Sunday, January 07, 2001

High School Insider

Sears sisters join in coaching duties at NCH

By Dave Schutte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        What started as a casual conversation between sisters Joanna and Mandy Sears has developed into a coaching duo.

        Joanna, a 1991 Wyoming graduate who returned to that school as a girls basketball assistant to coach Deb Gentile the last five seasons, heard North College Hill was looking for a coach. Joanna, 28, got the job in May, replacing Roger Shipman.

        “After five years as an assistant, I was ready to move up,” Joanna said. “I always dreamed of getting to this point, and I knew I didn't want to coach the junior var sity again.”

        She didn't have to search far for her own assistant.

        “Mandy and I started talking about it one day,” Joanna said. “I knew that she was in graduate school (at the University of Cincinnati) and would have flexible hours. She expressed an interest in helping out, and
I hired her.”

        While Joanna is the disciplinarian, Mandy, a 1995 graduate of Wyoming, is more like a friend to the players.

        “This has been an incredible learning experience,” Mandy said. “Joanna is so well-spoken and breaks ev erything down into small pieces. We were never real close as sisters, and I didn't think this would happen.”

        Although NCH wasn't generally considered a girls basketball power, the 1999-2000 team was a big surprise, going 17-3 with a starting lineup that included four freshmen and a sophomore. So expectations were high entering this season, with many coaches voting the Trojans the best Division III team in the Cincinnati area, ahead of such marquee programs as Wyoming and Madeira.

        “Sure, there was a lot of pressure on me because everyone was back,” Joanna said. “But it was also exciting, knowing of all the talent.”

        Although the Trojans have lost three times in 10 games this season, two came when No.2 scorer Michele Miller was out with a sprained ankle and junior Regina Lovette was out because of illness.

        “Everyone wanted to score, and it was hard for the girls to accept that you just can't throw the ball up and be successful,” Joanna said. “People are concerned that our scoring is off, but defense and discipline win games.”

        North College Hill plays second-place Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy on Monday at home and plays first-place Cincinnati Country Day on Jan.18. Both games will go a long way toward determining which teams are seeded in the Miami Valley Conference League and sectional tourna ments.

        SHOOTOUTS BEGIN: The first of four LaRosa Shootouts, played annually at UC's Shoemaker Center, will be today, beginning with a girls game between Mercy and Oak Hills at 2 p.m.

        Princeton meets Oak Hills in a boys game at 3:30 p.m., followed by Highlands vs. Newport Central Catholic.

        The big game of the series will be played Feb.9 when Withrow and Western Hills play for a second time this season.

        Other LaRosa Shootout nights are Friday, Jan.12, and Friday, Feb.16.

        PURCELL INDUCTEES: Former coaches Herb Woeste and Jack Hanlon, along with athletes Jay Koch and Mike Roebel, will be inducted into the Purcell Marian Hall of Fame on Jan.31.

        Veteran Moeller baseball coach Mike Cameron will be awarded the Bill Schroeder Award for Alumni athletic excellence.

        Xavier University men's basketball coach Skip Prosser will be the guest speaker, and NBA referee Mike Mathis will serve as the master of ceremonies.

        Call Tom Nerl at 487-3122 for ticket information.

        STATS: The Enquirer will accept girls and boys basketball statistics today from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 768-8544 or 768-8452.

        Coaches can fax statistics to 768-8550 before 4 p.m. or e-mail them to before 4 p.m.

        Coaches are asked to include a top-10 poll for either Division I or Divisions II-IV.

        Wrestling Honor Roll nominations also are being accepted. Division I coaches should fax them to 398-4183 or e-mail them to, and Divisions II-III coaches should call 396-5559 or e-mail them to anytime Sunday or before noon Monday.

        Swimming coaches should fax honor roll nominations to 831-9714 or e-mail them to anytime Sunday.

        Gymnastics coaches should call Ed Schwegler be tween noon and 5 p.m. today at 858-3275 with honor roll nominations.

Boys basketball coverage
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