Hahnville is headed to the big dance.
The Tigers officially qualified for the Top 28 boys basketball championship tournament after upsetting No. 2 seed Ouachita Parish on Saturday night to advance to the state semifinals, 70-67.
Hahnville (26-9), the 10th seed in Class 5A, will face No. 6 Alexandria in its semifinal matchup Wednesday night in Lake Charles (6:15 p.m., Burton Coliseum). The Tigers last made the state semifinals in 2009, when Hahnville made a run to the Class 5A state championship game.
HHS trailed throughout much of Saturday’s quarterfinal, with Ouachita (25-6) leading after each of the first three quarters. But Hahnville exploded for 33 fourth quarter points, almost doubling their previous output on the night after scoring 37 through the first three quarters combined.
“We dug in, man. We dug deep,” said Hahnville coach Yussef Jasmine, who will lead his team into the semifinals in his third season as the Tigers’ head coach. “We came down here to win and that’s what we did. We slowed them down a little bit, stretched them out a little bit, were able to get them in some foul trouble and pull away.”
“This is one of the most awesome wins of my career. To be down 14 points in the second half in the playoffs and come back to win, it shows the heart of the champion. I’m so proud of everyone.”
The Tigers trailed by eight at halftime, and OPHS scored the first six points of the second half to extend its lead to 39-25.
But Hahnville turned the game. It battled back to close within five heading into the fourth quarter, 42-37. The teams battled back and forth throughout the fourth, with Hahnville taking its first lead of the second half with less than three minutes left to play.
“We locked in defensively,” Jasmine said of what keyed the rally. “Offensively, we had been kind of stagnant, they were keeping us on one side of the floor and we weren’t getting ball reversals … so we made an adjustment and stretched them out. We opened up the court a little and created some driving lanes.”
Jasmine called it a small adjustment, but its effect proved mammoth as the Hahnville offense moved into another gear.
With a semifinal berth there for the taking, sharpshooting guard Claudell Harris Jr. came through in a big way, sinking two 3-pointers in crunch time to help spur a Tigers run, pushing Hahnville ahead 62-53 with less than two minutes left in the fourth quarter – in just over a minute, Hahnville outscored Ouachita 10-0 to take command.
“It was quick,” Jasmine said. “We talked about tempo, tempo … we were able to get out in transition and create some open shots. Once we were getting stops, we got out and ran … I think we kept pushing and pushing, and kind of wore them down.”
Ouachita made a late push to close within three, but Hahnville held on from there.
Alexandria defeated No. 14 seed West Monroe 62-56 Friday night to advance. It defeated West Ouachita in round one and Captain Shreve in round two.
Kaden Pierre led Hahnville with 23 points, while Harris scored 19 and Tyren LeBeauf scored 14. Each did major damage in the fourth quarter, with LeBeauf scoring 10, Pierre nine and Harris eight in the fourth quarter. Dylan Lorio scored five of his seven points in the fourth quarter.
The win meant much on several different levels for Jasmine. This is his first time reaching the state semifinals in his head coaching career, which began in 2007 at East St. John before he made the cross-district jump to Hahnville in 2017.
He became Hahnville’s fifth head coach in six seasons following the departure of current HHS principal Brian Lumar, who went into administration after leading Hahnville to two state finals. Building a winning culture was his first priority, with a group of players who hadn’t had stability.
The youngest of those players are his veterans now, players who believe they should win – and find a way to make it happen.
“It’s a blessing to be in this position,” Jasmine said. “It’s an overwhelming feeling. We’ve worked so hard to build a family atmosphere here. Not just among our 14 players, but our coaches, and our fans. We had our great fans here who made the trip tonight. They did their part, our players did theirs and our coaches did theirs. It’s so exciting to be a part of this.”