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(Photo Credit: Adam Gagnon)
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BASK teams set to kick off season vs Algoma
WATERLOO, Ont. (November 1, 2013) - After a month of exhibition games, the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks women's and men's basketball teams are ready to kick off the 2013-14 regular season when they host the Algoma Thunderbirds at the Athletic Complex on Friday night. 

The women's game is set for tipoff at 6 p.m. while the men's game goes at 8 p.m. Both games will also be webcast live on Hawk TV and audiocast on RadioLaurier.com. One lucky fan will also have the opportunity to bowl for $10,000 during halftime of the men's game.

The Laurier women head into this season with a veteran group of players who will be looking to build upon their fifth place finish in the OUA West division from a year ago. The Hawks posted an 11-10 record in 2012-13 before bowing out in the OUA West Quarter-finals at the hands of the Western Mustangs. 

Only two players graduated from the Hawks last year meaning the purple and gold have a strong veteran core in place. Leading the way will be a number of fourth year players including Doreen Bonsu of Oakville, Ont., Kimberley Yeldon of Ottawa, Laura Doyle of Guelph, Ont., and Whitney Ellenor of Pickering, Ont. Although Ellenor is out for the first couple weeks of the season with an injury, this group has the experience in the OUA to help this team climb the standings this year.

Complementing the veterans is a group of young, talented players that are poised to breakout this year. Second year guard Kaitlyn Schenck of Kitchener, Ont., was a member of the OUA West All-Rookie team in 2012-13 despite battling injuries all year long while second year forward Heather Payne of North Bay, Ont., has played some big minutes for the Hawks in the preseason.

The rookie class this year features three players who have already established themselves as contributing factors for the Hawks. Guards SARAH DILLON of Welland, Ont., and Nicole Morrison of Hamilton, along with forward Alexandra Spadaro of Grimsby, Ont., have all played key minutes for Head Coach Paul Falco's squad with Dillon and Spadaro leading the offensive charge in many games during non-conference play.

Looking at the men's team, the Hawks come into the year after struggling through much of last season before turning it on late in the year to post an 8-13 record, good for fourth in the OUA West division. Laurier would host the Brock Badgers in the OUA West Quarter-finals but for the second straight year, failed to advance as they were eliminated on home court.

Like the women, the men return a majority of their players from a year ago as they lost no one due to graduation. Expected to lead the way for the Golden Hawks in 2013-14 will be a trio of guards including Max Allin of Chatham, Ont., Will Coulthard of Oakville, Ont., and Jamar Forde of Mississauga, Ont. 

Allin, coming off a year in which he led the nation in scoring and was Top 10 in both rebounding and assists, will be the cornerpiece of this team but will have much more support this year. Coulthard finished 2012-13 in the Top 5 in OUA scoring and is a dangerous weapon for Laurier from behind the three point line while Forde provides consistent offence and defence for the purple and gold.

One other returning player to keep an eye on will be Matthew Chesson of Whitby, Ont. The 6-8 centre had a strong rookie campaign and was named to the OUA West All-Rookie team. With the sophomore having added significant bulk in the offseason, look for his continued presence in the low post and on the defensive end of the floor.

The Hawks also have a very talented group of incoming rookies that will look to make an immediate impact this season. Leading that group is Jack Simmons of Cambridge, Ont., a 6-8 forward who can shoot the ball and also play in the post. Simmons was a highly-touted recruit who had interest from the NCAA but chose to stay in Canada. 

He is joined by another local product in forward Vladimir Matovic of Kitchener, Ont., and guard James Agyeman of Toronto, as players who will play key roles for the Hawks this year.

Following Laurier's home openers on Friday night, the Hawks will continue their season opening weekend at home on Saturday afternoon against the Laurentian Voyageurs.

Tickets for Friday's and Saturday's games are available online at tickets.laurierathletics.com or at the Athletic Complex prior to the games. Tickets are $8 for adults, $2 for Laurier students and $5 for seniors and other students. Fans are also reminded to enter the Athletic Complex through the recently-opened and newly-renovated main entrance to the building.
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