Photos by Robert Smith

Story by Robert Wilson

CANTON — Senior Emmi Harkins hit an off-balance layup with 7 seconds to play to give Leake Academy a 67-65 victory over defending Overall champion Pillow Thursday night in the Canton Academy Girls Tournament in an early-season showdown of the two of the top teams in the MAIS this season.

Harkins finished with 21 points for Leake, 2-0. Miriam Prince, a 5-foot-8 sophomore guard, had a team-high and career-high 29 points, 21 in the first half, for Leake.

Leake, coached by Amanda Hatch, jumped out to an 18-point lead in the first half and led 43-32 at halftime.

Pillow stormed back to close the gap to 55-48 after three quarters and took the lead 63-62 with 2 minutes, 45 seconds to play. Junior Sarah Presley Howard made a 10-foot bank shot with 47 seconds to play for a 65-65 tie. Leake then played for one shot and Harkins made the game-winner with 7 seconds to play. Pillow got the ball down the court, but lost the ball out of bounds with 2 seconds to play.

Senior Kaylee Jones had a game-high and career-high 32 points, 23 in the first half for Pillow, 1-1. Howard had 11 points, 10 in the second half.

Leake’s win denied Pillow coach Durwin Carpenter his 1,077th win. Carpenter, who is in his 47th season coaching overall, 27th at Pillow, is the winningest active girls basketball coach in Mississippi. He trails only Doyle Wolverton, who retired from Leake in 2014 with 1,245 victories, in career wins in Mississippi history.

Carpenter won his fourth Overall title a year ago when the Lady Mustangs finished 28-11 and defeated Jackson Prep 57-37 in the championship game.

Leake finished 32-3 last season. Leake was eliminated by Simpson in the Class 4A state quarterfinals.

Leake’s next game is Tuesday at Madison-Ridgeland Academy. Pillow’s next game is Tuesday at North Delta.