Hahnville won 21 games and hosted a playoff game for the first time since 2010 last season, but Tigers boys basketball coach Yussef Jasmine isn’t about to rest easy or be satisfied after that effort.
The 2018-19 season will be Jasmine’s second at the helm of the team, a coaching position he took over after spending nearly a decade leading HHS district rival East St. John. Though the Tigers have lost seven seniors, he believes the returning core of this team can push the program to even greater heights, and Hahnville’s summer league performance suggests his optimism is justified.
Competing in leagues at Warren Easton and Crescent City, the Tigers tallied a 10-2 combined record and toppled several notable teams like Riverside, St. Augustine and Warren Easton, among others.
“The way we played this summer, with the speed and quickness our guys showed and the seasoning they now have, I think we’re set up to have a great season,” Jasmine said.
The Tigers played just a partial schedule in the Warren Easton league, but the team advanced to the championship game of the Crescent City tournament, ultimately falling in what was a nip and tuck battle throughout.
He said the confidence of his players at this point is notably raised from last summer, where the Tigers were seasons removed from being a playoff factor and had upperclassmen adjusting to a fourth coaching change in five seasons.
“At East St. John, we were established enough to where our kids expected to win. It was different for this group last year,” Jasmine said. “They had been losing and had some inconsistency with coaching, and it wasn’t a case where they’d walk into a game and expect to have success and win.”
This summer, his players put forth a strong effort. Notable performances were had by Dylan Lorio, who emerged as one of the team’s go-to options last season as a sophomore, Claudell Harris, Kaden Pierre and Briceson Harrell.
An eye-opener for Jasmine, he said, was the performance of junior Takourin Grows, a talented player who saw limited varsity action last season. Jasmine said the 6-foot guard is versatile and tough.
“He’s a talented kid who should have been on varsity all last season, but he came in late and I think struggled with coming off the bench,” Jasmine said. “But he may have been the most impressive guy this summer. He really adds a component to us defensively that makes us really hard to play against. He can play as a lead guard or off the ball. So it’s exciting to see him making that push.”
For Lorio, the sharpshooting junior point guard has a new comfort with being his team’s key initiator after breaking out at the end of last season.
“It doesn’t matter what year a guy is in, if he can play, he can play, and he’s going to get the opportunity,” Jasmine said. “I don’t care about age.”
Jasmine said the tough slate of games in the summer against historically strong programs is something he values greatly, and he said the time between the end of that schedule and the start of school can be tough to navigate as a coach.
“The tough thing as a coach is that when you wrap up summer play, you kind of have that gap before you get started again,” Jasmine said. “And they showed a lot during the summer … you always want to be working on your craft and making those improvements, so I’ve been eager to get it going again.”