Eagles’ floor general — point guard Ty Purifoy — has become addicted to raising the bar during her time at Pine Forest.
The four-year starter has helped lead the Eagles to the postseason each year, capturing three consecutive district championships, two consecutive regional championships and back-to-back appearances in the Class 6A FHSAA state semifinals.
This year, Purifoy and the experienced Eagles have set their sights on taking it one step further and winning a 6A state championship, starting Friday against Winter Haven in the state semifinals.
“We are excited … but we stay calm about it,” Purifoy said. “We’ve been to the state championships before so we know what to expect. Last year, we were focused on getting there. This year, we are focused on winning and capitalizing on the opportunity.”
And Purifoy’s success at Pine Forest certainly hasn’t been due to luck.
Her speed and agility is outstanding. Her passing ability and vision can create uncontested shots for her teammates. Her tenacious defense causes turnovers and fast-break opportunities for the Eagles, time-and-time again.
And on top of that, she holds an unstoppable work ethic.
“I started playing basketball in seventh grade. … I wasn’t worth a crap back then,” she said laughing. “But I gave it a try. I started working out every day.
“A lot of people always told me how quick I was. But that wasn’t my priority. I just wanted to work to be better than the next person.”
Surrounded by a family of athletes, Purifoy’s first high school sport was volleyball — a game she picked up from her mother.
Purifoy’s older sister, Shamina Hunter, plays basketball at Pensacola State College after a stellar career at PHS.
Jawan Purifoy — Purifoy’s brother — plays football and baseball at Catholic High.
As for Purifoy’s younger siblings, she has no doubt that the two will carry on the tradition.
“My younger sister Tahnyija, who everyone calls ‘Lil’ Mama’ plays basketball at Sherwood Middle,” Purifoy said. “She’s gonna be better. She works even harder than me. My younger brother ‘Doobie’ (Taveon) plays everything — baseball, basketball, football and soccer. He wants to do it all. It’s all about sports for us.”
But aside from her immediate family, Purifoy has formed another family with her Pine Forest teammates and coach Chris Godwin.
“Coach Godwin and I have a really good bond,” Purifoy said. “She always told me that I’m her coach on the floor. What she’s thinking I’ll say, or what I’m thinking she’ll say. Its like déjà vu … sometimes she says something on the sidelines that I just said on the court.”
Godwin reciprocated Purifoy’s warmth.
“She’s been a leader for the team,” Godwin said. “I can tell her what I want in a game and she will deliver the message on the court. I always stress that it takes a team to win and that everyone has their role on the team.
“But I’ve gotten great leadership from Ty and Britney Snowden (four-year starter). They have done a great job with leadership for everybody on the team.”