Erica Randolph’s first game as head coach of the Hahnville Tigers was also her first victory – though in the moment, she wasn’t really able to reflect on it.
“Honestly, I was so into the game, making sure I was making the right calls, I wasn’t in tune with that part of it,” Randolph said of Hahnville’s season opening 64-62 home victory over Rummel. “Maybe after, but I don’t even think then – I was just in a different place than I’ve been in before.”
Hahnville’s Cobe Landry hit a key shot to help put that game away, and since then the Tigers have battled their way to a 6-4 overall record against a tough slate of teams.
Randolph is in her first year as head coach of the Tigers, succeeding former head coach Yussef Jasmine who stepped down as he was moving out of state to Georgia. Randolph was his top assistant as Hahnville made runs to the state semifinals in 2020 and 2021. One of the keys to the success of those teams was to not only schedule tough teams in non-district play, but teams that play varied styles, and the Tigers are sticking to that formula this season. Hahnville has earned wins over Rummel, St. Amant, Booker T. Washington, Jesuit, Karr and McMain, while falling to Newman, Crescent City, L.B. Landry and Bonnabel.
“You want to see as many good teams and different styles of play as you can right now, because when you get to the playoffs you’re going to face teams you haven’t seen before,” said Randolph. “You want to be ready and you want to be poised. It lets us know what kind of adjustments we need to make, both as players and as coaches, in order for us to be a successful team this season. The teams we’ve lost to are teams that are going to make a really deep playoff run, and three of those came down to one or two possessions.”
Randolph said the Tigers have quite a bit to build on – she noted this group has a very high basketball I.Q., is extremely coachable and has great competitive drive.
Ahmand Simmons, Cobe Landry and Calvin Smith are among the core players returning from last year’s Tigers squad and all have been strong thus far in 2023.
Hahnville got a big boost as well, however, with the addition of transfer Jordan Moore, who has led the team in scoring, averaging 18 points per game.
“He’s a different type of player,” Randolph said. “He’s going to make sure we finish and we win games. He’s going to hold his teammates and himself accountable on the court.”
His versatility is also a strength.
“He does a bit of everything,” Randolph said. “He can play lead guard and bring it up. He can guard a 6’8 kid. He can play small forward. Any intangible thing I need out there on the court is something he’s going to bring.”
Landry, a 6’5 junior, is second on the team with a 14 points per game average. Randolph said the sky is the limit for him if he can maintain consistency.
The number of close games thus far this season – seven have been decided by single digits – should be a boost going forward.
“Once you get to the playoffs, the talent-level and intensity level increases,” said Randolph. “The more comfortable you are and poised you are closing out games, it only helps you. You see teams that blow leads so many times because they just couldn’t keep their composure. Especially in our games, we’ve play a lot in front of sizeable crowds, so to finish games when the gym gets loud and you’re under pressure is an important sign of your program progressing.”
This is a very athletic and quick Tigers team that passes the ball well. When Hahnville is shooting well from the outside, it’s a very difficult group to slow or stop. Randolph said one area the team can improve in is at the defensive end, however – while Hahnville has put together some strong performances on that end, as it did in a 57-48 win over Karr, she sees more upside in that department.
“I think when you see how quick we are on the offensive end, it doesn’t always translate to defense. That’s an area we shouldn’t be lacking in,” said Randolph. “I’m a defensive-minded coach, so of course I want to see us play at a certain level, but also when we play well defensively it fuels our offense. We’re a transition team and getting stops lets us get out, run and get good shots quickly.”
Hahnville faces Lutcher, De La Salle, McDonogh No. 35 and Country Day in its final four pre-district games. On Jan. 2, the Tigers host rival Destrehan to kick off District 7-5A play.