EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – After arguably the most memorable season of her professional career in a trip to the WNBA Finals with the New York Liberty, El Paso native Kayla Thornton is back home for some rest and recuperation.
A graduate of Irvin High School and UTEP and a former basketball star at both places, Thornton was a key piece off the bench for the Liberty, averaging 4.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per game as a defensive standout for New York.
The Liberty lost the WNBA Finals in four games to the Las Vegas Aces last week, but now Thornton is back in the Sun City after the long season. She was at UTEP women’s basketball practice with her former coach Keitha Adams and also checked in on the Miners’ football team on Monday morning.
She told KTSM that while the trip to the WNBA Finals was exhilarating, one of the worst parts of losing was not being able to bring the trophy back home to El Paso.
“It’s good but that was the most disappointing thing, that I couldn’t bring a championship back here just to kind of revive El Paso especially with women’s basketball and these girls out here,” Thornton said. “Just to show that coming from not so big of a town in terms of basketball and recruits and stuff like that that we can make it. So, I’m going to promise that goal of it.”
After the biggest season of her nine-year professional career, Thornton said still hasn’t decided if she’s going to go play overseas this winter, like she has for most of her career and like many women’s professional players do every year.
Thornton played in Australia last winter and said she still has a few weeks to make up her mind on whether to go overseas, or stay home and gear up for the 2024 WNBA season.
Regardless, she’ll return to the Liberty next year, along with many of her teammates, as New York will look to complete the feat and win the WNBA title next year.
“It puts a lot of hunger, especially hoping everyone comes back and we have that same core,” Thornton said.