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 hasn’t arrived just yet.
The Cincinnati 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 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 wouldn’t 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’ve 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.”
Mike Dyer is a sports journalist for WCPO-TV in Cincinnati and provided this story on behalf of the OPSWA.