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T-wolves set to resume preseason in Edmonton

The UNBC Timberwolves bit off a little more than they could chew on the women's basketball court at the Northern Sport Centre last weekend.

The UNBC Timberwolves bit off a little more than they could chew on the women's basketball court at the Northern Sport Centre last weekend.

The T-wolves played three exhibition games on the weekend, losing two to the Trinity Western Spartans -- 66-59 on Thursday, 79-73 on Friday -- followed by a Sunday morning 62-48 win over the Grande Prairie Wolves.

But it's still only the preseason and none of that matters in the standings for the Timberwolves. They've still got a month to work out the bugs in their gameplan before they start firing real bullets Nov. 7 in Kamloops.

"It was a pretty good weekend, we definitely developed as the games went on," said first-year guard Sarah Buckingham. "We're a pretty young team but I feel we're developing a lot and it will work out well soon.

"I think the second game we played against Trinity was our best, we were pretty close and we kept it close the whole time."

Neither team the T-wolves faced on the weekend are aligned with UNBC in the new six-team Canada West Explorer Division for teams which joined the CIS after 2004. The Spartans play in the 11-team Pioneer Division, for longer-established Canada West schools, while Grande Prairie is part of the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference.

Buckingham, 19, a native of Surrey who played high school ball last year for Lord Tweedsmuir, was impressed with the atmosphere in the NSC gym for the T-wolves' first games at home this season.

"It was good, there was actually a lot of people there for exhibition games, it was awesome," said Buckingham.

The T-wolves are in a rebuilding phase with four starting veterans -- Mercedes Van Koughnett, Emily Kaehn, Jen Bruce and Chelsey Thorne -- having graduated. Sarah Robin, their team captain and top shooter Thursday with 17 points, and Kellieanne Fluit are their only fifth-year players and there's one returning third-year player, Jasprit Nijjar from the team which finished fifth with a 6-16 record in the now defunct Pacific Division.

The weekend games primed the T-wolves' engines for this week's trip to Edmonton, where the preseason schedule continues with games against the University of Alberta Friday afternoon and Red Deer College Saturday morning

"We definitely could have played better, it was nice to see we had some good moments but were also some moments where we were super-scrambly and we weren't executing or picking up on D," said second-year post Emily Aase. "In our third quarter [Saturday against TWU] we fell apart, we weren't talking on defence or executing our plays or hustling back. They're a fast-break team and we didn't get back for that defence."

Mavia Niijer and rookie Vasiliki Louka each shot 18 points for UNBC in Friday's game.

Aase, a six-foot Prince George secondary school graduate, renewed old ties with Spartans forward Kayla Gordon, a former Cedars Christian Eagle, who hit for 10 points and six rebounds in Thursday's game and picked up eight points and eight assists in the rematch.

"She is a really good player, really aggressive and definitely gets those rebounds and takes the ball to the hoop, she's a really athletic girl," said Aase.

The UNBC men will also be Alberta for preseason games Friday afternoon against NAIT and Saturday afternoon against Mount Royal.