Experience and confidence will be the keys for the Battle Creek Central boys' basketball team.
Experience from having eight varsity players returning for the 2012-13 season.
And confidence from a summer where the Bearcats took on some of the top teams in the state and came away winners.
Battle Creek Central went 12-9 last season, but with the roster the Bearcats have coming back, they hope to take another step up this season.
"We have eight guys coming back. With that kind of veteran team, we feel comfortable and optimistic with what we have returning," BCC coach Greg Williams said.
With that squad, which includes six players who have started at one time or another, BCC went to several team camps over the summer and played point for point with some of the top big school teams in the state.
"This team is real competitive, they love to win. They really came together as brothers and really unified this summer," Williams said. "We had an outstanding summer. Went to Grand Valley (State University) camp and won the team championship and brought home the traveling trophy. Then we went to Michigan State team camp and there we only lost twice, the only two games we lost all summer, both in overtime."
The returning group is still heavy with juniors, but many have been in the program for a couple years, including third-year starting point guard Joe Bowser, who was an All-City member as a sophomore averaging 6.5 points and 4.5 assists last season.
Bowser sees a lot of potential in these Bearcats.
"We have a lot of guys coming back, which means a lot of experience. That gives us a lot of confidence going into the season, especially knowing how well we did over the summer at MSU and Grand Valley," Bowser said.
After Bower, the BCC backcourt continues to be deep with experience with returners Phillip Robinson and Mohammed Albagami - all three seeing a lot of playing time a year ago.
"When you have experienced guards like that, that's key," Williams said. "Everybody knows it starts with guard play and you can be optimistic about what you have to look forward to in the season."
Also coming back with starting experience is Trevin Alexander, Travis Skidmore and Mafiaion Joyner.
Alexander, with a nice soft shot, will patrol the paint for BCC in the frontcourt and likes how the offense is running currently.
"Our ball movement has been real good. We have guys knocking down shots, so if we get doubled in the paint, we are kicking it out to the shooters and they are knocking down shots with confidence because everybody is so comfortable with what we are doing," Alexander said.
BCC also adds some new faces to the mix with the kind of talent that could take them over the top.
Curtis Trigg, who played some on the varsity as a freshman, was out of the program last year, but returns. Denell Newson, who hasn't played in the program, could make an impact as a senior.
And David Templeton is a 6-foot-6 junior transfer in from Atlanta, who will give the Bearcats depth.
BCC hopes to contend in a deep Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference East Division, that includes perennial power Loy Norrix as well as solid squads in Lakeview, Gull Lake, Marshall, Harper Creek, Coldwater and Sturgis.
But the Bearcats also have aspirations to contend for academic honors in the state.
"With the 12 guys we have on the team, the team grade point average is 3.12 ," Williams said. "One of the challenges I have for this team is to maybe hang a banner up as one of the top academic teams in Class A. ."