Progress, improvement and on the rise!

These words describe the competitiveness of the UNBC Timberwolves in Canada West basketball and soccer.

The Timberwolves were bottom feeders when they entered Canada’s big leagues of University sports in 2012.

It has been a bit of a slow climb, but nearly seven years later, the UNBC sports teams are trending upwards.

Players who come to Prince George have always been appreciative of the fan support (crowds at the Northern Sport Centre are larger than many other teams) but now they also get to play for a team that has a chance to win.

No longer can opposition teams play the Timberwolves assuming a “W” is assured.

The UNBC women’s basketball team scored its first-ever playoff victory this month, 80-78 over Trinity Western.

They did so in dramatic style closing with a 12-2 run.

In that game, Maria Mongomo had a conference-high 29 points, including the game-winning bucket in the final minute to earn Canada West third star of the week honours.

The Timberwolves reached the Canada West quarterfinals for the first time meaning they were top-eight out of 17 teams.

The Calgary Dinos extended their win streak to 17 games by eliminating UNBC 81-58 and 92-55 in Calgary.

The UNBC women finished the regular season 11-9 in 2018-19, their best record ever.

UNBC women’s basketball records:
2012-2013: 8-14
2013-2014: 6-16
2014-2015: 2-18 (Explorer Division)
2015-2016: 3-17
2016-2017: 6-14 *Made Playoffs
2017-2018: 9-11 *Made Playoffs
2018-2019: 11-9 *Made Playoffs

The UNBC men’s basketball team won nine of 20 regular season games in 2018-19 before dropping a close 67-59 decision to the sixth seeded Fraser Valley Cascades in Abbotsford in the first round of the playoffs.

Last year, the UNBC men upset the host Winnipeg Wesmen 71-68 to advance to the quarterfinals where they lost to top-ranked Alberta 80-41.

UNBC men’s basketball records:
2012-2013: 6-16
2013-2014: 5-17 (Pacific Division)
2014-2015: 12-8 (Explorer Division) *Made Playoffs
2015-2016: 4-16 (Explorer Division)
2016-2017: 4-16
2017-2018: 10-10 *Made Playoffs
2018-2019: 9-11 *Made Playoffs

Note: The Explorer Division in 14-15 and 15-16 (UNBC, Fraser Valley, Thompson Rivers, Mount Royal, MacEwan and UBC Okanagan) could be considered a “B’ Division because the more established Universities like UBC, Alberta, Calgary and Saskatchewan all played in the Pioneer Division.

The UNBC women’s soccer team, despite a 3-8-3 regular season in 2018, posted its first playoff victory upsetting Manitoba 2-1 in Winnipeg.

The Timberwolves were eliminated two days later in the quarterfinals with a 3-1 loss at UBC.

UNBC women’s soccer records:
2012: 0-9-3
2013: 1-9-2
2014: 1-9-2
2015: 1-10-3
2016: 0-12-1
2017: 3-7-4
2018: 3-8-3 *Made Playoffs

The UNBC men’s soccer team has 10 wins, 9 losses and 12 ties over the past two seasons.

Despite going 5-4-6, they barely missed the 2018 playoffs although Thompson Rivers advanced from the same Pacific Division with arguably a worse record (6-6-3).

The Timberwolves did qualify for the post-season the year before compiling a 5-5-6 record in 2017. (They lost in the quarterfinals 3-0 against Alberta).

UNBC men’s soccer records:
2012: 1-13
2013: 2-9-3
2014: 3-9
2015: 1-10-1
2016: 4-10-2
2017: 5-5-6 *Made Playoffs
2018: 5-4-6

(Records are courtesy of the Canada West website and UNBC Sports Information Officer Rich Abney)

It is not realistic to expect UNBC to win a Canada West title.

The much bigger schools have far too many advantages.

The Timberwolves though have reached a point where they have enjoyed some success and depending on the year and the sport are on even footing with Universities of similar size.

UNBC has also had a number of individual players receive Canada West awards, another sign that the Timberwolves are on the U Sports map.

Much sought after sports respectability appears to have arrived at UNBC.

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This is Week 21 of ‘Hartley’s Cat Scan.’

The podcast, introduced in September, predominately features the Prince George Cougars.

My guest this week is Greg Gardner who is the Cougars all-time leader in games played and is now with the WHL front office as Director, Operations & Education Services.

You can also find this podcast on iTunes, Spotify, Google, Stitcher, and TuneIn.

FROM THE QUOTE RACK:

There were no NBA games to watch for a week because of the All-Star Break. So all basketball fans got a taste of what it’s like to root for the New York Knicks.

*Comedy writer Janice Hough of Palo Alto, California www.leftcoastsportsbabe.com

The New York Mets GM says Tim Tebow is just one-step away from the Majors. Which means another demotion and he will be the Mets starting first baseman.

*Comedy writer Jim Barach http://jokesbyjim.blogspot.ca/

You can now bet on The Oscars in New Jersey. At least you stand a better chance of winning than placing your money on the Edmonton Oilers.

*Comedy writer Tony Chong

There’s been discussion and speculation that Colin Kaepernick could take over for GOAT Tom Brady in New England when Tom retires. Isn’t that like Taylor Swift turning it over to Pia Zadora?

*Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California

The (boys) basketball team at tiny Power (Mont.) High School features three sets of twins on its 10-player roster. In other words, a triple-double.

*Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times http://www.seattletimes.com/author/dwight-perry/

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

A friend was in Paris recently, and said the Louvre museum was so big she had trouble finding her way out. I said there must be 50 ways to leave your Louvre.

*Canadian comedy writer RJ Currie www.Sportsdeke.com

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Hartley Miller is the sports director and morning news anchor for 94.3 the GOAT.
He also is the 94.3 radio colour commentator for P.G. Cougars home games.
His column appears Fridays on myprincegeorgenow.com.
Send along a quote, note, or anecdote to hmiller@thegoatrocks.ca.
Follow him on Twitter: @Hartley_Miller
Listen to him on his weekly podcast: Hartley’s Cat Scan.