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Mount Notre Dame's KK Bransford named Ohio Ms. Basketball for a second time

Sixth player to win Ms. Basketball at least twice
KK Bransford.jpg
Posted at 11:15 AM, Mar 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-23 12:00:39-04

READING, Ohio — There may be a day in the future when KK Bransford is the journalist asking the questions for a story.

But that time has not arrived just yet.

The Mount Notre Dame High School senior combo guard is familiar with the media spotlight as one of the most accomplished high school basketball players who has ever competed in Greater Cincinnati.

On Wednesday morning, that spotlight grew brighter as Bransford was named Ohio Ms. Basketball for a second straight season by a statewide media panel.

The University of Notre Dame signee is the story again. Bransford is the sixth individual to win the prestigious statewide award at least twice since the top girls basketball honor started in 1988.

"We had such a great season," said Bransford, who plans to study journalism in South Bend. "So to be able to have that again, have the Ms. Basketball award - I was super excited. I can only thank God for it because I went through all four of my years. I played every single game with no injuries which is super special."

Now in its 35th year, the prestigious Ohio Ms. Basketball award was first given by the Associated Press in 1988. It has been voted by the Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association since 2017.

Reynoldsburg senior Imarianah Russell was runner-up. Finalists included Akron Archbishop Hoban senior Lane Riley, Olmsted Falls junior Paige Kohler, New Philadelphia senior Ajia Schreffler and Bloomdale Elmwood senior Brooklyn Thrash.

Bransford, MND's all-time leading scorer with 2,172 career points, is the school's third player to receive the Ms. Basketball honor joining Kendall Hackney (2009) and Mel Thomas (2004).

Other Greater Cincinnati winners have included Princeton's Kelsey Mitchell (2014), Lakota West's Amber Gray (2008), Reading's Carol Madsen (1989) and Seton's Janet Haneberg (1988).

Bransford's basketball legacy is firmly cemented at the Girls Greater Catholic League school in suburban Cincinnati.

"What I've taken the most pride in is just being able to be versatile," Bransford said. "Something that we said before every game, during every practice is 'unbreakable.' Being unbreakable on the court. Whether any kind of adversity comes toward us and toward me is to be unbreakable. And I want to take that to college and have that just be a characteristic of mine."

The McDonald's All-American averaged 21.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 2.5 steals this past season for the Cougars (26-1), a Division I regional finalist.

Bransford helped to lead MND to a 98-game win streak - the second-most amount of consecutive wins in Ohio high school girls basketball history.

By the time the win streak - which started Jan. 17, 2019 - was snapped earlier this month in the regional final,MND was just 10 victories behind the state record held by Millersburg West Holmes (1983-1987).

MND's win streak included three consecutive trips to the state Final Four including two state titles in 2019 and 2021.

The Cougars were undefeated (28-0) entering the 2020 state Final Four before the tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A month later, MND was ranked No. 1 nationally by a national media website.

MND coach Dr. Scott Rogers said the win streak was a collective effort but it would not have been possible without Bransford.

"If you just look at the body of her work here in the four years - when you think about it - it's mind-boggling," Rogers said. "I'm not one that ever talked about the streak that we had. Other than our goal is to win a state championship every year. To be able to go there three consecutive years and have a chance to go there again this past season - I think that will be her legacy."

Like so many well-known student-athletes who have graduated from MND, Bransford's impact goes beyond lofty basketball statistics.

"She's friends with so many girls in the school," MND senior power forward Abby Wolterman said. "And she just talks to all the adults, all the teachers. So I think she will just be remembered for the person she is outside of basketball as well."

Bransford's leadership and how she stayed humble while receiving many accolades had a significant impact on the team this past season.

"I'm just so proud of her," Wolterman said. "And honestly I feel really blessed to be able to play with her. I think she makes me better."

Ohio Ms. Basketball Ohio winners

2022 – KK Bransford, Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame, senior

2021 – KK Bransford, Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame, junior

2020 – Madeline Westbeld, Kettering Fairmont, senior

2019 – Kierstan Bell, Canton McKinley, senior

2018 – Kierstan Bell, Canton McKinley, junior

2017 – Kierstan Bell, Canton McKinley, sophomore

2016 – Jensen Caretti, Hannibal River, senior

2015 – Hallie Thome, Chagrin Falls, senior

2014 – Kelsey Mitchell, Cin. Princeton, senior

2013 – Ashley Morrissette, Twinsburg, senior

2012 – Ameryst Alston, Canton McKinley, senior

2011 – Ameryst Alston, Canton McKinley, junior

2010 – Natasha Howard, Tol. Waite, senior

2009 – Kendall Hackney, Cin. Mount Notre Dame, senior

2008 – Amber Gray, West Chester Lakota West, senior

2007 – Jantel Lavender, Cleveland Central Catholic, senior

2006 – Tyra Grant, Youngstown Ursuline, senior

2005 – Maria Getty, Dayton Chaminade-Julienne, senior

2004 – Mel Thomas, Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame, senior

2003 – Brittany Hunter, Columbus Brookhaven, senior

2002 – Barbara Turner, Cleveland East Tech, senior

2001 – Michelle Munoz, Mason, senior

2000 – Michelle Munoz, Mason, junior

1999 – (TIE) Kaayla Chones, Eastlake North, senior; LaToya Turner, Pickerington, senior

1998 – Tamika Williams, Dayton Chaminade-Julienne, senior

1997 – Semeka Randall, Garfield Hts. Trinity, senior

1996 – Semeka Randall, Garfield Hts. Trinity, junior

1995 – Beth Ostendorf, Pickerington, senior

1994 – Na’Sheema Hillmon, Garfield Hts. Trinity, senior

1993 – Marlene Stollings, Beaver Eastern, senior

1992 – Katie Smith, Logan, senior

1991 – Vonda Ward, Garfield Hts. Trinity, senior

1990 – Vonda Ward, Garfield Hts. Trinity, junior

1989 – Carol Madsen, Reading, senior

1988 – Janet Haneberg, Cincinnati Seton, senior


Won as junior (6): Vonda Ward, Garfield Heights. Trinity (1990, 1991); Semeka Randall, Garfield Heights Trinity (1996, 1997); Michelle Munoz, Mason (2000, 2001), Ameryst Alston, Canton McKinley (2011, 2012), Kierstan Bell, Canton McKinley (2017, 2018, 2019), KK Bransford, Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame (2021, 2022)

Won as sophomore (1): Kierstan Bell, Canton McKinley (2017)

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