BEMUS?POINT?- Pine Valley is a Class D school that resides in a league - Division 3 of the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association - that is comprised of primarily Class C teams.
"Playing up" hasn't been a problem for Coach Tim Nobles' crew.
Sparked by a double-double from Alex Smith, Pine Valley shrugged off a slow start to post a convincing, 45-20, victory over Maple Grove.
Photo by Scott Kindberg
Maple Grove’s Nickara Lidell, left, guards Pine Valley’s Emily Scott during Thursday’s CCAA?Division 3 girls’ high school basketball game.
The win improves the Lady Panthers' record to 12-3 overall and 9-0 in the division, while the Lady Red Dragons, who were playing without an injured Molly Beaton, fell to 8-7 and 6-4.
"I haven't seen a lot of the Class D teams play," Maple Grove coach Chris Johnson said, "but I think they're going to be in the sectional final. I'd be surprised if they weren't."
Leading only 10-6 midway through the second quarter, Pine Valley finished the first half on a 9-2 run and then began the second half on an 13-4 surge - Smith had nine of the points - that put the game out of reach.
As has been their custom for years, it was the Lady Panthers' defensive pressure that resulted in turnovers and transition buckets on the other end.
"They're defense is so good," Johnson said. "I keep hoping they'll have a group that can't quite do it for them, but we haven't run into that."
For good measure, Pine Valley outscored Maple Grove, 13-2, in the final period to put an explanation point on its ninth league win without a loss.
In addition to her 15 points, Smith also hauled down 10 rebounds and had six steals. Carlye Swanson added seven points and eight boards, and Emily Clapp had five rebounds and four steals.
Lauren Nickerson led Maple Grove with seven points and Jen Prechtl had 13 rebounds.
"Not having (Beaton, who is out with a knee injury) hurt us," Johnson said of the junior guard. "She's our best ball-handler and leading scorer. All I can do is ask the girls to step up and try and fill some of that void. The effort was there. I couldn't be more proud of the girls."
For Pine Valley, its march to the postseason continues.
Johnson hopes to have Beaton back in time for the playoffs.
"She's doing all the right things," he said. "Hopefully those right things will get her back for the playoffs."