Tigers eye bright future, create foundation

Yasah Gale
Yasah Gale enjoys a moment during a district victory.

Though Hahnville fell short of their goal of reaching the postseason, Lady Tigers coach Arrianna Martin said her team has plenty to build on before next fall’s tipoff of the 2018-19 season.

The Tigers finished with an overall record of 15-16, a late cold spell in part brought on by injury troubles officially spelling the end of their postseason hopes. All but three players will return from this year’s rotation, though it won’t be easy to replace their production — senior classmates Makaila Carter and Yasah Gale have been the team’s cornerstones for most of the last three seasons.

But younger members of the team made significant impacts and got rich experience under their belts, led by a pair of dynamic freshmen in Kamryn Bartholomew and Kori Joseph.

“We’ve been fortunate to have a good influx of talent in our freshman class, and we know there’s a lot of talent coming in from the middle school level again,” Martin said. “That really gives you a chance to develop a program and compete, obviously. There’s still that learning curve with young players, as well. It was an interesting year.”

Bartholomew missed the final three games of the season after tearing her ACL in the second half of a loss to Ellender. Prior to her loss, she emerged as one of the team’s primary playmakers, her best work including a season-high effort of 30 points against Destrehan. A primary ballhandler with size, her future is bright.

That said, Martin cautions she will not be rushed in her rehabilitation efforts. While the hope is to have Bartholomew back for the start of next season, her timetable will ultimately be decided by the advice of doctors, along with Bartholomew’s own determination to progress.

“I think she’ll definitely put in the work,” Martin said. “Even given her injury, she’s finding ways to get a ball in her hands, dribbling, even just holding it. I think she’ll come back stronger and that her work ethic will get even stronger. It depends on her physical therapy and her will. I think she’s got that determination.”

Joseph, meanwhile, was the team’s top reserve player. After Bartholomew was injured, her role expanded, and Martin said she showed her mettle down the stretch.

“She was kind of hidden a lot (behind the team’s other scorers) but she had a presence as a freshman,” Martin said. “With both she and Kamryn, the jump in competition brings a learning curve … it’s easy (in middle school) to get to the basket and score with her ability, but they won’t let you slide through at the varsity level.

“But those last few games, Kori proved a lot to me and, hopefully, to herself … that she’s capable of doing anything once she puts her mind to it. She stepped into Kamryn’s shoes the last three or four games and showed what she can do.”

While those two freshmen can lead the way into the future, Gale and Carter’s contribution can’t be understated, Martin said.

After carrying the scoring load by necessity in their own freshman and sophomore seasons, they rounded their games out in their final two seasons as Tigers. She added both players hope to continue playing at the next level and could have the chance to do so.

“I think when you have that kind of pressure on you and all of a sudden you have a night where maybe your shot isn’t falling, they took it hard, like they let down the team,” Martin said. “You have to eliminate that thought process. You never want one area of the game to create that negative thought process. I thought the last two years, they progressed a lot with their mindset.”

One thing is for sure: while the faces will change year to year, the team’s defensive effort will stay the same. This season, Hahnville was strong at that end of the floor.

“That won’t ever change. My mentality starts with defense,” Martin said. “We may lack for size next season, but we’ll still be quick. Our bread and butter is our ability to get those quick steals and turn the opponent over.”

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