SPRINGFIELD, Ohio — The Purcell Marian High School girls basketball team is returning to the state tournament for a third consecutive season.
Purcell Marian defeated Badin 64-54 Friday in a Division II regional final Friday night at Springfield High School. The Cavaliers will return to University of Dayton Arena next week with the hopes of repeating as state champs — this time in Division II.
Sophomore Dee Alexander, a finalist for Ohio Ms. Basketball, had a game-high 28 points, including 24 of those points in the second half.
"Being a sophomore and going back to the final four it just means a lot," Alexander said. "I know that even though we are a young team we are getting older and older. We know what our coach's expectations are and we just keep it up the whole time."
Friday was the fifth consecutive regional final for Purcell Marian (25-2), which has won 15 consecutive games. Purcell Marian will make its third consecutive trip to the state Final Four after winning the Division III state title in 2022 — the program's first state championship — and being a Division III state semifinalist in 2021.
"I don't talk to them about winning championships; we just talk about getting better every single day," Purcell Marian coach Jamar Mosley said. "Knowing that their goal is to win a state championship and for us to get back to our third final four appearance in the last three years — it just means so much to our program and what we've been able to accomplish since I've taken over."
The Cavaliers play Bryan in a Division II state semifinal at 11 a.m. March 9 at University of Dayton Arena. The winner plays Canal Fulton Northwest or Proctorville Fairland in the state final at 10:45 a.m. March 11 at UD Arena.
Purcell Marian was ranked No. 4 in the season's final Associated Press Division II state poll while Badin was tied for No. 7.
Purcell Marian led 18-5 at one in the first quarter Friday night including a 12-0 start. But the Rams outscored Purcell Marian 19-6 in the second quarter, and the game was tied at 24 at halftime.
"We knew Badin was a tough opponent," Alexander said. "And honestly I think it was our toughest opponent through the whole season that we have had so far."
Mosley said there was a pivotal moment in the third quarter when Badin called a timeout. Mosley turned to Alexander near the bench.
"I just told Dee, 'Dee, it's your time now,'" Mosley said. "'We've been riding you this whole year. We're going to ride you. No matter what happens on both ends of the floor - we need you to step up.' She was already playing a solid game but late in that second half she just completely took over the game and put the team on her back."
Badin (24-3) played in its third consecutive regional final and 12th overall in program history. The Rams sought their first regional title since 2004.
Sophomore Gracie Cosgrove led Badin with 22 points. Badin entered Friday's regional final with a 14-game win streak.