After a difficult loss to Destrehan last week, Hahnville had another tough foe on deck as it played against a 16-4 Sophie B. Wright team.
Though the Tigers were within a 3-pointer of tying things up with under a minute remaining, Wright pulled away at the free throw line to eventually emerge with a 79-70 victory.
Hahnville coach Rick Spring credited his players for giving a strong effort just days after an emotionally-draining loss to Destrehan and given the loss of some key personnel.
“In a way, I think it’s that our guys just don’t know any better because they’re so young,” Spring said. “Wright has four guys at 6’3 or 6’4, and we’re not very big at all. Our guys approached practice the right way and came out to win on Friday, even if we fell a bit short.”
Hahnville began the season 3-1, but have fallen to 8-12 since, both youth and health playing a factor in that tailoff.
The Tigers recently got back a handful of guards who missed time earlier this season, but are now shorthanded in the frontcourt. Big man Wardell Strickland suffered a torn ACL and fellow forward Mako Marin has also been hurt, leaving the Tigers undersized.
Compounding the problem is the team’s injured guards haven’t had the opportunity to play themselves back into game shape. Of Hahnville’s 20 games this season, the Tigers have had their initial starting lineup all active just four times.
“We can put five talented guys on the floor together, that isn’t a problem,” Spring said. “But that chemistry you hope to have built by this point through 20 games, it isn’t there right now. Guys see that opportunity to step up and they’ve been working hard to do that, but at the same time, when you’re playing good teams, they tend to exploit your weaknesses.”
A bright spot has been the play of Dylan Lorio and Keith Williams III, two freshmen who have avoided the injury bug and thrived as team leaders.
“They’ve been at every practice, every game,” Spring said. “Those guys have been a big plus, to see them taking the lead for us as freshmen. At this point, 20-plus games in, you’re really not freshmen anymore, and we’re seeing growth each time out.”
Another encouraging sign, Spring said, is the collective attitude his players are showing.
“There’s no quit in them,” he said. “They’re not showing frustration or letting adversity affect them. The intangibles you look for are there and guys are pulling together to get through this.”
The Tigers return to action at home against East St. John Friday night.