The Post-Journal

Pine Valley Girls Basketball Program’s Success Extends Off Court

The Pine Valley Lady Panthers returned home late Sunday to the South Dayton-Cherry Creek area, owners of their seventh New York State Public High School Athletic Association championship since 1991 and their third in a row.

To call what Coach Tim Nobles has built a dynasty may be an understatement.

For all the justifiable talk about the Niagara Falls boys brilliance this winter, the Lady Panthers quietly flew under the radar, picking up victories with quiet efficiency. Although they had no player over 5-foot-8 and no “superstar,” the girls in purple and white just played their game without caring who received the credit.

The secret to their success – defense - is hardly a well-kept secret. Nobles has been preaching that for more than 20 years, and, as of yet, no one has found a way to beat it. Not in Section 6 and, at least in seven of the last 14 seasons, not in New York State.

To opponents, Pine Valley’s dominance is frustrating. Its depth is almost unfair. But all the lady Panthers’ success isn’t a coincidence. Rather, it’s a product of hard work that the girls put in, not just during the season, but nearly 365 days a year.

You see, the Lady Panthers don’t know any differently.

From the time they’re in elementary school, they are aware of the tradition. Some are managers of the team growing up, others watch from the bleachers, dreaming of the day when they can put on a uniform. Names from the past - Pam Crowell, Harmonee Williams, Nikki Smith and Kourtney Troutman - serve as reminders of what a girl can do if she puts in the time, dedicates herself to the game and performs in the classroom.

You see, the basketball success at Pine Valley serves as a life lesson for Nobles’ group. The idea of teamwork, buying into a system and working toward a common goal is what makes people successful off the court, too. It’s not surprising, then, that if you did a little digging, you’d find former Pine Valley players excelling as adults.

For example, Crowell, the 1989-90 Post Journal co-player of the year, is now a physician in Florida, while Williams, the catalyst on two of the Lady Panthers’ state championship teams in the 1990’s and The Post Journal’s Play of the Year in 1992 and 1994, has toured the globe since graduating from Yale.

Earlier this year, I received an e-mail from Williams, Pine Valley’s second all-time leading scorer.

She had heard from family members still living in the area that I had listed her 42-point performance against Chautauqua in 1993 as one of the five greatest individual efforts the Southern Tier has seen in the last 20 years. I e-mailed her a copy of the story and then inquired about what she was up to.

Well, here’s what I found out: She’s living in Hawaii after spending the years after her graduation from Yale experiencing all the world has to offer. From Western Europe to the Far East, from Ecuador to the Big Apple, Williams has seen it all. Now she’s back in school at the University of Hawaii and is pursuing her Masters degree in urban and regional planning. She’s now in her third semester and should finish her degree requirements in the spring of 2006.

“I’m hoping to get a job planning eco-resorts and other environmentally friendly tourism sites around the world, “she wrote. “…Or maybe I’ll stay for my PhD… Still keeping my options open.”

My guess is that Nobles takes as much delight in getting that kind of “where-are-they-now” updates as he does from receiving another state championship plaque.

Both are reminders of what a successful program can produce.

The additional financial assistance of the community is critical to the success of the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame.
We gratefully acknowledge these individuals and organizations for their generous support.