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Prior Lake head coach Dan Rubischko, left, and guard Jon Sobaski, center, confer during the second half of the basketball game between Prior Lake and Apple Valley at Prior Lake High School, Friday, January 24, 2014. [BEN BREWER ‚Ä¢ Specia
Jon Sobaski is the face of the Prior Lake boys’ basketball program. He has been that the past four years, and has led a program resurgence.
The senior point guard has received plenty of individual accolades, recently becoming the program’s career scoring leader. Sobaski now would like nothing better than to reach one last elusive team goal — an appearance in the state tournament.
“That would be the cherry on top of my four-year career,” Sobaski said. The Lakers are 11-7 heading into the final four weeks of the regular season, after back-to-back setbacks at the hands of state powers Lakeville North and Apple Valley.
Prior Lake has not reached the state tournament since it successfully defended its Class 2A state championship in 1978. That capped a three-year run, the Lakers’ only trips to the state tournament.
“It’s one remaining goal, and I think we can achieve it,” Sobaski said. “I think our section [Class 4A, Section 2] is up for grabs.”
The Lakers are on the verge of their third consecutive winning season with Sobaski running the show. They were 3-3 through their first six games in his freshman season when Sobaski broke his right wrist, which is his shooting hand. They went on to finish 6-21 that year.
“I hated sitting out, and watching,” Sobaski said. “I wanted to play.”
Prior Lake is at its best with Sobaski on the court. He scored 17 points, including 14 in the second half, as the Lakers overcame a five-point deficit at halftime to beat Burnsville 74-56 on Jan. 16.
His two free throws with 3 minutes, 24 seconds remaining vaulted him to the top spot on the program’s all-time scoring list. He passed Tim Hanson’s mark of 1,238 career points set in 1984.
“If it wasn’t going to be one of my own kids [breaking the record], I wanted to be Jon,” said Hanson, a former Gopher who is an assistant coach with the Lakers.
“He works hard, and is very deserving,” Hanson said. “Jon is a great kid and has a bright future.”
Hanson would know. Before becoming an assistant coach four years ago, he served as director of the traveling program. He has witnessed first hand Sobaski’s development since fifth grade.
“In fifth grade you could tell he was going to be good,” said Hanson, who was named Mr. Basketball in 1984. “He’s quick, athletic and has unbelievable vision.”
Sobaski, a North Dakota State recruit, has led the Lakers in scoring and assists in each of the past three seasons. He is averaging a career-best 18 points per game this year.
“I used to want to score,” Sobaski said. “Now, I focus more on my passing. If I get the whole team involved, we seem to play better.”
Sobaski hopes that pattern will carry-over come section tournament time. A trip to Minneapolis in March would help both Hanson and Sobaski accomplish their final goal.
“I had two goals, make the state tournament and play for the Gophers,” Hanson said. “I accomplished one of them. I would be just as happy to accomplish the other [with Jon] as an assistant coach.”
Ron Haggstrom • 612-673-4498