DAYTON, Ohio — The Mount Notre Dame basketball program has an opportunity to add yet another chapter to its storied legacy Saturday night.
The undefeated Cougars are going for an Ohio High School Athletic Association record eighth state girls basketball title.
MND (27-0) plays Newark (27-1) in the Division I state final at 8:30 p.m. Saturday at University of Dayton Arena. MND was ranked No. 1 in the season's final Associated Press Division I state poll, while Newark was No. 2.
MND, ranked No. 3 nationally by MaxPreps, has won 71 consecutive games. Newark is ranked No. 12 nationally by the website.
MND junior guard KK Bransford scored a game-high 26 points to go along with nine rebounds and seven assists as the Cougars defeated Toledo Notre Dame Academy 59-50 Friday night in a Division I state semifinal at UD Arena.
MND senior guard Laila Phelia, a University of Michigan signee, added 20 points.
Bransford, named an honorable mention selection to the 2021 Jersey Mike’s Naismith National High School All-America Team earlier this week, made a 3-pointer with 3:05 left in the third quarter to give the Cougars the lead for good (36-35) on Friday night.
The third quarter saw three ties before Bransford's 3-pointer. MND went on a 13-0 run after that and led by 13 points with 4:49 left.
Toledo Notre Dame Academy was led by junior forward Grace VanSlooten who scored 20 points and had eight rebounds.
Earlier Friday, Newark defeated Akron Archbishop Hoban 55-41 in the night's first Division I state semifinal.
Entering Saturday, MND is tied Pickerington Central (including old Pickerington High School) and Columbus Africentric Early College as the only Ohio schools to win seven state girls basketball titles.
MND is just the second Greater Cincinnati high school basketball program (boys or girls) in Ohio High School Athletic Association history to win at least 70 consecutive games.
The other Greater Cincinnati team was the Middletown boys basketball squad, led by Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer Jerry Lucas.
The Middies won 76 consecutive games from 1955-58.
MND is third all-time in OHSAA girls basketball history for most overall consecutive wins (including the postseason tournament).
Only Pickerington High School (74 wins) and Millersburg West Holmes (108 wins) have more consecutive wins than MND in state girls basketball history.
The Cougars are in the state tournament for the third consecutive season (2021, 2020, 2019). The 2020 state tournament was canceled before MND (28-0) made its trip to Columbus due to the coronavirus outbreak.
MND was the 2019 Division I state champion, the program's seventh state basketball title.
MND started its current win streak Jan. 17, 2019 when it defeated host Mercy McAuley 60-58. MND's most recent loss was to Centerville (70-56) Jan. 14, 2019.