St. Anthony is hoping to bounce back from a disappointing season last year. The Saints finished fourth in the Del Rey league with a 2-6 record, going 11-16 overall.
Head Coach Ray Bennett has confidence that his team will be able to overcome last season’s struggles. More than half of the Saints’ roster is made up of upperclassmen, who bring much needed experience to the group.
“This season, we are a mature team,” Bennett said. “They understand how to win close games, something we struggled with last season.”
One of the key returners for St. Anthony is senior captain Ryann Bennett. Bennett joined the 1000 point club as a junior prior to committing to UC Davis at the start of her senior year. Her accolades also include being a three-time First-Team All Del Rey League player, and two-time second team all CIF player. She was also the 2023 Long Beach Century Club St. Anthony Girls’ Athlete of the Year.
Ryann Bennett still has a bitter taste in her mouth from last season, and is coming hungry for more wins this year.
“We’re going to come back really aggressive,” Bennett said. “Our defense is really aggressive and that just converts to a lot of offensive points.”
Joining Bennett is fellow senior MeLaiah Joseph, who is a two-time second team All Del Rey League player. Coach Bennett says Joseph is closing in on the 1000 point club this season.
Coming off a shoulder injury and back onto the court is sophomore guard Laila Hughes. Bennett says Hughes will be a huge impact player this season.
Some fresh faces are also representing St. Anthony this winter. Freshman Ava Washington is bringing athleticism as a wing player with a nice shooting touch, Bennett said.
The Saints also gained a huge competitor when Kadence Lloyd transferred in from Bishop Montgomery. Lloyd is a 5’10” guard who can play multiple positions effectively, Bennett said.
“She brings leadership and a well-rounded game,” Bennett said. “We anticipate she will be an All League selection this year.”
All of these players are coming together to cultivate an environment centered around unity.
“The culture thus far has been more ‘we over me,’” Bennett said. “The entire team holds each other accountable, and the expectation to win was implemented during the offseason.”
St. Anthony has some strong goals for the season. Ryann Bennett says the Saints have their eyes on some hardware.
“We definitely want to win a ring. We want to win the Del Rey League,” Bennett said. “We want to go far, as long as we make the playoffs. That’s our first goal and then seeing how far we could get, because we’ve put in a lot of work just in the offseason.”
While statistically aiming to minimize turnovers and capitalize on rebounds to help win games, Coach Bennett is also striving to build initiative in each player on his squad.
“I encourage leadership from every team member,” Bennett said. “From maintaining a winning attitude to being selfless and allowing themselves to be of service to others on the team, as well as fellow students on campus.”
The Saints hope to use their speed and high basketball IQ to their advantage in all competitions, especially when trying to reach these goals. No matter what, St. Anthony will be a fun team to watch.
“If we’re lucky enough to stay healthy, we’ll be a formidable opponent in the Del Rey League and CIF division,” Bennett said.