St. Anne’s-Belfield girls basketball’s Jovia Winkey knew how critical winning Wednesday in the VISAA Division I state quarterfinals was and it showed.
“This was a really emotional night for me, I knew I’d be stepping on this court for the last time so I just tried to leave it all out on the court,” Winkey said. “These four years it has been a ride, it has been a journey and I’m just glad I went out with a bang.”
A bang is correct.
Winkey exploded for a career-high 35 points including eight 3-pointers (going 8-for-9 beyond the arc) in a 64-42 win over Episcopal In the process, she helped cement a particular legacy for her and the rest of the senior class — four state final fours in four years.
“I’ve had some phenomenal teams here but this is probably the best team I’ve had top to bottom I’ve ever had,” said STAB coach Phil Stinnie. “These girls enjoy playing with each other, they’re passionate on and off the floor about each other and they just love looking out for one another.”
The Saints will square off against Bishop Ireton in the state semifinals. The Cardinals ended the Saints’ season last year in the same round.
Winkey, who’s reputation is built on defense and the transition baskets her steals create, was just feeling it in the win over Episcopal and her coach knew before she’d knocked down one bucket.
“I just saw it in her eyes yesterday, she was determined to get back to the final four,” Stinnie said. “I told the seniors yesterday it is really up to you guys if you want this to be your last practice. Now it’s win or go home.”
Winkey — who shot 63 percent from the field — helped STAB jump out to a 21-5 lead over the No. 7-seeded Maroon and the Saints never looked back. Kymora Johnson and Vanessa Woodfolk cleaned up on the boards while Winkey got going on offense. Johnson pulled down five boards and dished out five assists while Woodfolk had 10 rebounds and three assists. Woodfolk also rejected three Episcopal shots.
Scottie Hull finished with nine points on the night. Jada Bennett and Daija Bennett each chipped in six points while Alex Greer grabbed four rebounds for the Saints.
With that collective effort, STAB will now get a chance to earn a shot at the state title game.
“A lot people didn’t expect us to be here, but this is our year,” Winkey said. “We really came together and stayed together as a team.”
STAB will face Bishop Ireton Friday night at 8:30 p.m.