Though a mix of injury, inexperience and some plain old bad luck equated to a winless first half of district play, Hahnville coach Rick Spring said his players have never stopped working or believing things would turn for the better. That turn may well be the team’s 76-71 victory over Destrehan last Friday night at R.K. Smith Middle School’s gymnasium, the Tigers gaining a measure of payback against their archrival after Destrehan bested Hahnville 72-48 in the first meeting between the teams on Jan. 3.
After that early defeat to DHS, Hahnville (9-19, 1-6) fell in a string of close games to fellow district competitors, staying in every contest but ultimately being unable to close out a win. Last Friday’s win over Destrehan, Spring said, represented the healthiest his team has been in weeks, and said his players were determined to prove the first meeting of the teams wasn’t representative of their ability.
“We felt we were a lot closer to Destrehan than that score indicated,” Spring said. “That was the first time we’ve really had everyone together. It’s been a battle of attrition for us in the first half of district, but we’re looking to charge to that finish line and finish strong both for our seniors and our younger guys.”
Senior point guard Raylon Hardy is the team’s leader both on and off the court, but a lingering groin injury has kept his availability inconsistent.
Spring said Hardy was ready to go last Friday, and it made a big difference as the veteran scored a game-high 18 and made a number of critical plays down the stretch.
“He had two light days of practice in order to get him physically ready to go, and he was,” Spring said. “Before the season, we felt we’d go as far as Raylon can bring us. It’s unfortunate he’s had to deal with the injury bug, but you can see the difference he makes. He’s always mentally ready, and when he’s physically up for it, we’re a different team.
“We want him making the decisions for us down the stretch. He’s that senior leader.”
Hardy called the Destrehan game “a signature win.”
“This was our rival, and we needed to get over the hump,” he said. “We needed to show we’re a better team than what we’ve been showing and that we could close a game out.”
Terrell Jefferson scored 17 and Dylan Lorio scored 16 in the game to round out top Hahnville scorers. Meanwhile, Lucky Maxon scored 21 to lead Destrehan (9-15, 2-5). Freddie Brown scored 15, while J.R. Blood and Jalvin Michael scored 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Hahnville returns to action Friday night at Terrebonne, after a week off of action — Hahnville had a district open date on Tuesday night. Spring believes his team can use last week’s win as a launching point to a strong finish.
“We know we can’t start from scratch,” Spring said, “but we want to finish on a positive note. I think from a confidence standpoint, if we’d been playing poorly or getting blown out, maybe you chalk a win like that up as a fluke. But we’ve been right there … we know the margin for error isn’t very high, but we’re heading into the second half of district play with some confidence.”