DAYTON, Ohio — The Purcell Marian High School girls basketball team had March 11 in mind this entire winter as the day it could repeat as state champions.
The Cavaliers fulfilled that mission early Saturday afternoon with a 57-48 win over Canal Fulton Northwest in the Division II state final.
Just like the state semifinal, there were times when it wasn't easy. But, the Cavaliers persevered to prove it had the top D-II team with the state's top player overall.
Sophomore Dee Alexander — Ohio's Ms. Basketball— scored 20 points and had 10 rebounds and three steals as Purcell Marian (27-2) captured its second straight state title in front of 2,941 fans at University of Dayton Arena.
"Our expectation was the same," Alexander said. "Everything was the same as last year. We just had to do what we know how to do and just block out everybody who is an outsider."
Alexander scored 10 of her game-high 20 points in the fourth quarter. That included two steals at half-court for layups in the first 2:20 of the quarter that helped give the Cavaliers a 6-2 run and an 11-point lead.
Purcell Marian led 21-15 at halftime but the Cavaliers weren't satisfied with the first 16 minutes.
"At halftime there I was just talking to Dee Alexander, telling her, 'We need you to step up'," Mosley said. "What she did in that second half, she did an amazing job not only on the offensive but the defensive end as well."
Sophomore Ky'Aira Miller added 17 points — including 13 of 14 free throws — to help Purcell Marian to its 17 consecutive win. Junior Jayda Mosley added eight points including two 3-pointers. Sophomore Trinity Small had two 3-pointers and freshman McKenzie Jones had six points and had eight rebounds.
Jayda Mosley's second 3-pointer of the third quarter gave Purcell Marian a nine-point advantage (29-20). Small's two 3-pointers gave the Cavaliers a seven-point lead each time in the quarter.
"Everybody in the country knows who Dee Alexander is," coach Jamar Mosley said. "But, young ladies like Trinity Small, Ky'Aira Miller, Jayda Mosley — they make Dee's job a lot easier."
Saturday's state final completed a back-to-back state championship journey after the Cavaliers won the 2022 Division III state title, its first title in program history.
"It's a surreal feeling," Jamar Mosley said. "I'm still trying to process it. The girls deserve it all."
Purcell Marian didn't talk about winning a championship on a daily basis. The Cavaliers simply knew they wanted to improve to reach March 11.
"I think throughout the entire year each one of them got better in different ways on and off the floor," Jamar Mosley said. "That's why I say I'm honored to be able to coach a great group of student-athletes with a GPA of 3.6 throughout the entire year."
Purcell Marian plans to have a school celebration for the state championship this upcoming week with details to be announced later.
Purcell Marian is one of two Greater Cincinnati girls basketball teams in the state final Saturday at UD Arena. Princeton (27-2) plays Olmsted Falls (24-3) in the Division I state final at 8:30 p.m.