The long wait is over for Hahnville, as tonight marks the opening of its regular season on the basketball court: the boys team will host John Curtis at 7 p.m. tonight (Nov. 19).
The Tigers bring back several starters from the team that pushed eventual Class 5A champion Thibodaux to the brink in the second round of the state playoffs, a painful defeat at home that yet showed great promise for the future. Hahnville led by nine in the fourth quarter of that game before Thibodaux rallied to victory behind a veteran group of playmakers.
That memory no doubt is burned into the minds of Hahnville’s core players, including Dylan Lorio, Takouren Grows, Claudell Harris and Kaden Pierre among team leaders.
“To be honest, it’s a unique season for us, coming off a really good season with a good group of guys pretty much all back,” said Jasmine, entering his third season with the program. “Tonight’s the first game of season for us, but I’m expecting us to click on all cylinders to be honest, because these guys are experienced.
“Curtis is always a good game for us. For me, though, it’s all about us and how much we improve individually and collectively as a unit.”
If the Tigers have their way, this will be an up-tempo, wide open style of game, the blueprint for the season as a whole.
“Create space … we want to play with space and pace,” Jasmine said. “We have a lot of guys who can get to the rim.”
At the other end of the court, Jasmine thinks this group can really stand out.
“This is a group of guys I really think can defend collectively. I’m excited about seeing what we can do there,” he said.
The team built a bond over its highs and lows last season. Jasmine said the Tigers don’t lack for leadership or togetherness.
“We’re such a team now,” said Jasmine. “Our older guys, some have been playing since they were freshmen, and now they’re juniors and they’re leaders. Last year, we made it past the first round for the first time in awhile. Losing to Thibodaux, knowing they won state … it was tough. But we’ve had progression and the kids see it and believe in it.”
That playoff win came on the road no less, at Lafayette.
Those playoff experiences will no doubt help fortify the team against a schedule that Jasmine has put together to test his group thoroughly before the district season and the playoffs. Following tonight’s Curtis game, the team will host Covington Thursday at 7 p.m. Next week, the Tigers will hold an invitational tournament from Nov. 25-27, one of four tournaments the team will take part in prior to the tipoff of the district season.
The eight team HHS tourney will include Carver, East Ascension, East St. John, St. James, Helen Cox, Slidell and West Jefferson.
“Good competition,” Jasmine said. “A lot of 4A, 5A schools that’ll be highlighted. It’s a good chance to test ourselves early.”
For the program as a whole, it stands as an exciting time for a number of reasons beyond the experience and talent of the Tigers’ roster. This will be Jasmine’s third season with the team, signifying stability on the coaching staff for the first time in a number of seasons: Hahnville had seen five different head coaches in a recent six year span.
“That’s been one of the biggest hurdles, the guys starting to feel comfortable and confident that they’re among the best in the state,” Jasmine said. “They went through this instability, and it’s a growing process … our guys don’t second guess it if they should win (anymore). They believe that if we execute our gameplan, we’ll get the results.”