The562’s season previews for the 2022-23 school year are sponsored by Vertical Raise, the official team fundraising partner of The562.
Expectations are high at St. Anthony, where Ray Bennett’s Saints have been moved to the CIF-SS Division 2AA level. The Saints have arguably the best player in the city and a talented young group as well, with a legitimate chance to win a league championship.
“Expectations are high for sure,” said Bennett. “The goal is to win league this year and to show we belong up in Division 1.”
The unquestioned leader of the Saints this year and perhaps the best player in all of Long Beach is junior point guard Ryann Bennett, an electric scorer who’s put up 24 and 35 points in the Saints’ first two games. Bennett has scholarship offers from UC Davis, UCSD, Loyola Marymount, and other mid-majors and could take a leap recruiting-wise this season.
“She’s our primary, everything goes through her and she has the ball in her hands every play obviously,” said Bennett.
But the Saints’ star is not on an island. Freshman guard Laila Hughes is a big pickup for St. Anthony, and the talented backcourt is filled out by junior slasher Melaiah Joseph, who had a great sophomore campaign last year aside Bennett.
The frontcourt talent is sophomore Anaya Tunu, a 5-11 post who can do all the dirty work rebounding as well as scoring the ball.
“She’s been working on her outside game and can move away from the basket some this year,” said Bennett. “We’re looking forward to her continuing to be a dominant rebounder and being able to ignite the break. She’s a really good passer in the halfcourt as well so we use her a lot in that role.”
The fifth starter will likely depend on matchups but forward Monica Sexton is a good frontcourt player with a mid-range shot, and for smaller opponents guard Kaylah Cannon can give the Saints a four-guard look. Cannon was the team’s sixth-man spark last year.
The Saints are in the Del Rey League with Sera, Bishop Montgomery, St. Paul, and La Salle. It’s a solid league where any team is capable of winning on any night, but the Saints figure to have a strong chance to win it, and secure a good seed for the Division 1 playoffs.