Thursday was homecoming for Georgetown College’s Andrea Howard and Campbellsville University’s Chelsea Craig.
The two Franklin County graduates are in town for the Mid-South Conference basketball tournament, and both of their teams played in the quarterfinals at the Frankfort Convention Center.
“I’m glad to be back here playing in front of my family and friends,” Craig said. “It feels really good.”
Campbellsville defeated St. Catharine 69-59 while Georgetown fell to Lindsey Wilson 86-77.
Both sophomores, Howard and Craig have bounced back from rough freshman years to playing key roles for their teams this year.
Howard saw little playing time last season. This year, with a new head coach, she’s started 29 of the Lady Tigers’ 30 games. On Wednesday she was one of 10 players named to the Mid-South all-conference first team.
“Coach Mac (Andrea McCloskey) has really pushed us this year,” Howard said. “It’s a whole new outlook, totally different.”
And it’s paid off.
Georgetown was a pre-season pick to finish sixth in the conference but instead finished third. At 21-9 the Lady Tigers are ranked 17th nationally in the NAIA.
GC has posted wins over fifth-ranked Cumberlands and No. 6 Shawnee State, both members of the Mid-South Conference.
Cumberlands is the No. 1 seed in the tournament and Shawnee State is No. 2. The Lady Tigers split with both teams during the regular season.
Craig signed with Lincoln Memorial, an NCAA Div. II school in Harrogate, Tenn., out of high school.
Craig decided to transfer after her freshman year – “It just wasn’t a good fit,” she said – but had no idea where she wanted to go.
So she turned to FCHS girls coach Joey Thacker, who put a call in to Campbellsville head coach Ginger Colvin.
“On my visit I saw the school, met some teammates,” Craig said. “I felt comfortable, and I signed that day.”
Because she transferred from an NCAA school to an NAIA school Craig was eligible immediately. She began the season as a reserve but moved into the starting lineup right after Christmas.
“I think my role has grown as the year’s progressed,” she said.
Howard’s role has changed since the beginning of the year. She started out as a shooting guard, but when the Lady Tigers’ point guard suffered a stress fracture early in the season and decided to redshirt, Howard moved to the point.
“I played point guard in high school my senior year,” she said. “It’s been a lot of fun.”
Howard has averaged 16 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game this year. In Thursday’s loss she had 14 points, five rebounds and five assists.
In addition to being named first team all-conference she was also named academic all-conference, an honor given to those players with a grade-point average of 3.25 or better. Howard is a math major.
Craig had 16 points and seven rebounds in Campbellsville’s win Thursday. CU will play Cumberlands Saturday at 2 p.m. in the semifinals.
Both players have happily settled into college life.
“I really love it,” Craig said about Campbellsville. “I love everything. I love the school; I want to be a nurse. I love all my teammates, all my coaches. It’s a good atmosphere to be in.”
And Howard, who said transferring crossed her mind once or twice as a freshman, feels the same way.
“I’m so glad I stayed this year,” she said. “The girls on the team are like my best friends, and I’m truly blessed to be a part of this.
“I love it. I love college, I love continuing to play basketball and going to school. I love every aspect of it.”