Since Hahnville finished as a Class 5A finalist in 2009, the Tigers’ boys basketball program hasn’t come close to that milestone.
The Tigers have not advanced past the first round since that run to the title game. Hahnville has had four different head coaches in the past four seasons, unable to find a long term fit to head the program since former head coach Brian Lumar stepped down to focus on the role of Hahnville athletic director.
Rick Spring hopes to change that. He takes the reins of the Hahnville program this year after compiling a record of 142-49 as Slidell’s head coach and helping lead Salmen to three district championships as an assistant.
So far, the returns have been promising — and crowd pleasing, at that. The Tigers are off to a 4-2 start this season against a tough slate of opposition under Spring’s watch. His up-tempo style has already shown results on the floor, as the Tigers average 87 points per game so far this season, with three games over 92 points scored.
That includes the Tigers’ last win, a 104-71 victory over Loranger (3-4) in the St. Thomas Aquinas tournament. Christian McKinney scored 29 points, sinking 8-of-14 3-point attempts. Mason Aucoin scored 20. Nathan Kennedy scored 16 points while pulling down 11 rebounds, while Lane Bolner posted a line of 10 points, 11 assists and six steals.
McKinney leads the Tigers in scoring thus far, averaging 24 points per game. Aucoin is chiming in with 19.5 points a night.
It seems the players are buying into Spring’s system.
“I think so,” Spring said. “It’s a learning process. We’ve kind of been riding a roller-coaster so far and we’re searching for consistency. Everyone’s still getting their feet wet. We’re getting some help with our football guys, who are coming in now, but we need to get them into basketball shape.”
Hahnville is competing at the Newman tournament this week, which could pit the Tigers against a number of contenders. The tournament — which will be contested in bracket and not round-robin format — began Tuesday, where Hahnville faced Brother Martin. HHS will continue play today against either McDonogh No. 35 or Country Day, pending first round results.
“It’s one of the oldest and biggest tournaments in the country,” Spring said. “It’s an honor just to be invited. At the same time, we’re not satisfied with just an invite. We want to win it.”
Spring said while his team is quickly adapting to the speed and hustle his system demands, he wants to see the team’s offensive efficiency gradually increase.
“We’re getting shots early, and we look for those,” Spring said. “But there are times you can pass up a good shot for a better shot, and that’s what we’d like to see a little more of.”
Spring said he thinks that will manifest itself in upcoming games, as opposing teams begin focusing on stopping McKinney and Aucoin.
“I think Lane and Raylon (Hardy) are making a similar percentage of their shots as Christian and Mason, but they’re not getting as many shots up,” Spring said. “They’re finding guys open and looking to pass, but they’re going to see more shots when teams try and take away our primary shooters, and they’ll have to step up. A pecking order of scorers has kind of developed … we’re getting 85 or 90 shots up a game, so there’s plenty to go around.”
Hahnville lost a tough game to John Curtis (4-1) last week, falling 86-83 to the perennial contender.
Aucoin scored 25 points (making 7-of-16 3-point attempts) and Bolner scored 17 points to go along with 10 assists and five steals. McKinney scored 13 and Hardy added 11 points and six assists.
“We played very well in the first half and led most of the way, but we didn’t do a good job finishing,” Spring said. “We let them back in it down the stretch and it cost us.”
Next week, Hahnville will begin a three game stretch against South Lafourche (2-2), Crescent City (5-2) and Morgan City (5-2). After that, the Tigers will travel to Choctawhatchee, Fla. to compete in national tournament play. Then comes district play in early January, with a matchup with archrival Destrehan leading things off.
“South Lafourche is a team that is going to try and control the pace and slow us down,” Spring said. “Crescent City’s very athletic and I don’t think they’ll be concerned with keeping up. Morgan City’s a mix of the two. They’re always well-coached and it’s a roster full of athletes. All three teams will present different challenges for us.”