Four-year starters get final shot at state championship

Four-year starters get final shot at state championship


Four-year starters get final shot at state championship


Though it is far removed from recent memory, the Pine Forest Eagles can remember their last loss — a 53-34 defeat by Orlando Edgewater in the 2014 Class 6A state championship game.

Twenty-seven consecutive wins later, the Eagles and coach Chris Godwin are headed back to Lakeland for the 6A state final four, but this time they won’t be content with just an appearance.

“We’ve got a little saying around school now, we’ve got some ‘unfinished business,’ ” Godwin said. “It’s something principal (Frank) Murphy started. He wants us to go down to Lakeland and finish the job that we started. What a great season it would be for the girls, myself, Pine Forest High and Pensacola if we could go down there and win it all. We’ve got to take it one game at a time though.”

The first obstacle for Pine Forest will be perhaps the most impressive 6A team during postseason play — the Winter Haven Blue Devils (28-3), who knocked off three-time state champion Edgewater 62-48 in the region semifinals.

Though Pine Forest holds the better overall record, Winter Haven has advanced to the state semifinals by outscoring opponents 205-117 through three postseason games.

Another advantage Winter Haven holds is its proximity to Lakeland, with the Blue Devils having to travel only 20 miles to play in today’s 1:30 p.m. (Pensacola time) contest.

“We’re not going to get any home cooking,” Godwin said. “But Winter Haven puts their shoes on just like we do. We just gotta go down there and play our game.”

Purifoy’s work ethic continues to pay off

The Eagles head into Lakeland loaded with experience, led by four-year starters Britney Snowden and Ty Purifoy.

The duo’s bond has set a leadership standard for the Eagles, which has helped propel Pine Forest to three consecutive district championships.

“(Ty and I have) been best friends since middle school,” Snowden said. “It started on the court at Bellview Middle School. We’ve had plenty of fallouts, but we always end up back as best friends.”

Snowden and Purifoy combined for 26 points in the Region 1-6A finals and will seek to continue their strong play in the state semifinals.

“Last year when we won the regional finals, everybody was crying,” Snowden said referring to the team’s joy. “This year, you hardly saw any tears. We have higher expectations this time.”

And while Godwin continues to draw maximum effort from her co-captains, she realizes that Purifoy and Snowden are playing their final minutes as Pine Forest Eagles.

“I’m gonna miss them,” Godwin said, referring to Snowden and Purifoy. “I always stress it takes a team to win. But we’ve had great leadership with those two. They’ve done a great job with everybody on our team. They have just been great to coach.”

On tap

Who: Pine Forest Eagles (27-0) vs. Winter Haven (25-3).

What: Class 6A state semifinals.

When: 1:30 p.m. (Pensacola time).

Where: Lakeland Center.

Starting five PF: G Ty Purifoy (9.5 PPG, 8 APG); G Tylan Carter (6.4 PPG); G Laneisha Jeans (9 PPG); F Jymetrea Jones (10 PPG, 4 RPG); F Britney Snowden (14.2 PPG, 9.5 RPG); WH — G Ly’Na Battles (8.9 PPG; 8.1 RPG); G Shantrice Solomon (12.1 PPG, 6.7 APG); G Shaterrika O’Neal (13.2 PPG, 7.1 RPG); F Tatiana Thompson (9.8 PPG, 10 RPG); C Maddison Wells (10.0 PPG, 12 RPG).


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