Did the Prior Lake boys basketball team get the wake-up call it needed?
Lakers Coach Jon Miller said the 80-63 loss at No. 4-ranked Shakopee Jan. 7 was a "turning point for our team."
Tenth-ranked Prior Lake followed with a 71-64 win at Lakeville South Jan. 10 and a 91-66 home victory over Farmington Jan. 14 in a pair of South Suburban Conference games.
"The team really started to focus more of the details in practice, and the Lakeville South game demonstrated that," Miller said.
Prior Lake (7-4 overall, 4-1 in the SSC) was supposed to be home to Eagan Jan. 17 in SSC play and home to New Prague Jan. 18, but weather has postponed both contests.
Prior Lake is at No. 2 Eastview Jan. 21 and home to Burnsville Jan. 24 in league contests at 7 p.m.
Section 2AAAA is strong. Three teams are ranked: No. 1 Eden Prairie, No. 8 Chaska and Shakopee.
The Lakers also lost to Eden Prairie back on Dec. 7, falling 78-58 in the Breakdown Tip Off Classic. The Eagles beat Prior Lake 62-45 in the section title game last year.
"To get ready for the playoffs, we need to become lockdown defenders on the perimeter and more effective on the defensive glass," Miller said. "We also need to be more disciplined on offense by controlling the number of turnovers and making the extra pass to open teammates.
"We have played much better on the offensive end the last couple of games, but we need to continue to work on our execution in the half court," Miller added. "During the section tournament, teams don't fast break as much, and point totals tend to be below season averages."
In the win over Lakeville South, senior Dawson Garcia scored in the final 10 seconds to force overtime. The Cougars missed the front end of a 1-and-1 to potentially go up 4 points, before Garcia's driving layup tied the contest.
Garcia finished with 28 points. senior Tyree Ihenacho scored 17, and sophomore Malcolm Jones had 13. Junior Tommy Mestnik chipped in 9.
"Tyree had his best game of the year, and it was great to see the explosion going to the rim," Miller said.
In beating Farmington, the Lakers led 47-34 at the break. Garcia finished with 26 points, while senior Dylan Bair had a career-high 25.
Ihenacho added 15 points, while junior Kyle McCullough scored 10.