Destrehan held off a fierce second half rally from Hahnville to nail down an 87-83 victory Wednesday night over their archrival in the District 7-5A opener for both teams.
Lionel “Lucky” Maxon scored a game-high 30 points to pace the Wildcats, who led by as many as 20. J.R. Blood scored 21 and Freddie Brown added 14 for Destrehan (11-8, 1-0).
“It was a real important win for us,” Maxon said. “We got a lot of power points from this one. All we’re trying to do is prove we’re better than we’ve been the last few years and make a name for ourselves … we wanted to run it up early to make it easier for ourselves in the second half.”
The game was played at R.K. Smith Middle School.
Dylan Lorio led Hahnville (13-6, 0-1) with 24 points. Ian Arnold scored 20, including six made 3-pointers, and Kendall Pierre added 10 points.
Destrehan attacked the basket relentlessly in the first half, doing most of its damage in the lane and at the foul line. It led 41-27 at halftime after jumping out to a 30-13 lead to begin the game.
“We started game off pretty good,” said Destrehan coach Todd Bourg. “We got it inside to our big guys and hit our (outside) shots when they were open.”
In the third quarter, Arnold caught fire from 3-point range, helping the Tigers gain their footing. He hit four of his six threes in that period to cut what was a 67-47 lead to 67-54 headed into the fourth quarter.
“He’s playing with a ton of confidence,” Hahnville coach Yussef Jasmine said. “Right now, it’s a matter of getting everyone playing with that kind of confidence, together.”
A shot by Lorio cut the deficit to single digits for the first time since the opening quarter. An Arnold 3 made it a 5-point game at 76-71. A layup by Pierre and two free throws by Jamel Byrd got Hahnville within range to tie at 80-77 with 53 seconds left.
But Destrehan wouldn’t break. Blood made a basket and a free throw to push the lead back to six, and that proved enough of a cushion from there.
“We talked about what we were doing wrong, not getting to shooters and things like that,” Maxon said. “Coach told us to buckle down and get a hand in the shooter’s face because they’re shooting too many threes, so we focused on that (late in the fourth quarter).”
Maxon’s big night didn’t come as a surprise to his coach.
“He plays hard all the time,” Bourg said. “He’s like me, he hates to lose. Sometimes, it can lead to him playing a little out of control. But one thing you never have to worry about with him is he gives you 110 (percent) every day, every game. It’s the mentality he had. He wants to win so bad and plays so hard.”
Jasmine said his team’s slow start ultimately did the Tigers in.
“It took us three quarters to really warm up and get our tempo and energy level where it needed to be,” Jasmine said. “I think (Destrehan’s) leaders took control and said I know who I am and I’m going hard. For us, I felt like we were almost afraid to go out and have success early. We showed what we were capable of at the end, but we can’t start that slow.”
NOTE: The game between the Destrehan and Hahnville girls teams initially scheduled for Wednesday night was moved to Jan. 18, with junior varsity tipping off at 6 p.m. and varsity to follow.