The list of accomplishments for Kori Stephenson just keeps on growing, and now you can add a national championship to the mix.
Stephenson, and her staff of assistants Sam Stevens and Ben Nelson, completed the journey begun a year prior when they helped guide a freshman-dominated roster to a second place finish at the NJCAA Division II national championships.
Using an outstanding core of returnees from that squad, plus a mixture of important new faces, the T-Birds took the ultimate final step when the captured the national title by beating the event's first and second seeded teams on successive nights, culminated by a thrilling, 82-72, win over Highland (Kan.) in overtime.
That completed a 28-5 season, the most wins and best overall record in school history. It was also MCC's sixth consecutive 20-win season and now third straight Region I championship.
The year before, the T-Birds, featuring a very young lineup with four freshman starters, finished the season with a 27-6 record and No. 2 national ranking. After capturing their second straight Region I title they then won their first three games at the NJCAA finals before finally falling.
Stephenson is the face of MCC Women’s basketball, having served the program as an assistant since 1999. She just completed her seventh season as head coach of the T-Birds.
She has compiled a 151-76 record in her seven years and her teams have won at least 20 games for the last five years in a row.
Originally from Forsyth, Montana, Kori graduated from South Dakota School of Mines & Technology in Rapid City, SD in 1998, earning a BA in Interdisciplinary Sciences. As a member of the Hardrocker’s women’s basketball team, she played for longtime head coach Barb Felderman, earning 1st-team NAIA All-American honors, three NAIA national tournament appearances and holding the all-time scoring record from 1997-2000 with 1,934 points. Kori had been the top assistant at Mesa since 1999 during which the Lady Thunderbirds finished 7th in the nation in 2001-02 at Hagerstown, MD and 5th in 2004-05 in Phoenix, then fifth in 2011-12 and second this past season.
During Kori’s tenure at Mesa, more than 30 players have gone to play at NCAA Division I, II and NAIA schools throughout the country. With extensive recruiting efforts throughout the Valley she has established a range of upcoming talent.
Coach Stephenson will look to take her Lady Thunderbirds to the playoffs for the eighth consecutive time next season.
Coach Kori lives in Mesa with her husband Brian and their two sons..