After a lopsided Hahnville victory in the first meeting between Hahnville and Destrehan, the Ladycats came out much stronger in game two and gave their archrival a fight.
But a stingy defensive performance in the fourth quarter by the Lady Tigers paved the way to victory as Hahnville ultimately captured a 53-38 victory at Destrehan.
Kourtney Irons and Niara Simmons each had 14 points for Hahnville. Reagan Harrold added 11.
Breion Richard led Destrehan (7-12, 2-7 with 18 points. Chelsea Dangerfield had eight.
Destrehan hung tough in this one, improving by several lengths over the first game between the two to kick off the new year – Hahnville won that one 64-39, but on Friday night, the Tigers held just a 39-31 lead headed into the fourth quarter.
That eight-point lead stuck until Niara Simmons sparked the Hahnville offense, a basket in the lane pushing the Tigers (16-13, 6-3) ahead 44-34. Irons sank a jumper a short time after to push the lead to 12. Harrold drove into the lane and dished to an open Genesis Lee, who banked it in to make it 48-34. Harrold’s own score on a jumper gave the Tigers their largest lead of the night, a 16-point advantage.
“She made some key plays, some crucial drives and dish-offs, especially in the fourth quarter,” Smith said of Harrold. “I thought everyone really played together in the fourth quarter. That’s what we’re looking for every night … I thought this was going down to the wire, but they really stepped forward.”
Harrold said the team was pressing offensively and had to take a step back.
“We started rushing a little bit,” Harrold said. “Once we spread it out and looked at what we had, set screens and drive, everything kind of opened up. We needed to take our time.”
Richard finally broke up the Tigers’ run with a pair of free throws, but the damage was done – Hahnville’s defense dug in and held Destrehan to seven points in the final quarter.
“I wish I could say, ‘it was the defense,’ but really it was them,” Smith said. “They had to fight. They played with their hearts and that’s all we can ever ask for.”
Smith said that without a key starter in Ah’Jaia Kenner, who was sidelined for the game, others needed to step forward in her stead.
“I knew it would be a battle, without (Kenner) we needed to figure out some different things,” Smith said. “I thought a lot of people stepped up tonight.”
The Tigers are pushing toward the playoffs, but for the first time in awhile, the defending District 7-5A champions will not wear that crown again in 2022. Hahnville has three district losses, but that does not make the stretch run any less important.
“It’s disappointing that we can’t so much win it, but we can mess some things up and make some trouble for people,” Smith said. “We’ll be looking for the girls to really finish up strong and head into the playoffs on a roll.”