Behind the return of three now-senior starters and a key junior reserve from its 2020-2021 Class 5A quarterfinal run, the Hahnville Lady Tigers have high hopes to continue the program’s ascent this season.
Ah’Jaia Kenner, Reagan Harrold, Niara Simmons and Kourtney Irons bring experience in their leading roles on this season’s Tigers team, which got off to a 2-1 start with victories over St. James and Loranger before suffering its first loss of the season to Walker.
“We have a lot of experience back, and the freshmen we’re adding to the mix this year are go-getters,” Hahnville head coach Arrianna Smith said. “We’re still trying to nail down that rotation and find that chemistry. I think we’ve had that mental toughness in the past, that consistency from night to night, and we’re working toward getting back there.”
The Tigers got going early and rolled as they defeated Loranger at home, 68-43. Niara Simmons scored a game-high 22 to lead the way. Daisha Summers added 12 and Ah’Jaia Kenner 9.
Against St. James in the season opener, it was much the same as Hahnville took down the Wildcats, 61-28. Kenner scored a season-high 23 while Simmons added 14.
Walker took complete control, however, in Hahnville’s lone loss of the season thus far – a 71-33 Walker victory. Kenner scored 12 to lead Hahnville there. Walker’s Ard led in the winning effort with 14 points, eight of those in the third quarter.
That large gap in performance between the Loranger win and Walker loss is something Smith said is indicative of the largest hurdle the team must clear to this point.
“That Loranger game, everything was really on point for us, from start to finish, from the starters to the reserves,” Smith said. “So, to go from that to where we were against Walker … it was disappointing, but at the same time it can be a valuable learning experience.”
Last season, Hahnville went 18-4 and marched to the state quarterfinals, falling at the hands of the classification’s top seed in Ponchatoula.
Intense defensive pressure has been the name of the game for Smith’s Tigers during her tenure. Being able to turn that dial back up to the same level is the goal, Smith said, but right now it’s a work in progress.
“We’re trying to get back there,” Smith said. “With the hurricane putting us out, we’re a little off track in terms of conditioning to where we’d like to be. Otherwise, just a matter of keeping that mental focus for all 32 minutes, continuously. We see flashes of it, but it’s also been a struggle at times.”
Hahnville will have ample chances to test itself over the next several days. Matchups with strong East Iberville, John Curtis and Ellender squads loom, kicking off with East Iberville Wednesday night. East Iberville and John Curtis represent two of Hahnville’s four losses a season ago – the other two coming to Ponchatoula.
“(East Iberville) is kind of a redemption game, to me,” Smith said. “Next week we’ll have Curtis and then Ellender. So, those should give us a good idea of where we are.”