In the best era of girls’ basketball at Plantation American Heritage, Tatyana Wyche has been one of the constants. The star post player has been a part of three state championship teams and now she’ll have a chance to win a fourth Saturday, so it means something when she heaps praise upon her team.
After a 66-29 rout of Clearwater in the Class 5A semifinals Thursday in Lakeland, she didn’t shy away from a bold proclamation.
“So far,” the senior said, “this is the best team.”
It’s easy to see why. Wyche and twin sister Taliyah Wyche — both of whom have signed national letters of intent with the Florida Gators — give American Heritage (24-2) one of the best post tandems in the entire country. Guard Daniella Aronsky is once again a steadying presence and willing facilitator and two other newcomers in the backcourt — juniors Sydney Shaw and Joey Delancy, both of whom already have Division I scholarship offers — give the Patriots five players averaging at least 10 points per game.
With five of the best players in all of South Florida, American Heritage is the No. 14 team in the nation, according to MaxPreps, and one win away from a rare four-peat. The Patriots will return to the RP Funding Center on Saturday to face Melbourne Palm Bay in the 5A championship.
“As you can see, we’re playing, we’re passing, we’re penetrating, we’re inside, we’re outside,” coach Greg Farias said. “That’s what I like about this team. It’s well-rounded.”
American Heritage’s semifinal tilt was never in doubt. The Patriots jumped out to a 7-0 lead, shut out the Tornadoes (24-5) for the first 4:05 and held Clearwater to just four points in the first quarter. American Heritage led 14-4 at the end of the first and its lead ballooned to 37-12 at halftime.
The Tornadoes shot just 4 of 11 from the field in the first half — 36.4 percent — and committed 16 turnovers while the Patriots built an insurmountable lead with suffocating defense.
“It just gives us total speed of all five,” Farias said. “In the last previous years, we really just had the twins — they’re athletic, they can move back and forth — but this year the five have come together at the right time.”
On offense, the new balance was just as evident. With Clearwater focused on the Wyches, Shaw exploded for 16 points in the first half and led all scorers with 20, while Delancy chipped in 10 points and five assists.
While Taliyah Wyche battled foul trouble and finished with only four points, Tatyana Wyche still finished with 14 points and a team-high four rebounds.
“We have much more talent,” she said. “Last year, we always had hustle, but now we have hustle, talent, IQ. We have everything we need.”
With one more win, the Patriots can become only the 19th team to win four state titles and move into a tie for the third longest championship streak in Florida High School Athletic Association history.
For the Wyches and Aronsky, it would cap already historic legacies at American Heritage — even if they aren’t necessarily the stars in the title game.
“In your legacy when you’re done, they’re not going to look back 10, 20 years and see how much you scored,” Farias said. “They’re going to know that you were the four-time state champion at American Heritage.”