Lady Tigers reach quarterfinal, but fall to top seed

Niara Simmons of Hahnville in opening round playoff game.

Hahnville’s season came to an end Thursday night at the hands of Class 5A’s top seed.

Ponchatoula rode a dominant second half defensive effort at home to pull away with a 65-37victory in the state quarterfinal round, with the 8thseeded Lady Tigers finishing as a state quarterfinalist for the second consecutive season.

Ah’Jaia Kenner and Kourtney Irons each scored nine and Kamryn Bartholomew scored eight to lead Hahnville. (18-4). Kori Joseph added seven.

Graves scored 19 and Womack scored 18 for Ponchatoula (29-0). Taylor Jackson added eight.

Ponchatoula held Hahnville to just four second half points, after taking a 38-33 lead into halftime.

It was a hard turn after the Tigers got off to a strong start in the first quarter, taking a 20-18 lead on the Green Wave after a quarter of play, potentially a confidence builder – Ponchatoula had bested Hahnville on Nov. 17 in the first week of the season, 76-55.

“It turned in the third quarter … we didn’t come out with the same plan and the intensity wasn’t there,” said Hahnville head coach Arrianna Smith. “We started to play a bit passive. People had three fouls, and didn’t want to get their fourth, things like that. The first few minutes of the third quarter was kind of the beginning of the end.”

Ponchatoula presents a matchup problem for most teams with a notable size and strength advantage up front. For a Hahnville team that relies on speed and quickness to overcome a lack of height, it proved too great a gap on Thursday.

“Ponchatoula probably questioned themselves at some point in time, but we just got away from what we wanted to do and they capitalized. We weren’t rebounding the ball. We know when we score 37, we didn’t play our game.”

Smith said part of Ponchatoula’s defensive focus was to eliminate Tigers’ lead ballhandler Kamryn Bartholomew at the offensive end.

“That meant someone else had to step up. They all can score. But we got away from our game,” Smith said.

While the loss was disappointing, Smith said she had no complaints about the season, nor her players’ effort in the quarterfinal or season-long. For the second consecutive season, Hahnville went unbeaten in District 7-5A play, and prior to Thursday had been on an 11 game win streak, the bulk of those wins coming by wide margins.

“It was an amazing season. We fought hard every day and learned a lot … I know they knew last year where they wanted to be, and they wanted this win really bad,” Smith said. “They battled. They played through adversity. Our seniors grew, and they’ll go on to be great young ladies in everything they do. And for our juniors, I think they’re going to take hold of that leadership role on the floor. I think we’re all better and we can be even better.”

 

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