Sponsored by Super Shakes and Jackson Academy

Photos by Hays Collins
Story by Robert Wilson

FLOWOOD – The Jackson Academy girls held defending Class 5A state champion Jackson Prep scoreless for the last 7 minutes, 27 seconds and scored the last nine points for a come-from-behind, 35-34 victory Saturday afternoon for the MAIS Class 5A state championship at Jackson Prep.

Prep led 34-26 after Olivia Smith made a 3-pointer with 7:27 to play, but JA forced Prep into six turnovers and Prep missed its last five shots from the field, including the game-winner, which bounced off the rim at the buzzer.

JA improved to 29-2 and won its eighth straight game. Prep dropped to 23-4 and lost to JA for the second time in three meetings. Prep won 50-47 in overtime on Jan. 22 at JA and it broke a 10-game winning streak for JA and it was only the second conference loss at home in the past five seasons. JA won 33-29 Feb. 9 at Prep to end Prep’s 17-game winning streak.

Prep beat JA 45-35 in last year’s 5A state semifinals to end a 16-game losing streak to JA. Prep went on to win the 5A state title over Madison-Ridgeland Academy and finished second to Pillow in the Overall Tournament.

Both teams advance to next week’s Overall Tournament, but unlike previous years when the entire tournament was played at Mississippi College in Clinton, the first two rounds will be played at home sites and the semifinals and finals at Hartfield Academy in Flowood.

JA plays defending Overall champion Pillow Tuesday at home. Pillow, 23-5, is the third-place team from Class 4A and defeated Hillcrest Christian 59-48 Saturday. Pillow played its third game without leading scorer and Mississippi College signee Kaylee Jones, who suffered a season-ending knee injury Feb. 13 at Pillow. JA edged Pillow 32-31 at JA in the season opener in the only meeting this season. If JA beats Pillow, the Lady Raiders will play host to the Desoto, Ark.-Centreville Academy winner Friday at JA.

Prep travels to Class 3A runner-up Bowling Green, La., Tuesday. Bowling Green is in Franklinton, La, 131 miles from Prep about a two-hour trip. Bowling Green lost to Clinton Christian 44-36 in the 3A state championship game. If Prep defeats Bowling Green, Prep will travel to defending 4A state champion Leake Friday. Prep defeated Leake 59-49 Dec. 12 at Prep. It was one of two losses this season for Leake, which has won 24 straight games since that loss. Leake has won 51 consecutive home games and hasn’t lost in its home gym since Kirk beat them Nov. 16, 2017.

JA coach Jan Sojourner, the second winningest active and third winningest overall girls basketball coach in Mississippi history, won her 987th career game Saturday in her 41st season. She has 885 wins in 36 seasons at JA with an MAIS record six Overall titles.

Things looked doubtful for Sojourner and her Lady Raiders in the third quarter. Prep went on a 14-0 run to take a 29-18 lead and held JA scoreless for the first 4 and ½ minutes of the third quarter.

Senior Natalie Thompson and senior and Northwest Mississippi Community College signee McKinna Smith led JA with nine points each. Senior Emily Thompson had a game-high 10 rebounds.

Senior Olivia Sasser had a game-high 20 points for Prep.