Having opened 5-0, the Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame High School girls basketball team has been delivering nothing but punishment, with those five wins by an average of 30 points and the closest victory being by 18.

Having opened 5-0, the Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame High School girls basketball team has been delivering nothing but punishment, with those five wins by an average of 30 points and the closest victory being by 18.

Going nine or 10 deep, Mount Notre Dame has worn down the opposition.

"The third quarter has always been a real strong quarter for us and we take a lot of pride in that," eighth-year coach Dante Harlan said. "We try to impose our will on the other team."

The Cougars will open the Kroger Holiday Classic against Warminster (Pa.) Wood Catholic. Through the first five games this season, Mount Notre Dame had won 29 in a row. It also has won four of the last five Division I state titles.

The Cougars relish the chance to face some top-notch competition.

"They do a great job running that tournament in bringing in some quality teams," Harlan said. "We're looking forward to coming up and playing against the level of competition that's going to be in that tournament."

The Cougars are led by seven seniors and had three players -- senior wing player and guard Gabby Smith (17.2), senior power forward Kendall Hackney (12.0) and sophomore guard Kathryn Reynolds (10.6) -- averaging in double figures through five games. Smith has committed to Vanderbilt and Hackney is a Southern California recruit.

Senior point guard Ashley Fowler also has provided stability to the starting lineup. She was averaging 8.6 points and 5.0 assists. With such a balanced attack, there isn't one go-to player on the roster. Harlan demands the distribution of the basketball and it has become one of the cornerstones of the program.

"We always preach team," he said. "We don't run our offense through one player, we read matchups and take advantage of individual matchups we might see playing against another team. That's how we've been successful in the past.

"It might be (Hackney) one night with 20 or (Reynolds) another night or even (Fowler), who really makes our team go. They understand that it's all about the team and I won't accept anything less."

Hackney has been a force throughout her career and early this season on defense. With 14 blocks and 46 rebounds through five games, the 6-foot-2 Hackney consistently has the ability to keep her team in the game, even when the shooting and offensive firepower is non-existent.

"Kendall has done a lot of things that you won't see on the stat sheet," Harlan said. "That game against Kettering Fairmont (67-49 win Nov. 29) was her most impressive game playing for Mount Notre Dame. From defending in the paint to rebounding to being physical, she does it all."

Mount Notre Dame hopes to make another trip to the Columbus are in March as they gun for another state championship.

"The girls look at anytime they go on the road and play, it's preparation for the state tournament," Harlan said. "Whatever we do, we're always trying to make that next step toward Columbus."