Her freshman season was truly something. Jovia Winkey had to wait patiently for minutes, but behind one big defensive play after another, the St. Anne’s-Belfield guard found a way to come up clutch. With the graduation of Ashley Taylor two years ago and then the graduation of Brianna Tinsley and Jayla Davis, the Saints roster is missing three athletes now respectively at William and Mary, Virginia and Sacred Heart from when Winkey first started with the Saints. Even for coach Phil Stinnie who’s used to losing that type of talent from time-to-time, it’s a lot. But it’s not like he and his players didn’t see this reset button coming over the last few years.
As such, STAB is fortunate that Winkey earned the minutes she did as a freshman and sophomore and under the pressure of that playoff environment both those teams experienced. It’s been a long time since Tinsley wasn’t the sure handed guard on both ends of the floor but in Winkey they have a vetted guard in that mold going forward.
“I’m not a role player anymore and I know it,” Winkey said. “It’s about stepping up and there are younger players now looking up to me so you just have to fill that role, just do what I can to motivate my team and push them.”
In her first 11 games this year Winkey has managed to assert herself offensively by leading her team with 16.7 points per game. With 1.9 assists per game her new role as the team’s key distributor is making progress too. But if there’s one thing that STAB has learned about Winkey it’s that her defense steals the show, quite literally. She’s averaging 4.9 steals per game right now. Pair that with her 3.1 rebounds per contest and you’ve got a guard that’s rounding out her game.
The Saints played their usual wildly challenging schedule in December and came out with a 6-4 record, a pretty solid sign. Now as they jump into LIS play, they have a crown to defend against some more familiar opponents. If they manage that slate like they have in years past, STAB could get back to a VISAA Division 1 semifinal in a year that many in the private ranks were hoping would be a quick quarterfinal exit, if that at all. Don’t be surprised if the Saints once again crash that final four party, especially as Winkey continues to grow into her leading role.