Athletes make good with second chance

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Tiara Tucker dribbles past half court as coach Johnson and team looks on at Joseph Blanchard Gymnasium. PHOTO BY RICHARD REYES

Lady Mustangs Guards Tiara Tucker and Brittany Butler returned to the courts after suffering injuries that derailed their early college careers.

Butler, 19, entered her freshman season eager to make up for lost time after missing last year with a kneecap dislocation.

“There was no cartilage behind my kneecap and I played on it all the way coming into Delta and my first year here in my first practice I went to cut and blew my whole knee out,” Butler said. “I went to the doctor … they cut me open, sawed some of my kneecap off and they put screws in it to keep it from shifting from side to side. They basically put screws in, taped me back up and it was brand new again.”

The rejuvenated knee helped her lead in minutes per game (27), points per game (13.8), while adding 95 steals.

“She was the most competitive person on our team,” Head Coach Gina Johnson said. “Sometimes to a fault, she would lose her temper when things didn’t go her way … but that drive to compete and expect more and never want to lose, we need more of that kind of attitude on my team every year because that’s what makes a lot of competitors fight and not want to lose and fight through when it’s tough or you have adversity.”

Tiara Tucker dribbles past half court as coach Johnson and team looks on at Joseph Blanchard Gymnasium. PHOTO BY RICHARD REYES
Tiara Tucker dribbles past half court as coach Johnson and team looks on at Joseph Blanchard Gymnasium. PHOTO BY RICHARD REYES

Sophomore guard Tucker, 19, is no stranger to adversity as her first season at the University of San Francisco was hampered by a nagging back injury, only allowing her to play in 13 games.

“She kind of made a premature commitment,” Johnson said. “She didn’t really visit a lot of schools so she went there and wasn’t really ready, it wasn’t a great fit for her and she got injured so she came back to us … with a desire to use Delta as a year stepping stone to a good fit at a four-year university and that’s what we’ve been able to do so overall that’s how here past came back to Stockton.”

Tucker transferred to Delta College where she averaged 13.3 points per game and a 43.3 shooting percentage from the field.

These efforts culminated in California Community College Athletic Association All-State honors for both players, and opened the door for Tucker who received a scholarship to play for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

“A junior college is not a stepdown, it’s more so just a way to realize if this is what you want to do. This is the best place to go because with the help of coach Johnson, she will get you anywhere you want to go and there’s no doubt about that at all,” Tucker said. “I’m hoping to bring in a lot of energy [to UNLV] and hopefully they’ll bring that family atmosphere as well.”