competing in Section 6AAA last winter.

“Our first goal is always to improve each day in practice and be physically and mentally ready for sections,” Miller said. “We want to compete for a SSC championship and win the section.

“We play a difficult schedule and the SSC is deep and talented again this season, so we will be tested every game,” Miller added.

The Lakers will need to rely on their defense to be playoff contenders, along with finding additional scorers alongside Brown.

“We will be long and athletic,” Miller said. “We should be a tough defensive team, which will lead to our ability to run the break and be aggressive on the offensive glass.”

Prior Lake has lost to Eden Prairie in the playoffs the last three years. In 2019, the Eagles beat the Lakers in the Section 2AAAA title game.

In 2020, Prior Lake fell to Eden Prairie in the section semifinals and lost 71-45 to the Eagles in the quarterfinals last year.

Meanwhile, Eastview is the defending SSC champion, winning the league with a 16-2 mark last season. Shakopee was second (13-5), followed by Lakeville North and Lakeville South (12-6).

Section 2AAAA quarterfinal play starts March 9 with the semifinals set for March 12. The title game will be March 18, and the higher seed is home throughout the postseason.

This year’s Class 4A state tournament is scheduled for March 21-26 with the site still to be determined.

Tom Schardin covers sports for Savage and Prior Lake. He is dependable, sarcastic and always joking around. Tom enjoys running and swimming and is often busy coaching his two kids' sports teams.