Aspen Thornton pours in 35 points to lead Lady Wolves past Star City

Star City
Star City's Maddie Anders (4) rebounds against Lake Hamilton's girls Wednesday at the Wolf Den.


PEARCY, Ark. – Rarely does a team outrebound its opponent 2-to-1 and lose by 18 points. That’s exactly what happened to Star City Wednesday when the Lady Dawgs were humbled by host Lake Hamilton, 69-51.

This is the same Star City team that had no seniors and checked into a Hot Springs hotel last March to play in the 4A state championship game.

“I think Star City would have won its state championship game,” said winning coach Brandi Higginbotham. “They didn’t graduate anyone, and could have been one of the few unbeaten champions in Arkansas. I don’t believe anyone in our conference will be better than Star City and Nashville.”

Star City
Lady Wolves’ Taylor Humphreys guards Star City’s Janiya Johnson.

Thornton buries Star City in fourth quarter

Higginbotham also noted the Lady Wolves didn’t graduate any players in 2019. One in particular was Aspen Thornton, who enjoyed a career-day against Star City with 35 points. Fourteen of those points came in the fourth quarter.

“We knew they were keying on Aspen and Hayleigh (Wyrick) because they’ve had such a great week,” said Higginbotham. “Star City defenders couldn’t stay in front of Aspen. We told her at halftime to dictate what was going on. I give credit to Coach (Scotty) Pennington. He set up a couple of plays that gave us an advantage. Aspen is a competitor who hates to lose.

“It was a physical game. We knew rebounding was going to be a problem. Their girls get off the floor so quick. If we could have rebounded late we could have ended it earlier. It came down to three days of playing, no legs left, and who wanted it more.”

Star City
Ginny Higginbotham throws the ball in bounds against Star City.

Several girls contribute for Lady Wolves

Thornton was by no means the only standout for Lake Hamilton (9-3). Despite getting in early foul trouble Wyrick contributed 10 points. Taylor Humphreys had the unenviable task of guarding Star City’s best player Janiya Johnson. Humphreys also swished a pair of 3-pointers in the third quarter that stalled a run by the Lady Dawgs. Annabelle Coppedge and Natalie Tedder played well at the post with Wyrick on the bench.

“When they lost Johnson (fouled out) it was a turning point,” said Higginbotham. “She could have done the same thing Aspen was doing to them. Taylor really did a nice job of defending Johnson. What changed the game came when they tried to stop Aspen. Taylor hit two big treys when they weren’t expecting her to shoot. Ginny (Higginbotham’s daughter) followed with a 3-pointer from the corner.”

Star City

Star City (11-2) final attempt at a rally in the last four minutes was not successful thanks to the Wolves’ free throw shooting. Thornton was perfect on 11 attempts, and Lake Hamilton converted 13 of 16 overall.

The Lady Dawgs were 8 of 22 from the charity stripe, missing eight in the fourth quarter. Johnson led Star City with 15 points, while Breanna Grayson scored 12 points and pulled down a game-high 18 rebounds.