DAYTON, Ohio — The Mount Notre Dame basketball team added another state championship to its storied legacy Saturday night.
It took double overtime, but the Cougars would not be denied their second state title in the past three seasons. It was MND's eighth state girls basketball championship overall - the most in Ohio High School Athletic Association history.
"This one is so special," MND coach Dr. Scott Rogers said. "I mean for our fans - you can hear them back there. This is so special because it's a new state record which we didn't even talk about the entire year."
MND defeated Newark 57-55 in double overtime in the Division I state final at University of Dayton Arena.
"I'm just so proud of them," Rogers said. "They represent Cincinnati so well and the Southwest District. I'm just so fortunate to be a part of it."
MND (28-0), ranked No. 3 nationally by MaxPreps, has won 72 consecutive games.
"It is so special. 72-0 - that's crazy," said senior Laila Phelia. I'm just so happy for the team and we stuck together and we made it, we got it."
The Cougars made key plays on both ends of the floor during crunch time to help capture the state championship.
There were 10 lead changes overall in the game.
Junior KK Bransford scored a game-high 21 points to go along with 10 assists and eight rebounds to lead the Cougars.
Bransford scored all eight of MND's points in the second overtime session to help lift the Cougars. Bransford's jumper with 22 seconds left gave MND the 57-55 lead for good.
"It feels amazing especially to do it with my teammates," Bransford said. "They're the best team I've ever played with and it was just so fun this season. This is what we wanted so we kept chipping away at it."
Phelia added 11 points and three rebounds during the game.
Senior Autumn Crockett added nine points and four rebounds. Senior Cassie Stainton scored nine points and three assists.
Junior Abby Wolterman scored four points and had eight rebounds. Senior Brianna Counts had three points and three rebounds.
The most recent time MND had an overtime game prior to Saturday night was the 2019-20 season opener (61-59 win over then national No. 1-ranked New Hope Academy) Nov. 23, 2019 at the Journey to the Tourney at Lakota West.
MND broke a tie with Pickerington Central (including old Pickerington High School) and Columbus Africentric Early College for most OHSAA girls basketball titles. MND is now the only Ohio girls basketball program to have won eight state titles.
MND was ranked No. 1 in the season's final Associated Press state poll. Newark (26-2) is ranked No. 12 nationally by MaxPreps and was ranked No. 2 in the AP poll.
After the disappointment of not being able to compete in the 2020 state tournament due to the coronavirus outbreak, MND took full advantage of its opportunity with two wins at UD Arena this weekend.
"Last year was so devasting and as we talked before it wasn't just our kids," Rogers said earlier this week. "But, to be able to go through the adversity that they all faced this year and ultimately have another opportunity to get back there and compete again is - I don't think it will really sink in until this season is over with. I'm really proud of how well our girls have handled it - emotionally, mentally, physically."
Bransford said earlier in the week another state championship banner would have extra significance to the MND gymnasium.
"That would be really special especially for our seniors from last year - they didn't get a chance to do that," Bransford said. "So we're kind of dedicating this year to them."
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.
Rogers has led the Cougars to five state titles under his head coaching direction including 2004, 2006, 2017, 2019 and 2021.
The Cougars also won state titles in 2007, 2008 and 2009 under then-coach Dante Harlan.