Alaska sweep would give Wildcats third place
Chace Davy, Staff Reporter - January 30, 2013
The Central Washington University men’s basketball team is preparing for a frigid trip to Alaska over the weekend, as they start the second round of Great Northwest Athletic Conference play.
Anchorage (12-5, 5-4 GNAC) sits one spot ahead of Central(11-6, 5-4) in conference standings.
Junior guard Mark McLaughlin is coming off an outstanding performance against Northwest Nazarene last week, when he combined with fellow junior center Kevin Davis for 47 of Central’s 81 points.
“McLaughlin gets better and better each day,” Head Coach Greg Sparling said.
McLaughlin is in his first year of GNAC play, and is excited to make the trip to Alaska.
“I’m adjusting,” McLaughlin said. “I’m getting better each day and working hard.”
McLaughlin attributes much of his recent success to Davis’ ability to draw defenses away to free him up.
The Wildcats suffered their first home loss of the season earlier this year against Fairbanks. McLaughlin scored 25 points in that game.
Last year’s Wildcats were only able to win one game out of four against the Alaska teams, but Sparling is confident this year’s team will have more success.
“We’re playing a lot more together,” Sparling said. “We’re sharing the ball better than we were last year.”
After the Anchorage game, the Wildcats will travel to Fairbanks to take on the Nanooks.
Central only shot 2-12 from 3 point range at Fairbanks last year.
Fairbanks is also 5-4 in the GNAC, but they have one less out-of-conference win.
Central is going to need to tighten up its defensive schemes if they want to have more success than they did earlier in the year.
The Wildcats have had mixed results when they’ve travelled to Alaska. They have a 5-5 record against Fairbanks in their last 10 meetings in Fairbanks. Over that same span,
Central is a measly 3-7 when playing in Anchorage.
Sparling believes this year’s team has the talent to win upcoming games on the road, despite the tough conditions of playing away from home.
“[Anchorage] is one of the loudest stadiums we play in all year,” Sparling said. “Then we go all the way to Fairbanks, which looks on tape like they’re getting a lot bigger crowds.”
A win in both games would put Central at 7-4 in conference play, which would put them at least a game ahead of both Alaska teams in the GNAC.
“If everything goes the way we want it to we could be sitting in third place at the end of the trip,” McLaughlin said.
The goal for Central is always to win a conference title, which is held by Western, which has a 9-0 conference record. The Wildcats suffered a last-second loss to the Vikings earlier in the season.