COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Julia Hoefling scored 18 points, eight in the fourth quarter, to help Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame to its sixth title with a 54-44 win against Toledo Notre Dame Academy in a Division I final on Saturday.
The six titles tie Pickerington and South Euclid Regina for the most titles in the history of the girls tournament, which began in 1976.
“This one means a lot to me,” Mount Notre Dame coach Scott Rogers said. “I took this one in more than others. I’ve enjoyed the kids so much.
“To do what they’ve done is absolutely short of incredible. . This team is so young; to understand what it takes to get to this game is special.”
Mount Notre Dame’s most recent championship came in 2009 to cap a four-year reign. The Cougars also won in 2004.
It was more heartbreak for Toledo Notre Dame Academy, which has never won a title despite being in the state tournament five of the past six years with another runner-up finish in 2015.
“It’s horrible. It’s hard,” coach Travis Galloway said.
Mount Notre Dame (26-4) held a 42-31 lead with six minutes to play at Value City Arena. But a 3-pointer by Mariah Copeland and two quick scores by Bre Hampton-Bey made it 42-38 before Maria Pisciotta made a basket to put Mount Notre Dame ahead 44-38.
“Our goal wasn’t to just get here. Our goal was to win it,” Hoefling said. “We had to finish it off.”
Hampton-Bey had eight of her 22 points in the fourth quarter for Notre Dame Academy.
“We knew we had enough heart (to come back),” Hampton-Bey said. “We didn’t give up.”
Mount Notre Dame got 15 points from Abby Voss and 12 from Gabbie Marshall.
The Cougars trailed 11-4 after the first quarter and 17-10 early in the second, but held Notre Dame Academy without a point for more than four minutes. They went on an 11-0 run to move to a 21-17 advantage and took a 24-20 lead into halftime.
Marshall had two steals and two baskets in the opening 45 seconds of the third quarter to make it 28-20.
“That was the key,” Rogers said. “I told her at halftime, ‘Gabbie, don’t lose faith.’ She hadn’t been hitting shots but she had those two steals and we were off and running.”