By Robert Wilson
The Leake Academy girls’ basketball team set a Mississippi record by hitting 20 3-point wins in an 87-40 win over Memphis St. Agnes Academy in Tuesday afternoon’s Holiday Shootout at Marshall Academy in Holly Springs.
And Leake set the record without his top player, senior point guard Miriam Prince.
Leake broke the Mississippi record held by Pontotoc High scoring 17 3-pointers against HW Byers on November 21, 2013 according to the national high school record book.
The national record is held by Arkansas’ Guy-Perkins High, who scored 34 against Little Rock Walnut Valley Christian on November 4, 1999.
With Prince and her 19.9 points-per-game average on the bench, she needed a break after playing five games in eight days (Prince has been on the road non-stop since the start of the season after recovering from surgery on July 13). to repair a fracture in one of her lower legs) — Leake made four 3-pointers in the first quarter, eight in the second quarter, five in the third quarter and three in the fourth quarter.
Seniors Emeri Warren and Grace Maxey (who were up for a team-high 16 points), sophomore Caroline Cheatham (a career-high 15 points), and senior Morgan Freeny (12 points) each had four 3-pointers. Sophomore Anna Morgan Young, junior Abigail Graham, senior McKinley Peoples and sophomore Elizabeth Smith each had a 3-pointer. Cheatham’s 3-pointer with 7 minutes, 12 seconds to play in the fourth quarter broke the record. Graham hit No. 19, then Smith beat No. 20 2:20 to play. Cheatham, Young, Graham, Peoples and Smith came off the bench to contribute to the record. Maxey started for Prince.
Leake made 20 of 42 shots from 3-point range, 47.6 percent.
“We’ve had to play a lot of games this summer without Miriam, so we’ve had to do that earlier,” said Leake coach Amanda Hatch, who is a 296-32 record — a staggering 90.2 percent win rate — in her ninth year season at Leake and has 411 career wins in her 14th seasonth season as head coach. She has guided Leake to the overall title game in four of the last five seasons, winning it in 2021.
“We certainly miss her on the court when she’s not there, but she’s a great teammate and assistant coach on the touchline. It’s definitely a different dynamic, but my seniors have so much experience that they’re really good at it. The other girls have really improved in their absence over the past seven days and today was no exception. Everyone shot the ball with confidence, rushed for offensive rebounds to create second-chance opportunities for kick-out 3s, and turned great defense and rebounds into easy transition layups and 3s. The game was a lot of fun, especially in the second half when we were getting close to the record. Everyone was really excited about the possibility of breaking the record when we got to 13th made 3 in the third quarter and everyone was fired up for their teammates to make 3 point shots. There was a lot of energy and cheering for our teammates as we counted down together how many 3s were left to break the record. And the best part is that every girl on the team was able to be a part of it by getting down in the game today, whether it was a 3, getting an assist, or just being part of an offensive group, the one who hit 20 3s.”
Leading 52-17 at halftime, Leake improved to 12-0 and has won 32 of his last 34 games. Leake, playing without Prince, defeated Fayette, Tenn. Academy 61-52 on Monday at Marshall Academy. It was the smallest lead this season. The next closest game is a 60-47 decision over Copiah Academy on Nov. 2 in Copiah. Leake played his first seven games away.
Leake’s next game is at home in Madden against Canton Academy on Monday. Leake has won 66 straight home games and hasn’t lost since 2017. Hatch said Prince is unlikely to play Canton.
Prince is expected to be back when Leake hosts Hartfield Academy in Madden on Tuesday in a showdown between two of the favorites to win the MAIS All-Overall Championship. Leake brings back his top seven players from last year’s overall tournament runners-up team. Hartfield brings back three starters from last year’s team, which lost to Leake 52-49 in the overall semifinals. The Lady Hawks won their first nine games under Mark Alexander as a freshman year before losing to the Memphis Home Education Association in Jackson Prep on Saturday.