Hahnville finding new route to repeat success

Niara Simmons of Hahnville.

A season after a run to the state quarterfinals, Hahnville is winning again – they’re just finding a different way to do it.

The 2019-20 Lady Tigers stormed through most of their opponents with a relentless full-court press for four quarters of play. This year’s group, comprised of many returnees from last season’s breakout squad, has put together a 9-3 record thus far, following its 67-37 victory over Terrebonne Tuesday night.

But a relentless press wasn’t in the cards this year, with COVID-19 sapping everyone of preparation and conditioning time before the season. For head coach Arrianna Smith and her Tigers, it was time to get resourceful.

“We usually do Crossfit during the summer, but with everything that happened, I had to take them out to the track like we did in my first year,” Smith said. “We did it kind of old school.”

Still, the team had to adapt its style on the court to the new circumstances.

“It’s hard to really play that game, given the circumstances,” said Smith. “We have the personnel, but it’s hard to play that game when you’re not 100 percent, cardio-wise, to truly put pressure on them and then also contribute on the offensive side. I wouldn’t say we’ve fallen off, but we can’t play full court man to man for four quarters and survive. So you adapt.”

The press isn’t gone, but it’s been augmented with more zone defense. Smith, a defensive-minded coach through and through since her arrival at Hahnville five years ago, says there is still room to grow for her Tigers in that area, but credited her players for their ability to adapt and the way they’ve played to start the season.

“I think the big thing is, when you get fouls and you’re on the bench for a period of time, do you learn what you can do at that end of the court in district play, or does it not come until the playoffs? I hope we learn that early on, about not reaching in and beating that person to the block,” Smith said.

The Tigers have learned plenty in recent years. The program continued improving during Smith’s four seasons, culminating with the team’s strongest performance in years last season. This Tigers team is building on that success, something Smith said is in no small part due to the experience returning to the floor for Hahnville.

Kori Joseph and Kamryn Bartholomew and juniors Ah’Jaia Kenner, Reagan Harrold and Niara Simmons are the Tiger starters.  All played key roles in last year’s unbeaten district champion and quarterfinalist.

“They played, they performed in those games last year,” Smith said. “They’re not blinded by it because they were a part of it. This year, I think that’s let us build on what we did. We have that bullseye on us in district play. We don’t want to come back and share the district title. We want to go undefeated again.

“Right now it’s about finding that four quarter effort every night. If we go for four quarters, nobody should beat us if we truly play and finish. We want to go beyond what we did last year, and I really believe we have the personnel to do it.”

Hahnville is 2-0 in district play to start 7-5A play this season, with a win over rival Destrehan last week kicking off league play, 58-34.

Smith expects this Friday night to be a pivotal game in the district race: Hahnville travels to East St. John, which is off to a strong start this season as well and is among the top 7-5A contenders.

HAHNVILLE 67, TERREBONNE 37 – The Tigers defended their home court with vigor Tuesday night, led by Kamryn Bartholomew’s 14 points. Ah’Jaia Kenner scored 11 for HHS and Kourtney Irons added 10.

The Tigers led 30-14 at halftime.


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