Following Hahnville’s run to the Class 5A state semifinals last season, the Tigers aren’t resting on those laurels. If anything, the Tigers seem even hungrier these days after a taste of the Top 28 tournament – their start to this campaign indicates they’ve got appetite for a full meal.
Hahnville is off to an 8-1 start, the latest victory a 75-70 win in double overtime at Jesuit (7-3), another team that’s started strong in 2020.
“It was a great win,” said Hahnville head coach Yussef Jasmine, now in his fourth season with the Tigers. “At Jesuit, you always have to be disciplined and always have to be patient. They’re going to keep coming at you and they find another gear mentally when they see their chance (in the second half). They did that today and we withstood it.”
Jasmine said the Tigers took care of the ball especially well early in the game as well as in the fourth quarter.
“We found our poise down the stretch,” Jasmine said.
Claudell Harris led the Tigers with 24 points. Tyren LeBeauf scored 17, Kaden Pierre 14, Da’Quan Price 11 and Kai Smith 9.
Hahnville has stacked up a series of strong wins thus far, over teams like Helen Cox and McMain among the highlights. The Tigers’ lone loss came to a tough Madison Prep team by four points last week, a perennial contender in Class 3A and that classification’s state champion of 2019.
Jasmine talked about changing the culture of the boys basketball program when he arrived from East St. John in 2017. The Tigers have taken a step farther in each of his seasons as coach – hosting a playoff game in year one, getting to round two (and pushing eventual state champion Thibodaux to its limit), and marching to the state semifinals and top 28 tournament last season.
This year’s group has that memory etched in their minds, as most of the Tigers have returned from last season. A 6’6 center, Smith has emerged to join Pierre in the frontcourt and give Hahnville added muscle in the paint. The Tigers are also a bit longer on the perimeter – thanks to some in house growth already on the roster (Harris, for example, grew an inch to 6’3 after being listed at 6’2 last season).
Though the Tigers got off to a strong start in 2019, Jasmine sees a lot of growth even from that point to today.
“About this time last year, we lost to Scotlandville by 40,” Jasmine said. “After that game, we were headed up … I think we know now how to stay poised and win in crunch time … defensively, our makeup is a little bit different than it was last year. In my opinion, we’re better and more disciplined at this point.”
He sees how much his players are working to get back to championship level competition. Once his players experienced success and the games at that peak level, he says, it seems to have only inspired them further.
“I think once you get to that level, you’re in those big playoff games with the fans and the atmosphere, it feels so good and you want more of it,” he said. “Every year, we just focus on building on what we’ve done. We’re seeing the results now, but this started three years ago.”