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Seniors Hokanson, Gosal lead TWolves past Griffins in final game

Graduating fifth-years Saje Gosal and Anthony Hokanson combined for 40 points on Senior Night, leading the University of Northern British Columbia Timberwolves to a 99-80 win over the Grant MacEwan Griffins in the season finale, on Saturday, February 8th in Prince George, B.C.

“It felt very free. The news of missing playoffs last night was unfortunate, but we all committed to come out tonight and play hard as we can,” said Hokanson. “Play as free as we can, and have as much as fun as we can, and I think we did that tonight.”

In the first quarter, it was the veterans Gosal and Hokanson setting the tone. Hokanson made a three-pointer on the first possession, and Gosal made one just one minute later, as the Timberwolves got out to an early lead. The Griffins settled in and chipped away at the lead as Abdullah Shittu and Jake Notice did most of the damage. After ten minutes, it was 22-21 on favour of the home TWolves.

In the second quarter, the roof nearly came off the Northern Sport Centre. Freshman sensation Fareed Shittu hammered down two dunks and blocked two shots, which thrilled the Prince George crowd. From there, the TWolves built momentum, as Vova Pluzhnikov, Tyrell Laing, Gosal and Hokanson all made treys. When Tyrell Laing’s buzzer beating three swished through the net, UNBC’s lead had grown to 57-42.

“It was amazing. It was so much fun. The guys worked so hard for us, and I appreciated it so much,” said Gosal. “Anthony and I were able to hit some shots early, and then we all rode a wave together. The energy of the crowd, the city, and all the players. It was really special.”

The Griffins started to claw back in the third, as Deonte Doslov-Doctor, playing in his final Canada West game, was able to convert a pair of three-pointers, and Shittu threw down a thunderous dunk of his own. However, the Timberwolves had answers at the other end, as freshman Shittu and Saymon Loki crashed the glass and created opportunities at the rim. UNBC held a 77-65 lead with ten minutes to go.

The fourth quarter looked similar to the third, as Doslov-Doctor continued to fire away in his farewell, as did his UNBC counterparts playing their final game. The TWolves did enough to sustain the lead, ending the year on a positive note with a 99-80 victory.

“It was definitely a green light for me today, one hundred percent,” said Doslov-Doctor, postgame. “I wanted to go out with a bang. We wanted to make it a fun day, and hopefully go out with a win.”

Hokanson led the way with 23 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 assists, while Gosal added 17 points. Laing had 20 points and 3 assists, while Pluzhnikov went for 20 points, 5 boards, and 7 assists. The four combined to make 16 three-pointers on 32 attempts. Shittu chipped in with a 10 point, 13 rebounds, 4 block day.

“I am going to miss that feeling before the game on Friday or Saturday, an hour bedfore, getting those juices flowing,” said Hokanson, postgame. “There is nothing like it, and I don’t know if anything will ever replace that to be honest.”

Notice led the way for the Griffins with 25 points and 5 rebounds. Doslov-Doctor had 18 points and 6 rebounds, while Shittu added 15 points and 7 rebounds.

“I am going to miss being around the team,” said Doslov-Doctor. “It has been really good. I am really happy to help our young guys wherever I can. I love everything about basketball. Shooting threes, running the floor, playing defense. I just love the game.”

“I am going to remember my teammates,” said Gosal. “My teammates stepping up and being special people off the court, and making special plays on the court.”

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