Tigers off to best start in years, eye strong tourney performance

Hahnville guard Kendall Pierre has helped propel his team to a 9-2 start this season.

While Hahnville’s football team captured the imaginations of Tigers’ supporters over their run to the Class 5A championship game, it seems something special is happening on the school’s basketball court as well these days.

Hahnville has opened the season 9-2, nearly equaling their total from last season when the Tigers went 10-22, and has generated some strong positive momentum in head coach Yussef Jasmine’s first season with the team.

The Tigers have earned two victories over John Curtis and two victories over Brother Martin among its notable wins this season. Another key victory came in tournament play over East St. John, Jasmine’s former team that he led to much success in his decade-long tenure at the school.

“I think the chemistry our team has together has been a real key,” Jasmine said. “There’s a lot of love around the program and it’s very exciting right now. You can accomplish so much when everyone’s so inspired, and that’s been a huge factor in our success.”

Early in the season, Jasmine felt his players were buying in, but the success the team has had thus far has likely fortified the belief his players have for his process.

“I just think the buzz is different right now,” Jasmine said. “We’re hearing it even from other coaches, asking, ‘man, what are y’all doing over there?’ And I think the kids feel that as well. I think we just arguably had our best practice of the year. We’ve got everyone back, including our football guys now. And they’re realizing what our team is capable of.”

The stiffest test so far comes this week as Hahnville competes in the Country Day tournament, which began Wednesday and annually pits some of the state’s top contenders against one another. Hahnville was slated to face undefeated Riverside Academy on Wednesday night (after press time), kicking off play against a field that includes defending state champions in Country Day, De La Salle and Landry-Walker as well as other perennial contenders like Karr and Scotlandville.

“As a competitor, how can you not want to measure yourself against those teams?” Jasmine asked. “The way we have scheduled, all of the wins we’ve had are pretty good ones. But we have a chance to make a statement at Country Day.”

He added that he was proud of his team for the way it responded in rematches against Curtis and Brother Martin to earn second victories.

HHS got a few additions with the end of football season, including some size in the form of Larry Dixon.

“I think any time you can beat a team twice in one season, that’s big,” he said. “Against Curtis, we won by one in the opener, then we came back and won by 12 (at the Brother Martin tournament). We beat Brother Martin by 19 the first time, then they played us tougher in the second game, but that was still something where we were able to get up by 20 at one point. So against a team you know has made adjustments against you, it kind of shows your growth.”

Dylan Lorio scored 26 in the second Brother Martin victory, a 69-64 win, while Glenn Grover added 11. Kaden Pierre and Ian Arnold each scored 10.

In a 90-66 win over KIPP Renaissance, Lorio led the way with 20. Grover added 19 and Jamel Byrd 11.

Hahnville bested West St. John 90-51 behind 16 points from Grover and 10 each from Takowan Grows and Wardell Strickland.

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