By Bud Milroy

Sports correspondent

Pretty much to a person, the 2010-11 girls’ basketball season was a bit of a disappointment for the Catholic Central High School Lady ’Toppers.

The group never reached a consistent level of play. The team won the WIAA Division 5 Fort Atkinson regional before losing to state qualifier Black Hawk, though, and this year’s team returns all but one starter from last year.

In spite of the loss of standout Caitlyn Snyder, the returnees and a strong group of talented underclassmen stands ready to help pull the team together.

“We have a very deep squad (11 members) with a lot of varsity experience (eight returning letterwinners), and I plan to use them all throughout the game,” said first-year head coach Jeff Behrens, who takes over for Todd Willems. “This is a very athletic group and somewhat interchangeable.”

Leading the team will be 5-6 senior guard Allie Hocking, the team’s leading scorer a year ago. She will be joined by fellow seniors Amanda Koenen, Erin Bittmann and Chirissa Zirbel.

Junior guards Kelly Gould and Kelsey Robers, both starters a year ago are back along with  Maggie Smith, a center/forward and guard Ali Wiemer – both of whom saw significant varsity time last year.

Rounding out the squad will be junior Maggie Cash and sophomores Sophie Foote and Megan Wadsworth – who all saw some varsity time late last year and are expected to contribute in a large way this year.

“We’ll change a few things on offense this year and look to be a little more up-tempo,” said Behrens.

The Lady ’Toppers are also looking to solidify their defense, as it allowed more than 51 points per game on average last year.

The Lady ’Toppers opened their season Monday by blasting Big Foot, 74-27, opening the game with 14 unanswered points and a 25-3 first-quarter lead.