The562’s season previews for the 2022-23 school year are sponsored by Vertical Raise, the official team fundraising partner of The562.
There were plenty of questions about how St. Anthony’s boys’ basketball team would continue to compete after the departure of head coach Allen Caveness prior to last season. Caveness, who is now an assistant coach at Long Beach State, built the Saints into an Open Division squad that was the best in the city.
First-year head coach Alan Mitchell and his staff answered those questions last season. The Saints finished 18-10 but made it all the way to the CIF-SS Division 1 semifinals, earning a berth into the CIF State playoffs as well.
Most of the players from that team graduated, however, and the Saints will look to reload this year with a younger squad that has a high ceiling.
“It’s a really different roster but our culture is our culture,” said Mitchell. “We have to get up and down the floor and want to defend and get a lot of deflections, and turn our defense into offense. We have quite a few guys who can score the basketball, but we want to get up and down and test people’s toughness.”
A pair of Servite transfers, Tyler Small and Aaron Montez, are the only seniors likely to see the floor in the early-going, while the team awaits injury news on football standout Alex Cobbs. Amaan Zavahir (pictured) is a junior wing in his third season on varsity. Quincy Phillips, a Gardena transfer, will be an important backcourt contributor for the Saints. Freshman shooting guard Joseph Wicker is one to watch, as Mitchell has high expectations for him.
“We’re really young, but for the next two to three years we’ll have six to eight returners,” said Mitchell. “It’s going to come with bumps and bruises. These young guys are going to be in atmospheres they haven’t been in. You can’t imitate the Del Rey League, playing at Bishop Montgomery and St. Bernard and Cathedral and Serra.”
With an eye towards seasoning his young players, Mitchell put together a challenging summer and fall schedule that saw his Saints playing in tournaments in Las Vegas, or anywhere they could get a strong emotional challenge.
“From a program standpoint as a staff, we know we’ll be prepared and we’ll put together gameplans that will give us a chance to win games,” said Mitchell. “We’ve said all offseason--there’s no such thing as a rebuild, there’s no letdown. Why can’ they get it done as sophomores and juniors? There’s no reason why they can’t.”
The Saints started the season 2-0 and will play plenty of local games this year. They travel to Wilson on Dec. 2 and face Poly in a neutral site game on Jan. 21. They open league play in January on the road against St. Paul, and the first game at Errion Gym (with the Saints’ award winning student section, The Pit) will be against Loyola on Dec. 14.Mitchell’s Saints team is young, but they’ve had success already and he feels optimistic about their chances to grow this year.
“We laid a strong foundation last year,” he said. “We’ll create our own momentum this year.”