For many teams, this prep basketball season has been a battle of attrition. Archrivals Hahnville and Destrehan can each attest.
Each team endured interruptions of play in the midst of their schedules, and as the teams took the floor for a District 7-5A rematch Saturday afternoon at Destrehan, each would be without key players. A defensive slugfest ensued, with Hahnville finding its offensive legs in the second half en route to a 60-45 victory.
Hahnville led 26-17 at halftime, but took firm control of the action in the third quarter. Claudell Harris scored a bucket to get the ball rolling on what ultimately became a 27–9 run that extended into the fourth quarter, leaving the Tigers (18-3) ahead 52-26.
Destrehan was without its floor leader Tyler Morton, who was sidelined with a knee injury in a district game last week. Hahnville was missing Tyren LeBeauf, Koi Smith and Billy Davis, all key members of the lineup and rotation.
“We pride ourselves on defense,” said Hahnville head coach Yussef Jasmine. “Offensively, things were a little different for us in the first half, missing that kind of talent changes things at that end. Defensively, we had to adapt and play a little more zone to deal with foul trouble … it was an example of playing through adversity, which I’m most proud of. We had to guard a little bit differently, but nevertheless we got the job done.”
Claudell Harris Jr. scored a game-high 23 points to lead Hahnville. Kaden Pierre chipped in nine and Cameron Lumar scored six. For Destrehan, Devin Fourche scored 18, Calvin Bullock seven and Jai Eugene and Daniel Blood six each.
While the result was similar – Hahnville bested Destrehan 66-38 Feb. 8 in the first meeting between the teams – Harris said this win was tougher to come by.
“We knew we had to really come in here in great condition. Kaden, Koi and I were going to play a lot of minutes with some of our guys out … it was a little tougher but we came out with the win,” he said. “We got into our zone, focused on having our hands out and talking, making it confusing for the offense. We were able to turn our defense into offense.”
Harris scored back to back baskets early in the second quarter to push Hahnville ahead 15-10. Fourche hit a 3-pointer to tie the game a short time later, following up on a pair of DHS free throws. But that would be the last time the teams were tied up: Harris scored and drew a foul for a 3-point play, then JaQuan Price dropped in a pull-up jumper to make the Tiger lead five. Harris added three more points at the line, Pierre sank a jumper and Corey Lorio added another make at the line to give HHS a nine-point halftime lead.
Lorio’s bigger contributions came at the defensive end where he was tasked with hounding Fourche, who was fresh off of a 29-point outburst against East St. John.
“We knew (Fourche) has had a few big games. Corey’s a defender for us, that’s what he likes to do … so any time we’re faced with a guard who’s pretty good, we feel comfortable because he’s a good defender,” Jasmine said.
The game was Hahnville’s last until the playoffs begin in two weeks, meaning the Tigers have a bit of time off. Jasmine said he’ll spend some of that time scouting and the team won’t put the time to waste – they’ll be in the gym preparing for what the team hopes will be a lengthy playoff run, one season after Hahnville marched to the Class 5A state semifinals.
“We’re really confident going into the playoffs. Anything less than a state championship is a disappointment,” Harris said. “We’ve built a program for four straight years since Coach Jasmine and his staff came in, and we just keep progressing.”
On the other side of things: for Destrehan (8-8), the next week will be critical. DHS has a trio of home games, all make-up dates, and the results will very likely determine the Wildcats’ postseason fate. DHS hosts Central Lafourche on Monday, Terrebonne on Wednesday and Thibodaux on Saturday.
The Wildcats fell to Thibodaux on the road Friday night, and prior to that game the team was unofficially in the final spot of the playoff projection, 32 in 5A power points. DHS likely dropped after back-to-back losses, but wins over the next three games could extend their season.
“That’s still our goal, to make the playoffs,” said Troy Green, in his first season as DHS head coach after a successful tenure at White Castle. “We’re right there on the brink. We’ve got to win out. I think if we take care of business, we’ll be right there.”