HOT SPRINGS — They are no longer just stars of the city.
Following Saturday’s 56-34 win over Farmington in the Class 4A state championship basketball game, the Star City Lady Dogs are now stars of the state.
Star City turned in a near-flawless performance in the title game at the Summit Arena in Hot Springs, earning the second state title in school history and the first for head coach Becky Brown.
“It feels great,” Brown said, responding to the first question directed at her in the postgame interview. “I don’t think it has quite sunk in yet, but it’s going to.”
It could have started sinking in early in the second half as the Lady Dogs were dominating the title bout. Star City did most everything right from buzzer to buzzer en route to the title.
“I have seen them play several times, and they are good,” Farmington coach Brad Johnson said. “But that was just impressive. That was as perfect a game as I have seen any team play.”
Farmington (26-8) had no answers for Star City (32-1) as the Lady Dogs dominated every statistical category. Star City shot 48.7 percent from the floor (19 of 39), outrebounded the Lady Cardinals 30-17 and took advantage of 16 Farmington turnovers.
“They did everything they wanted to do,” Johnson said. “We had a game plan and they did some things early to change that and we never recovered. All I can say is the best team on the floor today won.”
In a game where it never trailed, Star City bolted out of the gate and held an early 9-2 advantage, bolstered by Laurin Pooree’s three-pointer that put the Lady Dogs up 5-2. Johnson was willing to surrender the outside shot from the corner until Pooree changed his mind. Once Johnson called for the defense to extend, Star City took advantage of the porous inside defense and found plenty of points in the paint.
Most Valuable Player Juquecia Chaney penetrated often following the shift and scored five of her 13 points in the opening period. Pooree attempted a second trey moments later and drew enough attention to be fouled on the play. She nailed all three shots from the line to put Star City up 13-6 and Farmington would never get closer as the Lady Dogs extended the lead to 30-16 by halftime.
Star City’s pressure defense created nine turnovers in the first half that led to 11 points and derailed Farmington’s rebounding advantage with 6-foot-2 Lexie Lewis, leading to seven second-chance points.
Star City scored 28 points in the paint against Farmington’s 16 as Lewis and Brea Jones’ length were no match for Octavian Reedy and Olydia Thornton on the post. Reedy collected seven rebounds to add to her game-leading 16 points while Thornton pulled down five boards in addition to her 10 points.
Jones was limited to four boards. Lewis amassed only three.
Brown believed stopping Jones was one of the keys to Star City hanging a championship banner. Jones fouled out with 3:35 left in the game with four points, considerably less than her 13 points per game average. Lewis finished with eight after averaging 12 during the season.
After Star City opened up a 35-21 advantage 3 minutes into the third, Farmington attempted to rally as Rene Scheyder hit a three, Jones connected from close range and Tiffany Rhame capped a 7-0 run with a bucket to cut the deficit to seven points, 35-28. But Star City slammed the door with a 14-0 run that ended any hopes of a Lady Cards comeback.
“We knew we had to answer that,” Brown said. “We had actually gotten out of our Five-Out (four corners offense) and started running some man press, taking it them. And it paid off.”
The Lady Dogs wrapped up their championship season on a 25-game winning streak. Star City went unblemished at 14-0 through the 8-4A Conference and holds a 61-game conference winning streak, a state record.