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No P.G. trips for Canada West top rookie

Kayla Gordon missed out on home cooking this season as a Canada West basketball rookie for the Trinity Western University Spartans.

Kayla Gordon missed out on home cooking this season as a Canada West basketball rookie for the Trinity Western University Spartans.

The trip to back to her home in Prince George won't happen next season, or any other for that matter, unless the Spartans happen to meet the UNBC Timberwolves in the Canada West playoffs.

That's because the Canada West Universities Athletic Association has realigned its divisions.

"I really wanted to be able to play at home at least one year so that is kind of disappointing but I have so much love for the game so to play anywhere is great," said Gordon. "With technology now, games stream live so my family gets to watch my games."

The out-with-the-old, in-with-new concept approved a year ago by Canada West will group UNBC, University of the Fraser Valley, Mount Royal, Thompson Rivers University (TRU), UBC-Okanagan, and Grant MacEwan University (which begins its first CIS season in 2014). All of those schools joined the CIS in 2005 or later. They will play in the Explorer Division.

The other 11 older Canada West members will form the Pioneer Division, which will include Alberta, Brandon, Calgary, Lethbridge, Manitoba, Regina, Saskatchewan, Trinity Western, UBC, Victoria, and Winnipeg.

Each Canada West team will play a 20-game schedule, two more games than last season, but none of those games will cross divisions. That means none of the Pioneer Division teams will be coming to the Charles Jago Northern Sport Centre.

Critics of the new format say it will create an obvious recruiting disadvantage for the newer schools like UNBC, who have essentially been relegated to a junior varsity division and will no longer get to play the traditional Canada West powerhouse teams. UNBC, Mount Royal and Grant MacEwan, as probationary members of Canada West, did not get to vote on the realignment decision.

UNBC played Gordon's Spartans twice this past season in Langley and the T-wolves won both games. That happened early in the season and unfortunately for Gordon it won't happen again.

"We'll never play UNBC again unless we play in the playoffs," said Gordon. "I knew basically all of the UNBC players. I grew up with some of them and trained with them in the summer. The basketball community in Prince George is pretty close-knit."

Gordon is currently with the B.C. Selects taking part in a three-game series against the Japanese under-18 national women's basketball team, although she didn't play Wednesday night to attend the Trinity Western University Spartans athletic awards banquet. The 18-year-old centre was recognized for her contributions to the Spartans as a member of the CIS Canada West All-Rookie team.

Gordon planned to suit up for the B.C. Selects in Game 2 of the Japan series Thursday night in Langley and said she would play in the third game Saturday at UBC's War Memorial Gym.

Gordon, a three-time provincial silver medalist with the Cedars Christian Eagles, plans to return to Prince George to train this summer but won't be back until May 12. On April 28 Gordon will fly to Paraguay with her Spartan teammates as part of a two-week school mission. They'll play an exhibition game with the Paraguayan national team and will put on coaching clinics.

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