By Robert Wilson
No college has offered Leake Academy’s Miriam Prince a basketball scholarship yet, but if the 5-foot-8 junior guard keeps scoring like she did Tuesday night they will be coming soon.
Prince scored a career-high 40 points to lead defending MAIS Overall Tournament champion Leake Academy to a 61-51, Class 5A, District 2 victory at Simpson Academy.
Not since former Ole Miss player Susan Byrd scored 56 points in 1989 as anyone done what Prince did for the tradition rich Leake program, which boasts seven players who have scored more than 2,000 career points, led by Byrd with 3,187.
Prince now has 1,938 career points and will likely break the 2,000-point barrier soon. With more than a year go to, Prince has a shot of reaching second in school history in career points.
She made 12 of 22 shots from the field, 3 of 7 from 3-point range, and 13 of 14 from the free throw line with 5 steals, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocked shots Tuesday against Simpson. Leake played without starting guard Morgan Freeny, who is out with a shoulder injury. Prince scored nine points in the first quarter, 14 in the second quarter, nine in the third quarter and eight in the fourth quarter.
Prince is the second MAIS player to score 40 points this season. Centreville Academy senior guard Savannah Hailey scored 43 and 42 points this season.
Prince is averaging 19.2 points, 4.9 assists, 3.9 rebounds, and 3.1 steals for 29-2 Leake, which begins playoffs this week. Leake will play the winner of Lamar and Winston Thursday in the district tournament semifinals at Winston in Louisville.
“The sky is the limit for Miriam,” said Leake coach Amanda Hatch, who is Amanda Gulley when she played at Leake and scored 2,470 career points from 1995-2000, fourth highest in school history. “She has the ball handling skills, scoring ability, court vision, defensive awareness, understanding of the game, and incredible work ethic that will really make her a great college player at one of the highest levels. Because of the time spends in the gym and the quality of work she puts in, Miriam has greatly improved each season, and I know she will only continue to get better and better.
“Against Simpson, Miriam really controlled the tempo of the game. Her pressure on-ball defense forced several turnovers. She created for herself and her teammates all night long. The last few minutes, Miriam’s ball handling and made free throws were crucial in securing the win (Prince made 7 of 8 free throws in the fourth quarter, including the last six).”
“Miriam is one of the best I’ve ever seen,” Simpson coach Linda Dear said. “You take away the 3 and she kills you on the drive. I really enjoy watching her play…when she’s not playing against us. The thing I like best about her is her personality – always smiling. I love the kid. I know that I’m going to get a big hug before and after the game.”