STAB girls jump out early, advance to state final four

Photo by Ashley Thornton

St. Anne’s-Belfield’s girls basketball team has made a habit of jumping out early on opponents in an effort to build a sizeable lead and force the opposition to play from behind.


Now that approach just needs a name.


“I’m a VCU guy, we call it Havoc,” said STAB coach Phil Stinnie.


No matter what it’s called, it’s devastatingly effective. The No. 2-seeded Saints built a 24-2 lead out of the gate and rolled from there to a 54-30 victory over No. 7 Flint Hill Wednesday night in the VISAA D1 state quarterfinals.


Without the depth to maintain that breakneck pace for the entire game, the Saints are taking a calculated risk that they’ll put the opposing in too deep of a hole to climb out of. That’s exactly what happened to the Huskies, who outscored the Saints in the second half but simply couldn’t overcome that deficit.


That calculated risk becomes a lot less risky when Bri Tinsley is on the court as the Saints’ incredibly efficient point guard finished with 14 points on 6-for-11 shooting to go with three assists and four steals.


Tinsley got a lot of help from Ashley Taylor too as the senior scored 14 including four 3-pointers. She had three of those long balls before the half as the Saints built a 39-10 lead by the break.


“It makes people play us honest when she hits the shot and Brianna is penetrating and kicking, we have so many weapons it keeps everybody on (their) heels,” Stinnie said.


Jayla Davis finished with 11 points to round out the bulk of the Saints’ scoring and also added six steals while freshman Vanessa Woodfolk put together a nine-point, eight-rebound, four-steal night that also included a couple of first half assists on fastbreaks.


Sierra Smith finished with eight rebounds.


STAB finished with 22 team turnovers, nearly double the squad’s season average. They’ll have to cut down on those because things are about to get a lot more interesting for the Saints. They advance to a loaded state final four that includes No. 3 Bishop O’Connell as their semifinal opponent. O’Connell beat Bishop Ireton Tuesday night to earn their spot in the final four.