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PL Cagers Open 2024 With A Pair Of SSC Victories

By Tom Schardin, 01/14/24, 1:45PM CST


The Prior Lake boys basketball team has had its ups and downs so far this season, but that was to be expected with a young roster.

However, the Lakers have shown they can compete with good teams, opening the New Year with a pair of South Suburban Conference wins — 64-56 at Rosemount Jan. 5 and 78-67 at home over Burnsville Jan. 10.

Prior Lake (5-6 overall, 3-1 in the SSC) closed out 2023 losing two games in the Granite City Classic at St. Cloud State University Dec. 29-30. The Lakers fell 81-70 to Champlin Park and 82-75 to Brainerd.

With the playoffs a couple months away, the goal is pretty straightforward for Prior Lake.

“Our goal is get better every day in practice and to continue to push each other,” Coach Jon Miller said.

Section 2AAAA is strong with No. 3 Minnetonka (7-1) and No. 6 Shakopee (8-2) heading the seven-team field, along with No. 10 Waconia (8-2), Eden Prairie (6-7), Chanhassen (4-5) and Chaska (4-7).

The Lakers are 2-2 against the section with wins over Chaska and Chanhassen and losses to both Eden Prairie and Minnetonka. Prior Lake still has two conference games with Shakopee to play, at home Jan. 18 and on the road Feb. 20, and will play Waconia at home Feb. 3.

In the win over Burnsville, junior Norbu Jenpa led the Lakers with 19 points, while ninth grader Kobby Sam-Brew scored 12 and junior Alex Hulskotter scored 10.

Junior Cade Wozney scored nine points, while senior Tyler Legg and juniors Brayden Thompson and Luke Loehlein each scored eight.

Against Rosemount, Prior Lake had 10 players in scoring column with Jenpa leading the way with 12 points. Wozney scored 11, while Loehlein scored 10.

Hulskotter scored eight points, while Sam-Brew and Legg both had six and Thompson finished with four.

At the Granite City Classic, Wozney led the Lakers with 15 points in the loss to Champlin Park, while Sam-Brew and Loehlein both scored 12.

Jenpa had 24 points in the setback to Brainerd, while sophomore Zach Christofferson scored 11 and Sam-Brew, Loehlein and Wozney all had eight points and ninth grader Trey Theis scored seven.

Section 2AAAA quarterfinal play starts March 6, followed by the semifinals March 9 and the title game March 14. Minnetonka is the defending champion.

Prior Lake went 1-1 in the playoffs last year, upsetting Eden Prairie 69-64 in the first round, before falling 84-66 to Minnetonka in the semifinals.

The Class 4A state tournament is set for March 21-25 at the Target Center in Minneapolis. Top-ranked Wayzata is the defending champion.

Prior Lake is still looking for its first state berth as a Class 4A program. The team joined the top class at the start of the 2003-04 school year.

The Lakers were a Class 3A program from 1997 to 2003 when the Minnesota State High School League went to four classes. Prior Lake won back-to-back state championships in 1977 and 1978 in Class 2A when there were only two classes in the state.