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One Franklin County High School standout gives way to another. Ashli Mayes joins Georgetown College women's basketball team as former Flyer teammate Andrea Howard graduates.
The best friends may never get to play at GC together, but the bond still ties pretty deep. The irony even existing that Mayes could fill some of the void left by Howard – 12.8 points per game career average and 14.9 in her senior year.
"I keep hearing that I have big shoes to fill," Mayes said with a smile. "(Andrea) was probably the biggest recruiting tool for me. I really look up to her; she is like my bigger sister. I was hearing from everyone in the Mid-South Conference, but knowing how much she liked it here and how well she did was just a huge comfort to me."
The 5-foot-10 combination guards were a fierce duo on the hardwood and have had their own success outside of FCHS.
Mayes signed with NCAA Division I Samford after her 2012 graduation, choosing the Bulldogs over Eastern Kentucky, Morehead State, Cleveland State, Austin Peay and Missouri State.
"As a young player it was always my dream to play Division I and have that experience," Mayes said. "I felt God leading me away from home to grow up and mature."
The Kentucky native saw a lot of action as a freshman for the Bulldogs. In 24 games, she averaged 2.3 points and 2.0 rebounds. She had a career-high 11 points, five rebounds and three assists at SEC foe Auburn University.
"Ashli brings not only talent, but leadership to this team," said GC coach Andrea McCloskey. "She is a combo guard with a lot of grit in her play both inside and outside the paint. Ashli's hunger for the game is contagious and will be very exciting to watch next season."
The description sounds very familiar to her friend Howard, who just this past year was named NAIA First Team All-American.
Mayes continued to see the floor, but more sparingly her sophomore year at Samford and decided it was time for a change.
"It felt like God was calling me back here to finish my education strong and be able to play in front of my family," Mayes said. "When I made my announcement that it was Georgetown, it was my grandfather – who has been like a hero to me – that got emotional a bit and was so happy to have me 20 minutes away from him where he could watch me play again."
Nothing was better than being in her own backyard, a place where she had so much success.
Mayes scored 1,404 points and grabbed 760 rebounds in her first three years of high school. An unfortunate knee injury sidelined her for the senior season. In three years, the guard had 26 double-doubles.
The Flyers were three-time 41st District Champions and runner-up during Mayes senior season and finished with an 86-43 record. They advanced to the 11th Region tournament all four years, reaching the semifinals and finals once.
Individually, Mayes was named All-County MVP as a junior and was a four-time All-County team member. As a senior she was honored with FCHS' team's Sportsmanship Award.
The guard was heavily recruited by many Mid-South Conference teams, but when it came down to it Georgetown felt like home.
"This program, Coach McCloskey, my teammates, this school, it is all just the right fit," Mayes said. "Hopefully (Andrea and I) start a legacy here and other Franklin County players can look and see two great players doing things and being successful here."