For the first 16 minutes, it was anyone’s game. By the time the third quarter ended, it belonged solely to Hahnville.
Claudell Harris Jr. and Kaden Pierre scored 21 points each and Hahnville used a second-half surge to defeat the Newman Greenies 59-43 at the Newman Invitational Tournament.
The Tigers (6-3) had to fight for it early on, as Newman’s defense did its best to slow down Hahnville’s attack in the first half, resulting in the Greenies trailing just 25-21 at halftime. The second half was a different story as the Tigers exploded for 24 points in the third quarter while their defense held to Newman to just 12 third-quarter points, allowing them to pull ahead and ultimately win by 16.
“I think we just wore them down defensively,” said Hahnville head coach Yussef Jasmine. “We went into the locker room at halftime and I told (my players) that defensively we needed to pick it up another level, which I think we did a good job of. We knew their best guy was (Javon Ruffins), so we wanted to wear him down. He’s a good player so he’s going to make some plays, but once we got solid on what we wanted to do defensively we kind of wore him down.”
For Newman (2-3), the loss ends their chances of repeating as champions of their own tournament, having won last year for the first time since 1976. The Greenies got 19 points from Ruffins, but lack of assistance doomed them as only five other players got points on the board, three of them combining for just 5 points.
“We have to get better for extended periods,” said coach Jimmy Tillette. “We had some bright play, but we had some plays where we were confused and we couldn’t communicate our way out of what we needed to. We need to communicate better with each other. We need to get a stop and be in the right position. We forced some shots and then we couldn’t finish the possession in terms of blocking out. Offensively we need more people to get involved in scoring and have more people touching the basketball.”
The game started off as competitive as it could, both teams battling it out, with Hahnville coming out of the period with the edge 14-10 with Pierre getting 11 points to start the game.
It stayed competitive in the second as the Greenies defense held Pierre scoreless after his hot start and Hahnville led just 25-21 at halftime.
The third quarter is when things started clicking for the Tigers as they started things off with an 11-3 run and never let up, outscoring Newman 24-12 to pull ahead by 16.
Newman did their best to combat the Tigers effort in the fourth, but it wasn’t meant to be as the Tigers took the game and advance to face Country Day in the tournament semifinals Friday night.