Lady Tigers finding groove as district play begins

Ryli Martin of Hahnville (Photo by Ellis Alexander)

After a bit of a rocky start to the season, Hahnville is starting to find its groove.

After beginning the season on a 1-3 start, the Lady Tigers are winners of five of their last seven games, the most recent a 56-24 victory over Catholic of New Iberia, bringing their record to 9-6 overall.

This year’s Tiger team sees several players in expanded roles from a year ago, but one very familiar face in senior Kourtney Irons, a sharpshooting wing who has played extensively for a strong program under head coach Arrianna Smith.

There is some exciting youth on the way up, including sophomores Dihlynn Mitchell and Ryli Martin, both of whom shined during the team’s summer league exhibition schedule. Several sophomores along with a strong junior class fills out the team’s rotation, with junior guard Saige Stewart among its leaders.

While Hahnville still has much ground to gain, Martin says, the team’s growth over the first 15 games of the season is unmistakable.

“It’s a growing process right now,” Martin said. “There are growing pains – we are doing well, but the growing pains are inevitable and we’re working through it. We’re still trying to establish that chemistry … different individuals are stepping up on different nights, but we still have to find that consistency over four quarters each night. We’ve done some good things and we’re hoping to build on that in our upcoming games.”

Part of establishing that consistency is finding an identity. Typically, for Smith’s teams that has come at the defensive end, where the Tigers have been relentless in her time at the school. This team has shown signs of that, particularly in its recent stretch – prior to a 71-48 loss to Mandeville, it held five consecutive opponents to 44 points or less. At the same time, there have been three occasions the opposition has crossed the 70-point barrier.

“Right now, it’s a difficult question to answer because it’s been different things night to night,” said Smith when asked what the team’s strong point has been thus far. “Something that may be key in one game isn’t in the next. We’ve been finding a way, but I can’t say we’re relying on offense mainly or defense mainly – you just never know which it’s going to be right now.”

She expects that growth as this is a group that gives maximum effort.

“We’ve been up and down but we’re playing hard,” Smith said. “I think our win against New Iberia (a 49-41 win at the Lady Tigers’ home tournament) was one we really fought for … that one stands out to me.”

The team is 1-0 thus far in District 7-5A play via a 57-39 win over Central Lafourche. The team returns to district action next week, on Dec. 29 in an away game at Terrebonne.

The first game of the new year pits Hahnville against archrival Destrehan, a game that could carry a bit more hype than recent years. The Lady Wildcats are off to a strong start after a few retooling seasons following the program’s state championship win in 2017, DHS carrying a 10-3 record into this week, with eight wins in its last nine games. Destrehan will host the rivalry matchup, the second time the teams will play in the Wildcats’ revamped gym on campus.

“We’ve seen them play here and there so far this year and they have a strong team,” said Smith. “I’m expecting a very competitive game. They host, so we’ll have to be prepared mentally for that atmosphere, but these are the types of games that get the girls excited.”

 

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