Early Sunday afternoon, Pine Forest girls basketball coach Chris Godwin was cooking chili and enjoying the waning hours of the weekend with her family.
But in the back of her mind, Godwin couldn't help but be excited.
The prep girls basketball season opens this week, and with a bevy of returning starters -- including senior standouts Tia Sanders and Jayla King, who will sign a scholarship with the University of South Florida on Wednesday -- Godwin is looking forward to seeing what her girls can do on the court.
"I'm ecstatic," Godwin said. "I've got everybody coming back. I've got two sophomores who started last year, and we have three seniors. And, of course, Jayla and Tia have been starters for me all four years of high school."
King, a 5-foot-10 forward and returning FABC Class 6A all-state selection, averaged 22 points, 10 rebounds and five steals a game last year. Sanders, a guard, averaged 10.2 points, 3.5 assists and four rebounds . The two were freshmen when they helped the Eagles to the 2010 Class 5A state semifinals.
Point guard Ty Purifoy, center Britney Snowden and senior power forward Jasmine McCants also are back. The five players helped lead the Eagles to the Region 1-6A quarterfinals last season.
"They all want to win, get to state, win districts," Godwin said. "Jayla and Tia know what it's like to go to state, so they want to go back again. And we've got a good group to get there. But we have to make it through districts and regionals first."
Pine Forest is in District 1-6A, along with defending district champion Pensacola High, which advanced to the state semifinals last year for the fifth season in a row.
Last year, the Eagles lost in double-overtime in the district title game against PHS. Then, in the region quarterfinals, Pine Forest took District 2-6A champion Choctawhatchee to two overtimes before losing, 76-73.
"We always have a good district to go up against," Godwin said. "We want to get back down to the state tournament, but like I told the girls, we have to play one game at a time and learn from each one."