By Jeff Harrison
Kari Sears knows what a state championship team looks like. And she knows what it takes to get there.
The Del City girls basketball head coach believes her team has the makings of a champion. And she has them headed towards that goal with a busy summer.
“I have gotten away from some of the things we used to do and we’re trying to do the little things that build team chemistry,” Sears said. “We have the right tools and everything we need to be a state contender. We just need to make sure it happens.”
The Lady Eagles played 35 games during a 3 1/2 week stretch. The busy summer included team camps at Anadarko and Lincoln Christian high schools, and summer league games in the metro.
Sears turned the Anadarko camp into a team-building weekend at Ft. Cobb. They stayed at her family’s property near the lake and enjoyed swimming and spending time outdoors.
“We were able to get away from city life and get to know each other better,” Sears said.
The team has had strong commitment this summer from the whole the team, led by seniors Ossyana Ozoani, Karley Wouldard, Sidney Dennis and Jakira Wilson. The Lady Eagles have qualified for state nine times under Sears, including 2 of the last 3 years. Last season they used a strong postseason run to advance to state, despite finishing the regular season with a sub .500 record.
“Last year we probably shouldn’t have made state but the girls really came together,” Sears said.
The team will have more help this season with the addition of two new assistant coaches including former Lady Eagle standout Toni Young.
“Toni Young will be great for our kids,” Sears said. “She played here on our 2009 state championship team and at OSU and in the WBNA. We’ll definitely use her expertise.”
Sears also added another assistant in Tyler Lusher along with current assistant Greg Rideau, who also coaches the track team.
“They’re doing a great working with the kids and getting them in the gym,” Sears said.
The Lady Eagles are finished with team camps but will continue to work out the rest of the summer. Some players such as Ozoani and Wouldard will also play summer AAU basketball. Both seniors are playing on the Oklahoma Shock based out of Tulsa. The team is scheduled to play in tournaments in North Carolina and Georgia.