Dawson Garcia nonchalantly buries a three-pointer from the right wing with his initial shot of the game. He quickly plays to the Prior Lake student section with a bow-and-arrow pose.
Robert Jones follows up a missed shot with a thunderous dunk later in the half. He quickly sprints back down the court to get into defensive position, his specialty.
Carson Schoeller watches intently from the bench and applauds. In the second half, he runs a perfectly executed pick-and-roll and finishes with an easy layup.
Going up against the Lakers’ boys’ basketball team this season means taking on a pair of 6-10 Division I prospects in Garcia and Jones while the 6-9 Schoeller tries to play his way into regular minutes.
“Having three players with that kind of size is a nice problem to have,” Prior Lake coach Bob Schweim said.
Fortunately for the Lakers but not so much for their opponents, and it’s a problem that won’t go away after this season, either.
Jones and Schoeller are juniors while Garcia is only a sophomore.
“Combine these three and you have the best big man in the state,” Schweim said. “They are very good, but all have things to work on, as every player does.”
The flamboyant Garcia has a feathery touch from the perimeter. The stretch forward is capable of taking an opponent off the dribble or posting him up on the low block, too. He is averaging 21 points — with four 30-point games — 11 rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots per game.
“I wish I had his ballhandling and confidence,” Jones said. “Dawson has so much confidence. He walks that fine line between confidence and cockiness.”
Jones is just the opposite, laid back and values the classroom over the court. He takes great pride in shutting down his opponents and swatting away shots. He is averaging 14 points per game, with a season-high 25 against Rosemount, while pulling down 10 rebounds and blocking three shots.
“He is a great shot blocker,” Garcia said. “I need to follow his lead on that and playing defense.”
Schoeller is trying to absorb everything from the Lakers’ 1-2 punch.
Garcia and Jones are both shooting over 50 percent from the field and over 40 percent from beyond the three-point arc.
“They are both very talented players,” Schoeller said. “It’s a great experience for me to learn from them. I know my time will come.”
One major item the trio is trying to change within the program is its image.
Their goal is to return the program to being a perennial basketball power like it was in the late 1970s.
After reaching the state tournament for the first time in 1976, the Lakers were the Class 2A champions in 1977 and 1978. They haven’t reached the state tournament since.
This year the Lakers are on the verge of their first 20-victory season since 2005-06. They are 17-3.
“We’re hoping to change the Prior Lake image, and I think we’re headed in the right direction,” Garcia said. “We have to keep working hard.”
Said Jones, “We’re not a top-10 team in the state quite yet.”
Two of their three setbacks have come at the hands of Class 4A, No. 3 Lakeville North and defending state champion and No. 5 Apple Valley in back-to-back South Suburban Conference games in the middle of January.
“We need to beat those kind of teams to get there,” Jones said.