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Men’s basketball loses exhibition to Idaho

Jaryd Cline, Staff Reporter - November 6,2012

Despite 28 points from junior guard Mark McLaughlin, the Wildcats lost their first game of the season in a matchup against Division I University of Idaho last Friday.

The Wildcats, who finished with an overall record of 15-13 last year and 8-10 in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC), kept the score within single digits for the majority of the game.

However, the Vandals proved to be too much, winning 92-75.

The Wildcats trailed by four points heading into halftime. Central narrowed the score to 54-53 after a three-pointer from senior guard Jordan Coby. But three three-pointers and a 13-0 Vandals run over the next four minutes put the pressure back on the Wildcats.

The lead was cut back to single digits after a McLaughlin three-pointer with 8 minutes and 44 seconds remaining in the game, but the Vandals pulled away after finishing the game on a 20-11 run.

“The first half we played pretty well, but in the second half the game got a little away from us,” head coach Greg Sparling said. “We took some quick shots and they ran out on us and had a pretty good run.”

Aided by three starters who were 6-foot-8 or taller, the Vandals were able to open up a 44-31 divide on the boards.

“I’d say the only difference was the size of their players,” Coby said. “We tried to identify double-teaming their big men and sending more people to get rebounds.”

The Wildcats lost four starters from last year and must lean on only four remaining lettermen this season.

“It’s a new year and we have a different type of team,” Sparling said. “We have a little more athletic of a team and we got a lot more ways to score the basketball.”

McLaughlin, who led Tacoma Community College and the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges (NWAACC) in points last season, was expected to play a prominent role with the Division I University of Washington Huskies this season, before transferring to Central in August.

“I think he’s a very good basketball player and we’re fortunate to have him,” Sparling said. “I think he’s going to have some huge, huge nights for us. He just has a knack of finding ways to score in all different aspects, he can do it all. He’s going to make everyone around him that much better.”

McLaughlin shot 9-23 from the field, 6-7 from the charity stripe and totaled 28 points.
“I think we can be really really good,” McLaughlin said. “We’re not that big, but we’re scrappy and we play hard.”

The lone remaining starter from last year’s team, Jordan Coby, scored 14 points while shooting 5-10 and 3-6 from downtown. Redshirt junior forward Nate Walker led the Wildcats with six rebounds, while redshirt senior guard Jordan Starr dished out six assists and also finished with six points.

“It was really exciting and I was glad to be out there playing with my teammates,” McLaughlin said. “It was just a really fun experience.”

The Wildcats open the regular season next weekend with a pair of games at the Sodexo Tip-Off Classic at Seattle Pacific University.

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