By Dave Brousseau
LAKELAND – It’s official, the American Heritage 51-33 victory over Pine Forest for the Class 5A girls state basketball championship was a Wyche-wash.
The Patriots 6-foot-3 junior twin towers of Taliyah and Tatyana Wyche combined for 47 points and 24 rebounds to lead their team to a third straight title at the RP Funding Center on Saturday.
“The game plan was to feed the beast inside,” said American Heritage coach Greg Farias. “We just kept those girls inside. Today was Taliyah’s turn to shine inside.”
Taliyah was so dominant in the paint she personally nearly defeated the Eagle all to herself. She finished with 31 points and 11 rebounds. Tatyana added 16 points and 13 rebounds.
“I felt like I was going to get the ball a lot,” said Taliyah. “This was very special because we were at state.”
The Patriots became the third Broward County girls’ team to win at least three consecutive state championships. Dillard and South Broward each have won four straight titles.
In looking back at the Patriots (25-4) three state titles, in each of the championships they held their opponent to 40 or fewer points with a winner margin of victory no fewer than 16 points.
By the completion of three quarters Taliyah was personally leading Pine Forest 25-21.
Taliyah and her sister Tatyana combined for all 14 first quarter points for the Patriots to earn a 14-7 lead after the first quarter.
“Their size got the best of us,” said Pine Forest coach Christina Godwin. “The just on us early and you can’t play in a championship game playing catchup.”
When the first half was complete the Wyche twins officially led Pine Forest 26-12 all by themselves as the combined for all the Patriots first half points.
The Wyche sisters were so dominate in the first half shooting 60-percent from the floor (12 of 20). The twins also outrebounded Pine Forest 15 to 11.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the group of girls and the way they played today,” said Farias.
AMERICAN HERITAGE 51, PINE FOREST 33
PF (21-4): Luckey 1-0-2, Purifoy 5-5-16, Santiago 1-0-3, Barnes-Malishan 2-0-4, Bryant 0-1-1, Ladd 3-0-6.
AH (25-4): Tal. Wyche 13-5-31, Stubbs 1-1-3, Tat. Wyche 6-4-16, Aronsky 0-1-1.
3-pointers: Purifoy, Santiago, Half: AH 26-12