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Lady Devils' Fab Five

SUN-STAR PHOTO BY BEA AHBECK
Five Merced College basketball players will be signing to play at four-year colleges. (l-r, clockwise) Anna Yardy, 20, Tineka Spencer, 19, Patricia O'Neill, 20, Tiara Dunson and Tanisha White, 20.
SUN-STAR PHOTO BY BEA AHBECK Five Merced College basketball players will be signing to play at four-year colleges. (l-r, clockwise) Anna Yardy, 20, Tineka Spencer, 19, Patricia O'Neill, 20, Tiara Dunson and Tanisha White, 20. Merced Sun-Star

Tineka Spencer was a bit overwhelmed.

The Merced College sophomore had only started playing basketball her freshman year in high school.

Now six years later, Spencer was receiving calls from Division I basketball programs.

Arizona, San Jose State and Nicholls State were all vying for the services of the Lady Devils' 6 foot 2 center.

"It means a lot to me, because I never thought I'd go on to play at a four-year school," Spencer said. "It shows how far I came in my last year."

As tempting as the Division I offers were, Spencer had to go with her heart.

And her heart was hoping for something a little closer to home.

"I chose Fresno Pacific mainly because I wanted to be close to me mom and younger sister," Spencer said. "The school has my major and I really like the campus feel.

Tiara Dunson decided to go in a different direction.

Dunson looked poised to stay close to home and attend San Jose State, when a trip to St. Francis College in New York won her over.

"The city was great. The coaching staff was great. It was an all-around good situation," Dunson said. "Plus, I thought it would be a good learning experience to be out on my own for the first time.

"I was excited to try something different."

Spencer and Dunson aren't the only ones heading in a new direction.

Sophomores Patricia O'Neill (Lewis and Clark College in Iowa), Anna Yardy (Greenville College in Missouri) and Tanisha White (Cal State Monterey Bay) will also be playing at four-year schools next season.

The five signings is a record for Lady Devils coach Allen Huddleston.

"I was really proud of the effort this group put in in their two years," Huddleston said. "The four-year coaches saw a lot of good things from them.

"They worked hard in the offseason and made a lot of progress."

The number of signees could rise also.

Huddleston said schools have been inquiring about freshman Olivia Andam and others are playing wait and see on the status of Ashley Willison's knee.

Huddleston said guard Keyona McKibbens also would have been in the group, but has decided to stop playing due to constant pain.

"I think it's pretty special to be a part of a record like that," Dunson said. "It shows this class that's leaving accomplished something and made the most of our opportunities."

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