The Prior Lake boys basketball team finished strong to avoid an upset in the Section 2AAAA quarterfinals March 7.
The second-seeded Lakers finished the contest on a 12-5 run for a 64-57 home win over seventh-seeded Bloomington Jefferson. Sophomore Dawson Garcia led Prior Lake with 23 points.
Prior Lake (22-5) will take on third-seeded Edina (18-9) March 10 in the semifinals at Jefferson High School at 2 p.m. The Lakers beat Edina 52-50 at home back on Feb. 15.
Top-seeded Eden Prairie (20-7) is facing fourth-seeded Chaska (20-7) in the other semifinal game at noon. The winners will meet in the title game March 16 at the site of the higher seed at 7 p.m. Chaska is the defending champion.
The Lakers are in the section semifinals for the fifth time in the last season years, but the team is still seeking its first finals appearance since becoming a Class 4A program at the start of the 2003-04 campaign.
Prior Lake won back-to-back Class AA state championships in 1977 and 1978 and was also a state participant in 1976.
In the win over Jefferson, the Lakers led 23-20 at the break and clung to a 39-38 lead with just over eight minutes to play. The Jaguars used a 6-0 run to go up 44-39, but Prior Lake followed with a 13-2 spurt to grab a 52-46 advantage.
However, Jefferson responded with back-to-back threes to tied the game at 52-52 with three minutes to play, before the Lakers closed the game on the decisive run.
Junior Sam Nissen finished with 16 points for Prior Lake, while junior Robert Jones scored 13. Junior Jackyse Jacox chipped in five points, while senior Jack Grieves scored four and senior Patrick Bernick had three.
This year's Class 4A state tournament is March 21-24 at the Target Center in Minneapolis. Third-ranked Apple Valley is the defending champion, winning its third title last winter in the last five seasons.
Two of the Lakers' five losses this season are to Apple Valley, along with two losses to No. 4 Lakeville North. The team's other defeat was to Minnetonka way back on Dec. 16. The fifth-seeded Skippers lost 63-56 to Chaska in the Section 2AAAA quarterfinals.