Since the school opened its doors more than a half-century ago, Plantation American Heritage has been well-known for its athletic success in just about every sport. To the tune of 55 total team state championships.
But one of the few programs without a banner hanging in the gym was the girls’ basketball team. You can now check off that box after Thursday night.
That’s when the Lady Patriots, playing in their first-ever state title game, took maximum advantage, jumping out to an early lead and never looking back on the way to a 59-33 rout of Ponte Vedra in the Class 6A state championship game at the RP Funding Center.
“To do this means the world to us,” said Heritage head coach Greg Farias whose team finished 24-7. “Winning a state title was a goal that we had set after we got up here last year and, the whole atmosphere of just being happy to be here was just too much for us and things didn’t go well. (Heritage lost to Jacksonville Ribault 66-37 in a semifinal). But over the summer we went to work and set ourselves up with a really tough schedule which ultimately helped us get over the hump this week.”
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It was evident from the opening tip that Heritage, led by their two bigs, Femi Funeus and Tyaliah Willis, were going to be able to dominate the paint over the outmatched and outsized Sharks.
And that’s exactly what happened as the Patriots took a 36-22 lead to the locker room at halftime and, with Ponte Vedra still hanging around at 39-26, went on a 14-0 tear bridging the end of the third and beginning of the fourth quarter to end the issue. Funeus led all scorers with 19 points while pulling down seven rebounds and Willis led the way underneath pulling down 13 boards along with 14 points.
“This is an absolutely amazing feeling, our first girls basketball banner up there in the gym. What an honor to be a part of something so special,” said Funeus, a Seton Hall commit. “We kind of felt early on we were going to be able to dominate in the paint.”
Said Farias: “It doesn’t matter how many points you score in a game, it’s the banner that counts and when that banner goes up, it’s not going to say how many points you scored, it’s just going to have your name on it and we’re privileged to be a part of something for the first time.”
AH (24-7): Funeus 19, Willis 14, T. Stubbs 9, D. Stubbs 7, Aronsky 3, Edwards 3, Wyche 2, Sims 2. PV: (24-6) Tibbits 10, Mayer 10, Chappell 6, Oates 3, Wagner 3, Bing 1. Three pointers: T. Stubbs 3, Mayer 2, Aronsky, Edwards, D. Stubbs, Oates, Chappell, Tibbits. Rebounds: Willis 13. Assists: D. Stubbs 4. Steals: Funeus 6. Half: AH 36-22.