Girls varsity basketball reclaims state championship

in Game Coverage/Sports by

Coming back from last year’s one-point loss to Mainland, the varsity girls basketball team held a “setback to comeback” mindset all season with their eyes on the prize of reclaiming the state championship. March 8,  the girls team did just that; under the coaching of Greg Farias, they rematched Mainland and walked away with a 60-55 win and the gold medal.

Getting to this point was no easy feat. The team had to get through regionals first, which included taking down Jensen Beach (82-29), Norland (61-21), Lincoln Park (75-40) and Port Charlotte (63-24).

“I am so proud of my girls; they’ve worked really hard. We proved that hard work pays off and believed in each other and in the system,” Coach Farias said.

The ultimate battle came when it was time to face Mainland once again in the state championship. The game had spectators on the edge of their seats the whole game. At halftime, the Patriots trailed by one with the score 22-21 in Mainland’s favor. The score remained close the entire game, as whenever one team scored, the other would come back just as strong to keep the tally even. At the end of regulation, both teams were tied at 49 points, launching the game into overtime. 

The Patriots dominated the scene during overtime. Mainland made the first basket, but Heritage was not going down without a fight as sophomore Taniyah Davis returned the favor with two three pointers. Sophomore Jasleen Green contributed a basket and two free throws to make the score 59-53, and freshman Yinuo Wang added one more free throw to reach the total of 60. Overtime ended a minute later and the Patriots emerged victorious. 

There are many elements of this victory that make it such an impressive feat. For one, there are zero seniors on the starting lineup, meaning almost the entire team will return next year. There is a variety of girls leading the statbook: Green leads in points with 481, closely followed by Davis with 422 on the season. Junior Dezuray McGill and senior Trya Byle lead in rebounds with 202 and 134 respectively. 

Another exciting part of this win is the fact that this is the girls’ sixth straight title in seven years: a win streak that is one for the record books. 

“The team’s future goal is to continue to grow. I plan to develop these young ladies [as I] prepare them for college and for life, on and off to court, every day,” Coach Farias said. “As a coach, the teaching never stops and we work year-round.”

The girls huddle prior to their big match against Mainland in the state championship. Calm and collected, they knew they were ready after taking down multiple note-worthy opponents. “[We beat] local powerhouses St. Thomas, Westminster Christian and Dillard.  We also had one of the toughest schedules for girls basketball in the state,” Coach Farias said. (Photo/Greg Farias)

The girls celebrate their hard-earned victory and their sixth state title in seven years. (Photo/Greg Farias)

Zoe Horwitz, a junior at American Heritage, returns to the Patriot Post for her third year as the Sports Editor and Assistant Editor-In-Chief. Besides reading and writing, she spends her time playing with her dog or tutoring younger students through Learn with Peers, a non-profit organization she helped found in 2020. During her freshman year, she co-founded FALIA (Food Allergy/Intolerance Awareness) at school, a club that advocates for those with food allergies. Zoe also plays lacrosse, as she plays for a club team and American Heritage girls varsity lacrosse team. Zoe is very excited to be contributing to the Patriot Post.