The Prior Lake boys basketball team cleared the first step in the Section 2AAAA playoffs.
The top-seeded and fifth-ranked Lakers had junior Dawson Garcia back on the court in a 68-51 home win over eighth-seeded Bloomington Jefferson in the quarterfinals March 6.
Garcia, who leads Prior Lake at 26.7 points per game, missed the last 12 regular season contests due to a stress fracture. He finished with 15 points against Jefferson, while senior Robert Jones led the team with 20.
Prior Lake (24-3 overall) will take on fourth-seeded Shakopee (22-5) in the semifinals at home March 12 at 5:30 p.m. The other semifinal game pits second-seeded Eden Prairie (18-9) against third-seeded Edina (19-8) right after the Lakers-Sabers tilt.
These games were originally set for March 9, but the potential for bad weather that day has pushed the games back.
The winners will play for the title March 15 at the site of the higher seed at 7 p.m.
Prior Lake beat Shakopee twice during the South Suburban Conference season, winning 74-63 at home back on Dec. 18 and earning a 72-70 road victory without Garcia Feb. 1.
Prior Lake has never played for a section crown as a Class 4A program. The program moved up to the bigger class at the start of the 2003-04 season. The Lakers have lost in the semifinals the last five years and six of the last eight.
With the win over Jefferson, Prior Lake tied the program's single-season wins mark. The Lakers won back-to-back Class 2A crowns in 1977 and 1978, going 24-4 and 24-1, respectively.
Meanwhile, Jefferson didn't make it easy on the Lakers. The Jaguars trailed by just four points (46-42) with six minutes to play. But Prior Lake responded with a 5-0 run to go up by nine and then dominated down the stretch.
Prior Lake led 32-23 at the break.
Junior Tyree Ihenacho and senior Jackyse Jacox were also in double figures for the Lakers with 14 and 10 points, respectively.