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Alumni best young Timberwolves on court

If there's one word to describe UNBC's women's basketball team, it's young. Head coach Sergey Shchepotkin said his squad is "super young.

If there's one word to describe UNBC's women's basketball team, it's young.

Head coach Sergey Shchepotkin said his squad is "super young."

That's what happens when four of your top players - Jen Bruce, Mercedes Van Koughnett, Emily Kaehn and Chelsey Thorne - graduated with their degrees last spring.

Those four were on the court at the Northern Sport Centre Saturday night, only this time as part of the Timberwolves alumni taking on the current 2014-15 lineup in the annual alumni game.

The alumni won the contest 61-50.

"It's difficult to change four players who were all leaders of the team," said Shchepotkin after Saturday's game. "The new group of players are mostly all out of high school. Ninety per cent of our team are first and second-year [players], we have one third-year player [Jasprit Nijjar] and two-fifth year players [Sarah Robin, Kellieanne Fluit]. But I'm excited about the season, they're a good group of girls."

Among Shchepotkin's new class is Vasiliki Loukas, an 18-year-old six-foot-three post player right out of high school from Greece. Her older brother Vaggelis is a newcomer on the men's basketball squad.

Sarah Buckingham is a guard from Langley; Stacey Graham is a third-year transfer student from North Vancouver's Capilano University, and Nicole Boon is a six-foot forward from Kelowna.

Point guard Hannah Pudlas joins the team straight out of Cedars Christian School.

After three weeks of straight practice, the alumni game was the first real competition for the Timberwolves as they prepare to compete in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport Canada West Conference.

"Besides teaching the game and tactics, we need to work on the fundamentals and explain the differences between high school and CIS, that it's tough and fast," said Shchepotkin. "They played against leaders on previous Timberwolves' teams [Saturday night] and it will definitely take time to gain experience but I have big hopes in them."

CIS Canada West realigned its divisions in June and UNBC will now compete in the new Explorer Division that includes UBC Okanagan (Kelowna), Thompson Rivers University (Kamloops), University of the Fraser Valley (Abbotsford), Mount Royal University (Calgary), and MacEwan University (Edmonton).

Teams will play each other four times over the course of the regular season with the top teams crossing over to compete against those from the newly realigned Pioneers Division.

The T-wolves will begin their CIS pre-season this week when Langley's Trinity Western Spartans (who compete in the Pioneers Division) pay a visit to the NSC Thursday (8 p.m. tip-off), and Friday (6 p.m.). The Grande Prairie Regional College Wolves are in town Sunday for a 10 a.m. tip-off.

UNBC will then travel to Edmonton on Monday for a three-game tournament at the Saville Centre on the University of Alberta campus.

The T-wolves have a bye on opening weekend - Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 and hit the road to Kamloops Nov. 7 and 8 to battle Thompson Rivers University.