While Hahnville struggled at times to put away its first round opponent Southwood, the No. 4 seeded Tigers put its finishing power on full display Tuesday night at home.
Hahnville rode a third quarter wave of momentum to knock out East Ascension in the second round of the Class 5A playoffs, advancing to the state quarterfinals by a score of 82-53.
The Tigers (20-3) will host Bonnabel next round, and with a win can return to the state semifinals as it did a year ago. Like Hahnville, Bonnabel won in lopsided fashion as well Tuesday, advancing with a 74-43 victory over Central-Baton Rouge.
“We thought our first round opponent was pretty tough, and that was a great game to test us off the bat,” said Hahnville head coach Yussef Jasmine. “We took everything we did well from that game and tried to build on it … we understood we played well for about 29 minutes, then lost it a bit at the end. So we focused on being more poised, handling the pressure of the playoffs, and staying focused.”
Kaden Pierre and Claudell Harris each scored 26 to lead the Tigers. Tyren LeBeauf scored 12 and Koi Smith added nine.
Treyon Delmore led EA with 17 points. Tillicuis Irvin scored 13 and Keith Thomas added nine.
Despite the final, Hahnville actually got off to a bit of a slow start on Tuesday, committing a series of turnovers to begin play.
“I think there might have been some butterflies at the start,” Jasmine said. “We didn’t turn it over much at all after that, though.”
The Tigers did right the ship quickly, and ended the first half on a strong note to take a 33-26 lead into halftime after a LeBeauf basket.
Once the second half started, though, it was all Hahnville. Smith went up strong to score on the inside to get the Tigers started, and he combined with Pierre to give Hahnville a commanding advantage in the paint. Hahnville went on a 9-0 run before East Ascension answered, capping the surge with a two-handed Pierre slam that made it 42-26.
“Coach told us we had to take it higher than we were,” Pierre said. “We came out with a chip on our shoulder. The first two minutes of the game weren’t who we are, and we needed to take it up a notch.”
Hahnville was far from done. Pierre and Smith combined to score 19 points in the third quarter, and the Tigers outscored EA 29-11 in the period and led 62-37 entering the fourth quarter.
“The gameplan was to pound the paint,” Jasmine said. “We took some quick threes early on that we probably shouldn’t have … as we went, we just moved the ball, got it inside and Kaden really got going. I think foul trouble really slowed him in the first half. The joy of this team is we can do a little outside and inside.”
Pierre said he had one primary objective on the night.
“Coach told me to dominate the paint, and that’s what was on my mind all night, that they couldn’t stop me,” Pierre said.
The first round game was dominated by Harris, who carried the offensive load on what was otherwise a cold night for the Tigers’ offense.
On Tuesday, everything clicked.
“It’s why we are who we are … they played a box and one (defense) on MJ (Pierre) a little bit, and that just opened up driving lanes for other people,” Jasmine said. “We’re able to do what we do because of the makeup of the team. Kaden is dominant on the interior. Claudell brings a bit of everything. Tyren on the outside … when those guys are playing at their best, it’s kind of like you have to pick your poison.”