By Robert Wilson

The Leake Academy girls’ four-year consecutive home game winning streak is still alive.


Senior guard Morgan Freeny made a layup with 0.4 seconds to play give Leake a 31-30 victory over Presbyterian Christian School Friday night in the MAIS Overall Tournament quarterfinals at Leake in Madden for Leake’s 65th consecutive home victory.

Defending MAIS Overall champion Leake, the No. 1 team from Class 5A, improved to 36-3 to meets Hartfield Academy, 28-6 and the No. 2 team from Class 6A, in the semifinals Monday at 1 p.m. at Mississippi College in Clinton. Hartfield defeated Class 4A state champion Lamar Christian 64-31 in the quarterfinals Friday at Purvis. Leake and Hartfield have played once this season. Leake rallied from a 14-point deficit in the first half and edged Hartfield 57-54 behind junior guard Miriam Prince’s 26 points to win its 33rd consecutive game. This is also a rematch of last year’s Overall championship game when Leake defeated Hartfield 39-36 at Hartfield. Presbyterian Christian, third place team from Class 6A, finished 27-12.

Photo by Robert Smith

Leake almost didn’t make it to next week. Leake trailed by four points with 2 minutes to play. Leake sophomore forward Katye Jones made a free throw, Leake forced a turnover, missed a layup, forced another turnover and Leake junior guard Miriam Prince drove for a layup to cut the lead to one. PCS missed a free throw attempt with 24 seconds to play. Leake called timeout with 10 seconds. Prince drove into the lane and passed to Freeny, who drove in for the layup and was fouled with 0.4 seconds to play. Freeny missed the free throw and time ran out. Freeny’s last-second shot was her only points of the game.

“The best feeling was watching the ball slowly roll in at the last second,” Freeny said. “All glory to God for letting my team and I shine on such a big stage.”

Leake hasn’t lost a home game since Nov. 16, 2017 to Kirk.

“I thought we gave great effort throughout the game and didn’t panic,” said Leake coach Amanda Hatch, who won her 400th career game in 13 seasons. She has a 283-31 record – an amazing 91.1 winning percentage – in eight seasons at Leake.

“Our girls had an incredible will to win against a superb PCS team. We got off to a great start, thanks to great shooting from Miriam and (junior forward) Emeri (Warren), then PCS really turned up their defense. They made it hard for us to get any good looks. KK (Jones) and Miriam made three layups for our only points in the second quarter.”

Prince finished with a game-high 16 points. Senior Emilee Mcnair and junior Meyah Doyle led PCS with nine points each.

Now, Leake must turn its attention to the rematch with Hartfield, this time at Mississippi College. The last two meetings were at Hartfield, both of them came down to the final minute and Leake came away victorious. 

In the frantic last minute of this year’s game, Hartfield’s 6-1 sophomore Nyla Hooten scored a rebound bucket after Hartfield missed three shots in the lane for a 54-54 tie with 40 seconds to play. Then Leake junior Allen Kaye Wilcox scored on a rebound shot for a 56-54 Leake lead with 30 seconds to play. After a Hartfield missed shot, Leake ran out the clock before Prince added one free throw with 3 seconds to play.

Photo by Robert Smith

Leake won its first Overall since 2009 with a 39-36 victory over Hartfield a year ago. Emmi Harkins scored 24 points to lead Leake, which finished 37-2 and won its sixth Overall in school history, one with Hatch and five with Doyle Wolverton, the winningest high school girls basketball coach in Mississippi history. It was the third time in the past four seasons Leake had made it to the Overall finals, losing to Kirk in 2018 and Lamar in 2019. It was also the fourth in four meetings that Leake beat Hartfield last season. 

Like this year’s game the Overall final was tight at the end. The game was tied 36-36 with 33 seconds to play after Hartfield rallied from a 34-27 deficit with 1:49 to play. Harkins made a free throw and Freeny made two free throws and Hartfield missed two shots from the field and made a turnover to clinch the win and the championship for Leake.

“We haven’t played or really even seen Hartfield since early November,” Hatch said. “They are long, athletic, and skilled, so I have no doubt it will be a tough matchup.”

Hartfield and coach Benton Ingram have never beaten Leake, losing six times in the past three seasons.

“The last two times we’ve played them we’ve lost by 3 points, so we are looking forward to another chance,” Ingram said. “They are a very good team that always seems to find a way to win. It should be a fun and exciting game.”

Hartfield has been the most dominating team in the Overall this year, winning by 31 over Tunica Academy and 33 over Lamar Christian. Hartfield had four players in double figures Friday (Harlie Grace Sensing with 18 points, Ma’Nia Womack 11 and Nyla Hooten and Avery Smith 10 each).