Saints ready to make another run at state title

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (NEWSPLEX) -- The girls basketball team from St. Anne's-Belfield is back in the state playoffs this week. That means another round of good-natured ribbing for STAB guard Bri Tinsley.

"It's kind of nerve-wracking. Because I have relatives that have won state championships, and they always throw it back in my face," Tinsley explained with a big smile Tuesday afternoon at practice. "It's a competition I have with my family, and it's really fun to have."

The Saints have reached the state tournament in each season of Tinsley's STAB career, but have yet to capture a VISAA title. Last year's season ended with a 46-44 loss in the state semifinals.

Tinsley will get one last shot at a championship this week. STAB is the No. 2 seed in this year's VISAA Division I tournament. They'll host the winner of Tuesday's Collegiate/Flint Hill game in Wednesday's state quarterfinals.

"It's just really exciting because we've worked really hard, and all four years I've been here we've been so close," Tinsley said. "And we have a really good shot again this year. So this is really exciting."

"We're just lucky and blessed that we have the opportunity to go out there and work," STAB sophomore guard Jovia Winkey said. "I know we've been working hard since day one, and we've just been pushing. So we're really aiming toward our goal."

"We've been building toward this all year," said STAB coach Phil Stinnie. "We've accomplished one of our goals. We got the conference championship, and we're pretty pleased with that. But now it's on to the next goal. Hopefully to be playing this weekend in the final four."

STAB captured a fourth straight LIS conference title by beating St. Catherine's 53-52 on the road in last week's championship game. The Saints are 22-3 going into Wednesday's quarterfinals. That includes a combined 3-0 record against Collegiate and Flint Hill.

"We know who we're facing, but everybody's different in the state. It's a different mentality, different intensity," Stinnie said. "We've been talking, the motto of the week is, "This is the week." Let's go out and leave it on the floor. Every practice, every game."

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