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These girls are going places: Merced College quartet signs with 4-year schools

Not everyone handles disappointment well.

Most don't, as a matter of fact.

It takes a special kind of person to bounce right back from adversity. It's even tougher to do when the person is responsible for the letdown.

Pamiela Bounkhoune wouldn't put herself in the bounce-back group.

The former Merced College point guard helped lead the Lady Devils to the state tournament as a freshman.

She received first-team all-Central Valley Conference honors as a sophomore after averaging 10.2 points per game and 3.3 assists while running MC's point.

Bounkhoune's numbers and accolades drew plenty of interest from four-year schools, but ...

That's when Bounkhoune's path hit a bump from which she almost didn't recover.

"I didn't have my classes in order," Bounkhoune said. "I had to watch my teammates go off and keep playing while I stayed behind.

"It was a struggle. I pretty much just quit on myself.

"I stopped playing basketball, I gained weight. It was a mess."

Fortunately for Bounkhoune, her teammates and friends intervened before things spun too far out of control.

"A lot of people picked me up and got me going," Bounkhoune said. "I talked to someone really special to me and they convinced me to finish up school and see what happens."

Bounkhoune's perseverance paid off.

While pursuing MC's Fantasia Newsome, Missouri Valley College caught a glimpse of Bounkhoune's highlights.

With the school work in order, MVC happily signed the pair.

"They saw tape of Pam playing and were excited to add her," MC coach Allen Huddleston said. "It took her a little longer to move on, but she stuck with it.

"She's getting what she deserves."

Bounkhoune and Newsome are two of four Lady Devil sophomores who received scholarships to four-year schools.

Amanda Pacheco (2 points per game, 3.4 rebounds per game) will be playing at Cascade College in the winter and Jihnnae Clark (6.7 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.4 steals) will be off to Clarke College.

"I'm excited," said Newsome who averaged 7.8 points and 5.8 rebounds per game last year. "I feel like my two years at school didn't go to waste.

"I came here to get a scholarship to a four-year school and I acheived that.

"It's just going to be that much better because I've got a teammate going with me."

Sean Lynch is a Sun-Star sports writer. He can be reached at 385-2476 or via e-mail at slynch@mercedsun-star.com.

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