By Bud Milroy

Sports correspondent

The 2011-12 Catholic Central boys’ basketball team will be something of a work in progress.

After all, the Hilltoppers lost their entire starting lineup from last year’s sectional runner-up squad.

“This will be a learning year, as the kids buy into the system,” said CCHS head coach Eric Henderson. “I’m excited by the potential and I think we’ll be pretty tough as the season wears on and come tournament time.”

Seniors Abel Wagner and Rayce Wadsworth are the only returning players with any significant varsity playing time. Both were part of the seven- to eight-man rotation last year, and will need to step up and lead this young squad.

“Abel showed he could score for us at times last year, and will now have to step up and carry a much larger part of that load,” Henderson continued. “Rayce will need to be strong around the basket and contribute points as well.”

Seniors Colin Foote and Paul Lloyd each return with limited varsity experience from a year ago, but will likely crack the starting lineups at forward and guard, respectively. Providing backup will be seniors T.J. Walkington and Jeremy Lemke at guard.

Junior Keith Nielson will be in the post rotation with late varsity playing time last year.

Newcomers to the varsity team this year are Mark Bittmann – a junior guard – and a group of talented underclassmen that are lead by 6-5 sophomore Tegan Miles. The sophomore will likely start at forward, and Bailey Wright and Spencer Wilker will also factor in.

“Wilker will likely be first off the bench for us,” Henderson said. “He has good speed and can shoot. All of the kids will need to get used to the pace and the intensity of the game at the varsity level, and I expect they will as the season rolls on.

“Offensively, we’ll take what there but will push the ball when we can,” the coach added. “Defensively, we’re a little longer than we’ve been in the past and (I) think that will help us there and in rebounding.