St. Anne’s-Belfield’s girls basketball squad was confident they’d get another shot at St. Catherine’s after a regular season loss to the Richmond school cost STAB a shot at the regular season League of Independent Schools title.
Tuesday they earned that shot with a semifinal win over Trinity Episcopal and Thursday night they took advantage.
STAB battled St. Catherine’s all night eventually pulling off a 53-52 victory to take home the LIS tournament title for the fourth year in a row.
“Jovia (Winkey) and Bri (Tinsley) played great defense late,” said STAB coach Phil Stinnie. “They played like they were determined not to lose.”
Winkey and Tinsley weren’t bad offensively either, with Winkey leading the way for STAB with 22 points on a scorching 8-for-13 from the field to go with her three steals. Winkey has recently emerged from a bit of a rough patch and it couldn’t come at a better time for STAB.
“She’d been in a little bit of a slump and she worked out of it,” Stinnie said. “Now we’re seeing that she’s peaking at the right time.”
Winkey exploded for 12 of her 22 in the second quarter, when STAB had to have some instant offense after St. Catherine’s jumped out to an 18-11 lead after the first quarter. Her effort helped STAB head to the locker room up 33-32 after erasing that early seven-point advantage. From there, STAB went back-and-forth during the second half with St. Catherine’s. St. Cat’s got a chance to go ahead at the buzzer but St. Catherine’s couldn’t connect.
Tinsley checked in with 19 points, four assists and four steals (St. Anne’s had 12 as a team) to spark STAB while Sierra Smith pulled down nine rebounds.
St. Catherine’s had four players score 10 points each in a balanced offensive effort. Sydnei Archie, Mary Clarke Wallace, Jerice Black and Cara Menges each had 10. Emily Wigg finished with eight to round out the bulk of St. Catherine’s scoring.
What’s particularly impressive about the win over a tough St. Catherine’s squad is that STAB had to do it with an entirely new approach and style. On the fly in the last couple of weeks with Jayla Davis’ injury, Stinnie was forced to re-tool and challenge a group of veterans and a strong group of young players to adjust and give themselves a shot at a strong finish.
“We’re just playing a whole different style now and it’s working out for our girls,” said STAB coach Phil Stinnie.
The win over St. Catherine’s surely solidified the way the team is handling that new approach.
“It does a lot for their confidence — Jayla, she made everything click,” Stinnie said. “(The LIS title) shows when we lock in as a unit, we can play with anyone.”