Girls basketball: Class 5A state semifinal preview

Girls basketball state semifinals

All games at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland.  Admission is $10 in advance, $13 on day of the event. Parking is $10.

Class 5A

Clearwater (24-4) vs. Plantation American Heritage (23-2), 4

How they got here: Clearwater d. Robinson 61-36, d. Jefferson 54-34, d. Naples Barron Collier 49-45; Plantation American Heritage d. Fort Pierce Westwood 68-23, d. Okeechobee 57-27, d. Miami Norland 42-29.  

Top players: Clearwater: F/G Liv Fuller, So.(13.3 points, 9.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists per game); G Beckham Hockley, Fr. (14.6 points, 3.0 assists per game); G Ace Sturdivant, Fr. (9.3 points, 3.7 assists, 3.0 rebounds per game); C Kyleigh Welsh, Jr. (7.5 rebounds, 4.4 blocks per game). Plantation American Heritage: G Sydney Shaw, Jr., (16.8 points, 4.6 assists, 2.1 steals per game); F/C Tatyana Wyche, Sr. (10.6 points, 12.3, rebounds, 3.5 blocks per game); F/G Joey Delancey, Jr. (11.5 points, 7.5 assists, 4.7 rebounds per game).  

Outlook: Though Clearwater won a conference title last season, it missed out on the playoffs, which were based on a ranking system for at-large bids. The Tornadoes vowed to make the postseason this time, even putting together a challenging schedule to get ready for the caliber of teams they would face in regionals. All four of Clearwater’s losses were to playoff teams, including two that reached the state semifinals. Those early season setbacks eventually paid off. The Tornadoes enter today’s game on a 17-game win streak and are in the state semifinals for the first time since 2007. To reach the final, they have to get past Miami Country Day, which is ranked No. 1 in 5A, No. 5 overall in the state and No. 14 nationally by MaxPreps. The Patriots’ have won three straight state titles, currently the longest streak in Florida. Their only loss to a state opponent this season was against Montverde, the nation’s top-ranked team according to MaxPreps. American Heritage guard Sydney Shaw, a junior, is a four-star recruit and senior twin forwards Taliyah and Tatyana Wyche, both 6-foot-2, have signed to play for Florida next season.