Behind a top-level performance from the shortest player on the floor, and with the help of some high-flying highlight-reel plays from a player appropriately named Ariel, Eden Prairie topped host Prior Lake 62-45 in the Class 4A, Section 2 boys' basketball championship game.
The pregame focus Friday centered on Prior Lake's twin towers — Dawson Garcia and Robert Jones — but the game belonged to Eden Prairie junior guard Drake Dobbs. The shortest player on the court at 6 feet, Dobbs rose above the others to score a game-high 29 points. He had 11 consecutive points early in the second half, turning Eden Prairie's two-point deficit into a nine-point advantage.
"Drake, for the last month, has been amazing," Eden Prairie coach David Flom said. "He's always had the ability. But now he has the understanding of when to go, when not to, be in complete control."
Helping Dobbs' offensive show was the Eden Prairie energy. The Eagles repeatedly beat the Lakers to loose balls and rebounds, earning second and third chances frequently. Ariel Bland, a 6-6 leaper, was the frequent benefactor, getting 18 points on an array of dizzying dunks. "He's just gotten better and better and better every game," Flom said.
Dobbs, verbally committed to Liberty University, was aware that he had done something special before a raucous, standing-room, crowd of 2,400 at Prior Lake High School.
"That was probably my favorite game I've ever played in," he said. "The atmosphere was unbelievable. "
Flom said the game went exactly as he'd hoped.
"Our record says nine losses," he said, "but we play all the best teams we can and it prepares us for this moment."