Tigers fighting off injury, turning things back around

After a hot 3-1 start to the basketball season, a banged up Hahnville basketball squad hit a speed bump, dropping 7 of its next 9 games. But the Tigers are getting healthier and look to be back on track as HHS entered this week coming off back to back decisive wins over West St. John and Ascension Catholic, pulling their record (7-8) back within a win of .500.

Hahnville has been dealing with injuries to several key players, including point guard Raylon Hardy, guard Ian Arnold and forward Dionte Sumlin. Hardy, a senior point guard, is the Tigers’ lone returning starter this season. Arnold hit 17 3-pointers in his team’s first four games before suffering injury and Sumlin was one of the team’s most promising players in summer ball.

“We’ve been bit by injury a little bit. Knees, ankles, Achilles … we’re fighting through it,” Hahnville coach Rick Spring said. “It’s part of the game and you just battle through.”

Hardy missed time with a groin strain and has recently returned to the lineup, though his minutes are being limited as he works his way back to 100 percent. Arnold has missed the past 10 games with an Achilles’ injury, while Sumlin’s leg has been in a boot as he heals. Spring said he hopes to get both back soon, preferably before the start of district play in early January.

There is a silver lining, however. Spring noted the injuries allowed a number of players increased opportunity, and some have taken that chance and run with it.

Freshman Dylan Lorio has made his mark of late. The talented guard got increased playing time at the recent St. Charles Catholic  tournament and scored 15, 20 and 13 points, respectively, in Hahnville’s three games. He followed up on his tournament breakout with performances of 20, 27 and 18 over the team’s past three games.

“That’s a case of someone taking advantage of the opportunity when it comes their way,” Spring said.

A senior is surging as well, as guard Terrell Jefferson has posted scoring performances of 23 and 21 recently. Meanwhile, freshman Keith Williams III has done nothing but further cement himself as a Tiger cornerstone since a hot start to the season, averaging 17 points per game this season.

“We’re making adjustments with our rotation, for sure,” Spring said. “Guys have stepped up and now we’re figuring out what combinations work best together.”

While the discovery of depth is a very good thing, Spring warns time is of the essence for his team as district play looms. Hahnville will take part in the Grace King tournament next week, which features teams like John Curtis, Bonnabel, West Jefferson and John Ehret. If the Tigers can’t cement their identity during that as a cohesive unit, it would have to figure things out on the fly in district play.

“This isn’t the district you want to be entering with question marks remaining,” Spring said.

In the Tigers’ 104-52 win last Friday over Ascension Catholic at the St. James tournament, Jefferson led the way with 23 points, including seven 3-point makes. Lorio scored 18, Williams III 17, Hardy 13 and Glenn Grover 10.

Against West St. John, Lorio scored 27 in a 65-48 Hahnville win.

And in a 77-74 loss at Morgan City, Jefferson scored 21, while Lorio added 20 and Wardell Strickland 12.

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