Lady Tigers retooling under new coach, eye turnaround

Twenty-one years after graduating from Hahnville, former HHS and Nicholls State basketball star Arrianna Smith-Martin is attempting to mold the Lady Tigers basketball program into a consistent winner. Martin, who was hired this year after the departure of former Hahnville coach Phillip Bychurch following last season, said that the adjustment phase for both she and her players is still ongoing. She also said she wouldn’t trade it.

“Hahnville is probably the only school that could have made me make the jump (into high school coaching),” said Martin. “To come back 21 years later, it’s special. I’m happy to be here. It’s been an eye opener, off the court even more than on. I’m enjoying it, but I’m still adjusting a little bit.”

The Tigers are 2-6 so far this season, sporting a very young rotation of players who are learning a brand new system. The team hasn’t been that far away from flipping a few losses into wins —Hahnville has lost a pair of overtime games this season — and Martin believes her team isn’t that far off from making a push.

“Coming in, I thought these girls had a pretty good squad together,” Martin said. “They’ve got the talent. What I want to do is help them add that work ethic you need to be successful. They have to understand that it’s about challenging themselves. The bare minimum isn’t enough.

“We’ve had some girls play well in a game, then in another they might be off and others on. We haven’t got everyone on the same page for a complete game yet. But that comes with growing pains.”

While the Tigers are young across the board, leading scorer and returning All-District forward Makaila Carter and point guard Yasah Gale were cornerstones of the team a year ago and entered this season with some experience carrying the load. Both are juniors and each will be major parts of the building process under Martin over the next two seasons.

“(Carter) is starting to realize her potential. She’s playing extremely hard for us,” Martin said. “Yasah is contributing a lot at the point and has come through in a number of spots for us.”

Forward Victoria Corley, a senior, has added some punch on the boards as well.

“She’s been a big plus for us defensively,” Martin said.

The Tigers’ two wins this season have come over Vandebilt Catholic and East Feliciana.

Last week, the team dropped a tough contest to Dutchtown, falling 48-35 to the Tigers’ former district foe.  Carter scored 20 points.

Hahnville fell in back to back contests to perennial factor Ellender, by scores of 52-37 and 60-43, respectively. Carter scored 16 and 19 points over the two games, while Gale scored 9 and 10.

In a 55-53 loss to Assumption this week, Carter scored 18 and Paceley Williams added 18 Tuesday.

Next week, the Tigers will face H.L. Bourgeois and Thibodaux as they begin District 7-5A play. HHS hosts H.L. Bourgeois Tuesday at 5 p.m. (varsity only) and will travel to Thibodaux Thursday (5 p.m., JV/V).

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