HICO — Believing in team play brought senior Ashley Featherston and the Hico Lady Tigers their first district basketball championship in 11 years.
Now come the individual accolades — and the college scholarships.
Featherston, who averaged 18.7 points and 8.3 rebounds per game, earned Class 2A all-state honors from the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches and from Texas Basketball Magazine. An honor student, Featherston also made TABC’s academic all-state list.
Last month, Featherston signed a letter-of-intent to play basketball for the Grayson County College Lady Vikings next season, and will receive a full scholarship.
The honors are “pretty exciting,” Featherston said. “It’s pretty cool.”
For the second straight year, she was named the district’s most valuable player, and made TABC’s all-region list.
“Ashley was a leader on the court and was the go-to girl all year,” Lady Tigers head coach Larry Holder said.
“She displayed leadership skills on and off the court by being the hardest worker on the team. She worked hard in the classroom and on the court,” he said.
Featherston said that she “kind of wanted to take control of things” heading into her senior year. The better she played, the more her confidence grew — and her teammates noticed.
“I felt like I was more of a leader this year,” she said.
During high-stress situations late in close games, Featherston’s teammates looked to her to make the big play.
The star senior wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
“I wanted the ball in my hands because I knew that I could get it done,” she said.
Still, the team’s success was a result of how close-knit the players were, Featherston said.
“We couldn’t do anything without the other person,” she said. Teammates were always ready and willing to help one another out, and became “really close” over the course of the season.
“We were always there for each other,” she said.
Striking a balance between athletics and academics “was never that bad,” Featherston said, but she and several other seniors were challenged by AP Calculus — namely, the nightly homework they were assigned, regardless of the team’s travel plans.
She said she would remember the support the Lady Tigers received from their fans as they made their run to the district title.
“As district went on, there were no empty seats in the gym,” she said. “People were excited about it.”
Featherston plans to study sports medicine at Grayson, with an eye toward becoming a physical therapist. She’s excited about joining a team of players with the “same passion” for the game that she has.
“I love playing,” she said.
The move to the next level, both athletically and academically, is one Featherston is excited about.
“I’m going to miss Hico and high school basketball,” she said, but she’s looking forward to college in Denison. “I’ll get to expand my knowledge.”