Winning the last five minutes of each half is usually a good recipe for victory on the hardwood.
But in the Section 2AAAA semifinals March 10, it seemed to be the other way around for the Prior Lake boys basketball team.
Third-seeded Edina handily won the first five minutes of the game and the first five minutes of the second half en route to a 70-62 win over the second-seeded Lakers at Bloomington Jefferson High School.
Edina opened the game strong, leading 17-9, which led to a 30-21 advantage at the break. The Hornets opened the second half on a 9-0 run to lead 39-21.
Prior Lake was forced to play catchup all game long and it became more difficult when sophomore Dawson Garcia picked up his fourth foul with just under 10 minutes to play.
Edina led 51-33 with just under nine minutes remaining. The Lakers fought back using a 18-6 run to cut the deficit to 57-51 with 2:55 to go, but that's as close as Prior Lake would get.
Garcia, Prior Lake's leading scorer, fouled out with 2:12 to go with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
When Garcia was on the bench with four fouls, juniors Robert Jones and Sam Nissen led the Lakers' comeback. Both finished with 13 points. Nissen hit three threes in the second half. Jones added 10 rebounds and six blocks to go along with his strong offensive game.
But Edina sophomore center Jacob Hutson held his own in the paint against both the 6-foot-10 Jones and Garcia with 19 points (9 of 9 from the charity stripe). The Hornets' Jack Middleton led all scores with 23 points, many on three-pointers.
But it was play of senior guard Anders Nelson that sparked Edina to victory. He had 13 points and five assists, but he handled the Lakers' pressure all game, ran the offense with patience and poise and was in control of the pace of the game from pretty much start to finish.
Edina also got some revenge on the Lakers. Prior Lake beat the Hornets 52-50 at home in the regular season back on Feb. 15.
Senior Brandon Collins had eight points for the Lakers in the rematch, while senior Jack Greives scored five points.
Prior Lake finished the season with a 22-6 overall mark (14-4 in the South Suburban Conference). The Lakers were in the section semifinals for the fifth time in the last seven 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.
The 22 wins for the Lakers are the most in season as a Class 4A program. Prior Lake finished 20-7 in the 2005-06 season and was 19-8 in the 2012-13 school year.
Four of the Lakers' six losses this winter were to No. 3-ranked Apple Valley and No. 4 Lakeville North, each twice, in SSC play. The other loss was to another Lake Conference team in Minnetonka in the season opener way back on Dec. 16.
To see more photos of the Lakers' game with Edina, click here.