Meet the glue of Lakota West's high-octane team

Posted at 8:00 AM, Mar 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-02 08:00:07-05

WEST CHESTER TOWNSHIP, Ohio - Lakota West senior Danielle Wells is a chameleon on the basketball court.

Take a glimpse at the Firebirds this postseason and it becomes apparent her value on the floor. And it’s not just at the point guard position, either.

Points, rebounds, assists and strong effort on defense are consistent elements of her game.

“Whatever needs to be done game to game and situation to situation, she does it,” Lakota West girls basketball coach Andy Fishman said. “She has that sixth sense to know what needs to be done.”

Evidence of that selfless play was apparent when Wells was a freshman. Wells and Lakota West standout Nia Staples both played point guard.

Fishman recalls an early conversation that season when he knew both players played the same position. Wells told Fishman she didn’t the ball to make a scoring impact.

“I thought that was incredibly mature,” Fishman said. “She was kind of profound beyond her years as a freshman.”

Staples, a West Virginia signee, has made a significant impact on the Firebirds by scoring over 1,200 career points and holding the school’s career assists mark. The state player of the year candidate smiled when asked what it’s like to play with Wells. She knows how capable her teammate is at drawing fouls on made field goals.

The two were side by side during media interviews last weekend after the district championship win over Tecumseh at Harrison. Neither takes anything for granted.

Staples had 22 points against Tecumseh while Wells had 21 points and was the team’s co-rebounding leader with seven.

Wells had just finished taking her turn with a snippet of the net. Last season’s state championship run has set the bar high for this season.

“This is just one step on the ladder to getting to state,” Wells said.

As the Firebirds (25-1) prepare to play Springboro (23-3) in the Division I regional semifinal at 6:15 p.m. Wednesday at Kettering Fairmont, Wells will again be one of the senior leaders Lakota West looks to in all four quarters.

She is the school’s record-holder for most assists in a season with 87 this regular season.

“She is a big-time player for big-time moments,” Fishman said. “That’s what makes her special. She relishes the role of defensive stopper.”

Wells, who is signed with Indiana University East, averaged 9.5 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.7 steals and 2.5 assists for the Firebirds entering last week’s win over Tecumseh in the district final.  She’s started all 26 games this season.

“To me she is the most valuable player of that team,” said Tom Jenkins, director of the Ohio Girls’ Basketball Report. “Without her they wouldn’t be as cohesive. You have a lot of talented individuals but she makes them a team.”

Wells also has a clutch gene that makes her unique. She had a team-high 16 points including nine in the fourth quarter in last season’s regional final win over Mount Notre Dame.

The Firebirds will certainly look to that experience this week.

“Without question Lakota West has a lot of high-profile kids,” Jenkins said. “Danielle has been the glue for a very long time. She is the one to keep all the pieces together.