Catholic Central Boys Basketball Preview

Injuries have plagued early season for Toppers

Bennett Wright soars to the hoop Tuesday at Waterford. Despite holding a 22-19 lead in the first quarter, the Wolverines rallied to pull away for a 65-54 win in the season opener for both teams. (Rick Benavides/SLN)



By Mike Ramczyk

It seems the injuries that ended up causing the Catholic Central football to forfeit the remainder of its season have leaked into the boys basketball campaign.

Fourth-year head coach Kyle Scott says a rash of injuries have slowed things in the first few weeks for the Toppers, but he’s confident the young Toppers can persevere and be ready come playoff time in March.

A squad two years removed from a WIAA Division 5 state runner-up finish suffered a 2-14 Metro Classic Conference record last season and an 8-15 mark overall.

With a strong number of 25 kids in the program considering Catholic Central has 130 students, senior guard Frank Koehnke (17 points, 5 rebounds last year) will lead what Scott calls a “very young” team.

“We are a very young team and have had a rash of injuries,” he said. “If we can get healthy and get our talented sophomores up to speed, we can be solid come playoff time.”

At 17.6 points per game, Koehnke was the only Toppers to average double digits in scoring last season, and the next best returning scorer is senior guard John Pum at 4.8.

Other key returning seniors are forwards Tyler Rieck and Luke Heiligenthal along with guard Charles Robinson.

The talented sophomore class includes newcomers Chas Miles at forward and Bennett Wright and Brandon Pum at guard, while juniors Tyler Shaw and Marcus Robinson are two juniors new to varsity.

With their tallest player at only 6-foot-2, the Toppers will rely on their energy and outside shooting this season.

The team must replace offensive ignitor Aaron Rueber, a three-year starter at point guard who made the team go, and two-year starter Cole Pankau.

Senior Chad Zirbel, who injured his knee football in the fall and would’ve been a key contributor for the basketball team, will miss the season due to surgery.

Koehnke (second team) and Rueber (honorable mention) were All-Area picks a year ago.

Scott said instead of worrying about where the team will finish in the conference, improvement will be key.

“We want to be competitive every night,” he said. “We want to improve every game getting ready for March.”

While the Toppers face a strong conference with larger schools and could struggle in conference, Scott wants to have to team poised to make a playoff run, when the Toppers will face similar-sized schools.

Scott said challenges this season will include overcoming youth and injuries and finding inside scoring.




December – 1: at Union Grove. 5: MARTIN LUTHER. 8: KENOSHA ST. JOSEPH. 12: at Dominican. 15: PRAIRIE SCHOOL. 18: at Thomas More. January – 5: at Racine St. Cat’s. 8: FAITH CHRISTIAN. 13: at Racine Lutheran. 19: SHORELAND LUTHERAN. 20: OAKFIELD. 23: at Kenosha St. Joe’s. 27: DOMINICAN. 30: at Prairie School. February – 2: THOMAS MORE. 6: ST. CAT’S. 8: at Martin Luther. 10: Homestead tournament. 13: RACINE LUTHERAN. 19: LAKE COUNTRY LUTHERAN. 22: at Shoreland Lutheran.