By Robert Wilson
Defending MAIS Overall champion Leake Academy goes for its 55th consecutive home victory and its 35th straight win overall Tuesday night when it plays host to traditional power Pillow Academy and coach Durwin Carpenter, the winningest active girls basketball coach in Mississippi and second in the nation.
It is the the first time Pillow visited Leake in basketball.
Leake, 7-0, hasn’t lost at home since Nov. 16, 2017 to Kirk. Leake hasn’t lost a game since a 59-49 defeat Dec. 12 at Jackson Prep last season. Leake has three starters returning from last year’s 37-2 team, which finished on a 27-game winning streak. Leake has given Pillow its only loss this season, a 62-43 decision at the Canton Academy Tournament.
Pillow, 4-1, lost its top six players from last year’s team, which finished 23-6 and lost to Jackson Academy in the Overall quarterfinals, but Carpenter is back and his experience. He has won 1,113 games in his 48th season as a head coach and ranks second in the nation among active coaches in victories and 10th all time in career wins, second in Mississippi behind Doyle Wolverton, who won 1,249 games from 1975-2014 at Leake and now Leake’s court is named after him.
Carpenter, 70, trails only Lamar Rogers of Clarkrange, Tenn., who started this year with 1,270 wins and began in 1976 among active coaches. Carpenter has won 743 games in his 28th season at Pillow and won 357 games in 20 seasons at Central Holmes Academy. The Grenada Rundle High, Holmes Community College and Delta State alumnus has won four MAIS Overall championships, the last one in 2020, and 10 state titles.
Leake coach Amanda Hatch hasn’t won as many games at Carpenter, but she’s been very successful, especially at Leake.
Hatch has a 254-28 record – an amazing 90.0 percent winning percentage in her eighth season at Leake and a 371-90 record overall in 12 seasons, the first five at Jackson Prep. Hatch won her first Overall last season and has taken Leake to the Overall finals three times in the last four years. When Hatch was a junior in 1999, Leake finished 46-0 and won the Overall title under Wolverton, one of five Overall titles he won. Hatch was a part of the team that holds Leake’s longest winning streak, 63 games. They won 46 straight in 1999 and the first 17 in 1999-2000 season.
Leake is led by Miriam Prince, one of the top junior guards in Mississippi who is averaging 17.1 points per game. Pillow is led by senior guard Madeline Mattox, who averages 17 points per game.