DJ Doyen

Senior DJ Doyen gets to the basket in Prior Lake's 68-67 conference home victory over Shakopee Feb. 7.

It's that time for the Prior Lake boys basketball team.

With the Section 2AAAA playoffs nearing, the Lakers need to start peaking for the postseason if they want to be a factor.

Three straight South Suburban Conference wins will help, including a 68-67 home win over No. 4-ranked Shakopee Feb. 7. Prior Lake followed with a 82-69 victory at Farmington Feb. 11 and a 75-56 triumph versus Eagan Feb. 12.

Prior Lake (13-7 overall, 9-3 in the SSC) will be the No. 4 seed in Section 2AAAA when seeds come out Feb. 29. Top-ranked Eden Prairie (22-0) will be No. 1, followed by No. 9 Chaska (18-3) and Shakopee (17-4).

Edina (11-11), Minnetonka (10-10), Chanhassen (5-15) and Bloomington Jefferson (5-14) are also in the field.

"I thought we played our most complete defensive game of the year against Shakopee," Lakers coach Jon Miller said. "We needed to respond on the defensive end after the Rosemount (loss), where we had little energy on the defensive side of the floor.

"We also needed to have a better effort than the last time we played in Shakopee, where they shot 65 percent from the field," Miller added. "We had two good days of practice, and the guys were locked in on both ends of the floor."

Prior Lake is home to No. 10 Lakeville South Feb. 14 and to No. 2 Eastview Feb. 18 and then at Burnsville Feb. 21 in SSC games at 7 p.m.

Prior Lake's final two conference games to end the regular season are at Eagan Feb. 24 and home to Lakeville North Feb. 28.

In the win over Shakopee, senior Dawson Garcia led the Lakers with 36 points. Prior Lake nearly let a 5-point lead (68-63) slip away in the final 25 seconds.

Shakopee had the ball down 1 point with 10 seconds remaining, but missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer to win.

Junior Tommy Mestnik finished with 8 points for Prior Lake, followed by sophomore Malcolm Jones with 7, seniors DJ Doyen and Tyree Ihenacho with 5 and senior Nate Bach with 4.

"I thought we really shared the ball well against Shakopee," Miller said. "Dawson controlled the offensive end of the floor, and our guys cut very effectively when they doubled Dawson in the post.

"I thought we were in control of the game and played better than Shakopee the majority of the night," Miller added." We had a double-digit lead late in the second half and wish we could have been more disciplined to stretch the lead, but Shakopee shoots the ball so well from the outside. No lead is safe against them."

In beating Farmington, Garcia dominated finishing with 42 points. The Lakers outscored the Tigers 44-34 in the second half. 

Jones added 11 points, while Ihenacho scored 9 and Bach, Doyen and senior Dylan Bair each had 5.

Against Eagan, Garcia poured in 41 points to lead the way. Bair scored 15, while Mestnik had 7.

Section quarterfinal play starts March 4 with the semifinals March 7. The title game is March 13, and the higher seed plays at home in all three rounds. 

Eden Prairie is the defending champion, beating Prior Lake 62-45 in last year's final.

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.

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