For the past year, Hahnville has used the painful memories of their 2019 second round loss to eventual Class 5A champion Thibodaux as fuel.
So as the Tigers learned who their first round opponent would be this season, it seemed fitting in a way: No. 23 Thibodaux will visit 10th seeded Hahnville at 7 p.m. on Friday night for a playoff matchup in Boutte.
Last year, Hahnville had their top-seeded district foe on the ropes at home, leading by nine with seven minutes left, but couldn’t hold its fourth quarter lead and fell 70-68. It was Hahnville’s third loss of the season to Thibodaux, the two teams being District 7-5A rivals, ending a promising season.
This time around, Hahnville is seeking its third win of this season’s series between the teams, with HHS earning a tight 62-60 win at Thibodaux on Jan. 14 and a more decisive 83-58 win on Feb. 7.
For an experienced Hahnville team that’s playing its best ball of the season, winners of 13 of 14, and with designs on making a deep playoff run, having to exorcise last season’s demons once and for all to make it a reality seems fitting. Hahnville coach Yussef Jasmine said he’s confident his team is ready to take on the challenge, but added he has no illusions it will be anything less than just that – a real challenge.
“Regardless of where they’re ranked, you’re talking about a returning state championship team,” Jasmine said. “Several guys on that team were a part of that and know what it takes. They’re going to come in with a winning attitude. They’re going to be here to compete, because that’s the kind of program they are.
“This isn’t a team that’s new to the playoffs or unfamiliar with being good.”
Thibodaux’s Kyren Lacy presents the toughest individual matchup offensively for Hahnville. The versatile 6’3 wing can score inside and from the perimeter, so whichever Tigers defender – or defenders – draw him will have to be tough guarding both areas.
“He’s a guy who can have a big impact,” Jasmine said. “You have to be mindful of him and he’s probably their toughest guy. But he’s not the only guy. They’re guard-oriented, similar to last year … they have some guys who if they get some confidence going early, they can make things difficult.”
As Hahnville’s program has ascended over the past few seasons, Thibodaux has been where Jasmine’s team has aspired to be. The games have been heated and it’s made for a strong rivalry.
“It feels like every game we play each other is a big one,” Jasmine said. “I was just asking, ‘man, has Hahnville always had a big rivalry with Thibodaux? Because it feels like it gets bigger every time out.’”
Though Hahnville ultimately did not beat Thibodaux last season, the Tigers nearly pulled off the upset. Jasmine expects Thibodaux to carry the same mentality his own team had a year ago.
“We were saying last year, ‘We’ve played them tough. We can beat them.’ They’re probably saying that about the draw this time,” Jasmine said. “It’s funny how the roles are reversed.”
Hahnville enters the postseason riding momentum from securing a season sweep of archrival Destrehan last week, beating the Wildcats 76-56 to secure the District 7-5A championship. Hahnville’s lost one game since December, a 78-72 loss to H.L. Bourgeois on Feb. 13 that snapped what was a 12-game winning streak.
“We’re definitely rolling on all cylinders,” Jasmine said. “We’re playing at our highest level of the season.”