Jovia Winkey is listed as a 5-foot-4 guard on the St. Anne-Belfield girls basketball roster. The senior standout’s impact on the roster is much larger as she looks to lead the Saints to another long playoff run.
Winkey scored 14 points, registered eight steals and added four assists last Friday in a 79-29 victory over St. Catherine’s in her final home game at STAB to earn Schewels Athlete of the Week honors.
“This season has been really, really good,” Winkey said. “In my opinion, this has been one of the best teams that I have been on. We have so much talent on this team and that is what is hard for our opponents, because we have so many threats.”
The Saints closed out the regular season with a 21 consecutive victories. STAB’s lone loss came to James Madison High School (Vienna) on Nov. 30. STAB rolled to another League of Independent Schools title with a perfect 10-0 mark and secured the top seed in this week’s conference tournament.
A four-year starter, Winkey has saved her best performance for her senior season. She leads the team in scoring (12.8 points) and steals (4.6) while also averaging three rebounds and 1.5 assists.
STAB coach Phil Stinnie said Winkey’s importance to the team is not measured in stats.
“The record is great, the stats are great, but numbers can’t describe the impact she has on her team,” Stinnie said. “Jovia is an amazing leader on and off the court. She’s always there to give her teammates a helping hand or encouragement when needed.”
On the court, Winkey is always locked in.
“Jovia could possibly be the best defensive guard in the state,” Stinnie said. “Her on-ball pressure is like no other and when she’s locked in, our opponents are in for a long night. I can honestly say the team goes as Jovia goes.”
Winkey said her competitive drive comes naturally. In a family full of athletes, the STAB senior said sports are an outlet to feed that drive.
“All the girls in my family played basketball and the boys played football,” she said. “I started playing basketball when I was 5 and I loved the game. I played other sports such as softball and soccer for fun, but I loved the game of basketball.”
With no girl travel teams in the county during her childhood, Winkey got her fix by playing with a boys team. Eventually, a girls travel team was formed and she’s been a fixture on the AAU circuit ever since.
“I chose the game of basketball because it fits my character,” she said. “I can be aggressive and competitive. It also became my release. Whenever I’m having a bad day, or things aren’t going well, I could always count on basketball to help me set aside any worries and to clear my head.”
For Winkey, basketball has helped her grow as a person as well.
“Basketball is more than a game to me,” She said. “I’ve learned more than just how to dribble or shoot. It has taught me teamwork, commitment, trust consistency and dedication.”
That love of the game has reached another level during her time at STAB. During the last four years, the Saints have compiled an 87-15 record, including a trip to the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association state title game in 2017.
This winter, the Saints closed the regular season ranked No. 2 in the VISAA Division I state poll, just behind Paul VI.
“STAB has had a great basketball program for many years,” Winkey said. “Ever since my freshman year, STAB was always the team to beat. We always got everyone’s best shot. There were always teams who wanted to beat us so bad because we have been wining for years.”
While some players shy away from the spotlight of a big game, Winkey embraces the challenge.
“I always like playing in big games,” she said. “It forces me to lock in and be mentally tough. It’s something that we as athletes strive to be in. I always want to play the best players because it ends up making me better. Whenever we have a big game, I know that it’s my responsibility to step up and lead my team, from jump ball to the end of the fourth quarter.”
She credits Stinnie for constantly bringing the best out in here game.
“Coach Stinnie is a great coach and I am thankful that I had the opportunity to play for him these past four years,” Winkey said. “He’s the type of coach that really focuses on making players the best they could be. He makes it fun for us because he teaches us how to play and building our basketball IQ, rather than how to run a specific play against a specific defense.”
Winkey patterns her game after Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry because of his great handle and his limitless range shooting the basketball. That combination, Winkey said, makes him “unguardable”.
The senior guard has tried to emulate some of Curry’s skills in her game.
“This season, I’ve really focused on trying to have two dominant aspects to my game,” she said. “I’ve tried to be a more consistent shooter and taking the defender off the dribble.”
Off the court, Winkey, enjoys spending time with family and friends. In addition, she volunteers at the University of Virginia Medical Center. She hopes to pursue a career as a doctor. Winkey’s favorite subject in school is biology with interest in the human body and genetics.
She has verbally committed to Simmons College, a Division III program in Boston, to play college basketball and pursue a career in the medical field. Last summer, she visited the campus and left impressed.
“I really like the school environment, athletic program and educational opportunities that Simmons has to offer,” Winkey said. “Boston is such a beautiful city and I could definitely picture myself there for the next four years. Coach [Michael] Williams really likes my style of play as a point guard and he loves how I am an in-your-face defender and my leadership on the court.”
Last month, Winkey scored her 1,000th career point in a victory over Trinity, a milestone she will always treasure.
“It was a huge accomplishment and an emotional moment for me,” Winkey said. “I thought back to my previous years and remembered seeing other girls score their 1,000th point, but I never pictured myself doing that. I wouldn’t have been able to reach that special milestone without my teammates coaches and family. I scored my 1,000th point in a big game against a team that has always been gunning for us and that is why the moment was so special.”
With tournament time starting this week, Winkey and her teammates are focused to make a run for that elusive state title.
“I have high standards for the remainder of the season,” Winkey said. “I know what my teammates are capable of and we just have to continue to work hard every day in practice and focus on getting better. A perfect season would be winning the LIS championships for my fourth year in a row, along with going to the state championship.”