Lakota West players celebrate their Regional Championship
KETTERING, Ohio – Amazing.
That’s how Danielle Wells described the feeling of Lakota West going to state.
But, she also delivered in a critical role in the fourth quarter of Saturday night’s Division I regional final at Trent Arena.
The junior guard had a team-high 16 points, including nine in the final frame to help lead Lakota West past Mount Notre Dame 60-53.
The victory gave the Firebirds a trip to the state Final Four for the first time since 2009.
“D. Wells had a stretch there where she just took over the game,” Lakota West coach Andy Fishman said. “So gutsy.”
Wells also had a team-high eight rebounds to go along with three steals.
Wells was part of a strong defensive effort by the Firebirds (26-2), which will play Newark (27-1) at 8 p.m. Friday in a Division I state semifinal at Ohio State University’s Value City Arena.
Next week will mark the third state Final Four appearance overall for the Firebirds, which also reached Columbus in 2009 and 2008 (state runner-up).
“It’s incredible,” Fishman said. “It’s an amazing feeling how the girls scraped and clawed.”
Saturday night featured nine ties in the game in front an energetic atmosphere of approximately 2,000 at Trent Arena.
Lakota West led 35-34 at halftime but couldn’t extend its lead past two in the third quarter. The Firebirds led 48-46 entering the fourth quarter.
Senior guard Lauren Cannatelli (Dayton signee) made two free throws to break a 48-all tie with 5:39 left in the fourth quarter which gave the Firebirds the lead for good.
Cannatelli had 13 points, while junior guard Nia Staples (West Virginia verbal commit) added 11. Freshman guard/forward Abby Prohaska had nine points and was an aggressive presence on both ends of the floor.
“Oh my gosh, words can’t really describe it right now,” Cannatelli said after cutting down part of the net. “A lot of emotions going right now. We are going to state. This is what we’ve been working for all season.”
Lakota West has won 19 consecutive games since Dec. 28. Saturday night was the fifth regional final appearance for Lakota West including the second straight visit.
“We worked so hard for this,” Prohaska said. “It’s amazing to be rewarded for working our butts off all season.”
Wells said the team will celebrate the regional title into Sunday but will be ready for Monday’s practice.
Mount Notre Dame senior Naomi Davenport (Michigan signee) finished with a game-high 26 points and 15 rebounds on Saturday night.
“She’s been great,” MND coach Dr. Scott Rogers said. “She’s had an incredible career. She is a great kid. She has a huge heart.”
Junior guard Abby Weeks added 13 points for the Cougars.
Rogers said he believes Saturday night was probably like the state championship with all due respect to the state Final Four teams.
“Lakota West I think will prevail,” Rogers said. “I hope it stays in Cincinnati.”
Lakota West 60, Mount Notre Dame 53
Lakota West (26-2) – Wells 5 5 16, Staples 5 0 11, Cannatelli 3 6 13, Whitaker 1 1 3, Jones 0 1 1, Wasan 3 1 7, Prohaska 3 3 9. Totals: 20 17 60
Mount Notre Dame (24-3) – South 1 1 4, Weeks 5 3 13, Davenport 10 6 26, Carlin 1 2 5, Scholz 1 0 2, Kissel 1 0 2, Pisciotta 0 1 1. Totals: 19 13 53
Halftime score: LW 35-34. 3-pointers: LW 3 (Wells, Cannatelli, Staples). MND 2 (South, Carlin).