Pinkston's Nicole Stovall Honored by Dallas Morning News
Why Not Pinkston?
That was the rallying cry for the Pinkston girls’ basketball team’s playoff run that saw the team come within one game of playing for the UIL Texas 4A state title this year after failing to advance past the third round the two previous years.
According to girls’ head basketball coach Nicole Stovall, the “Why Not Pinkston?” motto is about more than her team or even her school. It is about the disrespect people have toward urban schools making it deep into the playoffs or even winning a state championship.
“People do not give big-city kids credit,” Stovall said. “We have talented kids at our schools. They bring talent and the work ethic seen in our communities.”
Stovall, who was recognized Thursday by the Dallas Morning News as its girls’ basketball area coach of the year, knows what she is talking about as a product of an urban high school herself. She was a prep standout at John McDonogh High School in New Orleans’ Seventh Ward.
“Grit and grind” define the work ethic Stovall’s team represents.
When the team was finally able to meet last fall for the first time after the COVID-19 layoff, she said you could see a hunger in every one of the players after falling short in the playoffs twice previously.
Their commitment was how the Pinkston girls were able to overcome the sting of those back-to-back losses to Melissa in the 2019 and 2020 playoffs to reach the state semifinals this year.
“They wanted it!” Stovall said about her team when they first met last fall. “You could see it.”
The Vikings won 22 regular-season games and finished second in the district behind rival Lincoln, the team they tied for a share of the 2019-20 district title.
When the playoff bracket was announced, Pinkston learned it would not get a potential opportunity to avenge its losses to Melissa until the regional final, but the Cardinals lost in the regional quarterfinals.
“We were hoping to face Melissa again,” Stovall said. “When you lose to a team in the playoffs, you want to face them again, but we faced some other quality teams.”
Pinkston’s run opened against Alvarado and followed with victories against Sanger, Kennedale, Brownsboro and Gilmer to set up a matchup with Canyon in the state semifinals.
Pinkston fell just short, losing 42-40 to Canyon, a powerhouse that went on to win its 20th state title.
Pinkston’s smothering defense caused problems for Canyon, which overcame a four-point deficit in the final three minutes of the game.
“They’re so physical and athletic and quick and they can take you out of your offense if you let them,” Canyon coach Tate Lombard told the San Angelo Standard-Times following the game.
Still on the court immediately after the game, Lombard told Stovall his team hadn’t faced a defense like Pinkston’s all year.
“He was really complimentary,” said Stovall, who also is a distinguished teacher on her campus in physical education.
Just like when she ran into several Canyon fans a few days later when she went to San Antonio to watch the state championship game. They were complimentary as well.
People were finally taking notice of Pinkston in the playoffs. The Vikings made the playoffs for the first time in 2018-19 and won its first district championship the following year.
“The first year, we shocked a few people and in the second year, we opened a few eyes,” Stovall said. “In year three, we knew we had the talent and had to get the players to play their roles and understand what it was going to take – the challenge was getting others to believe.”
We believe and can’t wait to see what the future holds.