Photo by Brad Bridges

By Robert Wilson

Photo by Robert Smith

The Leake Academy girls basketball team set a Mississippi record by making 20 3-pointers in an 87-40 victory over Memphis St. Agnes Academy Tuesday afternoon at Holiday Shootout at Marshall Academy in Holly Springs.

And Leake set the record without its best player, senior point guard Miriam Prince.

Leake broke the Mississippi record held by Pontotoc High, which made 17 3-pointers against H.W. Byers Nov. 21, 2013, according to the national high school record book.

The national record is held by Guy-Perkins High from Arkansas, which made 34 against Little Rock Walnut Valley Christian Nov. 4, 1999.

With Prince and her 19.9 points per game scoring average on the bench – she needed a rest after playing five games in eight days (Prince had been going nonstop since the season began after recovering from surgery 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 tied for a team-high 16 points), sophomore Caroline Cheatham (a career-high 15 points) and senior Morgan Freeny (12 points) had four 3-pointers each. Sophomore Anna Morgan Young, junior Abigail Graham, senior McKinley Peoples and sophomore Elizabeth Smith had one 3-pointer each. Cheatham’s 3-pointer with 7 minutes, 12 seconds to play in the fourth quarter broke the record. Graham hit No. 19, then Smith hit No. 20 with 2:20 to play. Cheatham, Young, Graham, Peoples and Smith came off the bench to contribute to the record. Maxey was starting for Prince.

Photo by Robert Smith

Leake made 20 of 42 shots from 3-point range, 47.6 percent.

“We were forced to play a lot of games this summer without Miriam, so we’ve had to do it before,” said Leake coach Amanda Hatch, who has a 296-32 record – an amazing 90.2 percent winning percentage – in her ninth season at Leake and has 411 career wins in her 14th season as a head coach. She has taken Leake to the Overall title game four of the past five seasons, winning it in 2021.

“We certainly miss her on the floor when she’s not there, but she’s a great teammate and assistant coach on the sideline. It’s definitely a different dynamic, but my seniors have so much experience that they’ve handled it really well. The other girls have really stepped up during her absence the last seven days, and today was no exception. Everyone shot the ball with confidence, hustled after offensive rebounds to create second chance opportunities for kick out 3s, and turned great defense and rebounding into easy transition layups and 3s. The game was a lot of fun, especially the second half when we were getting closer to the record. Everyone was really excited about the possibility of breaking the record when we hit the 13th made 3 in the third quarter and all were rooting for their teammates to take 3-point shots. There was a lot of energy and cheering on teammates as we collectively counted down how many more 3s were needed to break the record. And the best part of it is that each girl on the team got to be a part of it by getting on the floor in the game today, whether it was actually making a 3, or getting an assist, or just being part of an offensive group that hit one of the 20 3s.”

Leake, which led 52-17 at halftime, improved to 12-0 and has won 32 of its last 34 games. Leake, playing without Prince, defeated Fayette, Tenn. Academy 61-52 Monday at Marshall Academy. It was the least margin of victory this season. The next closest game is a 60-47 decision over Copiah Academy Nov. 2 at Copiah. Leake played its first seven games on the road.

Photo by Robert Smith

Leake’s next game is against Canton Academy Monday at home in Madden. Leake has won 66 consecutive home games and has not lost since 2017. Hatch said Prince isn’t expected to play against Canton.

Prince is expected to be back when Leake plays host to Hartfield Academy Tuesday in Madden in a showdown of two of the favorites to win the MAIS Overall Tournament championship. Leake returns its top seven players from last year’s Overall Tournament runner-up team. Hartfield returns three starters from last year’s team, which lost to Leake 52-49 in the Overall semifinals. The Lady Hawks, under first-year coach Mark Alexander, won their first nine games before to losing to Memphis Home Education Association Saturday at Jackson Prep.