Ada's MacCollister, Caufield grab All-Area top honors

May 13—The Ada High School boys basketball team was knocking on the door to the Class 4A State Tournament at the end of the 2022-23 season but couldn't quite get through.

Standing in the Cougars' way was Douglass, the eventual Class 4A State champion, and a sixth-ranked Newcastle club that sought revenge on Ada after losing to the same AHS squad the week before.

It was still a great season for Ada, which won 20 games and ended the season playing some of its best basketball. It also led to the Ada High basketball program sweeping the Ada News All-Area Boys Basketball's top two awards. Kyle Caufield was named the 2023 Ada News All-Area Coach of the Year and junior point guard Devon MacCollister was chosen as the Ada News All-Area Boys Player of the Year.

"The ultimate goal is always to get there (the state tournament), but we had a great season. I thought we did a good job of giving ourselves a great shot to get there," Caufield said.

The Cougars started peaking at just about the right time and Caufield said it started during his team's appearance at the Titan Classic hosted by Carl Albert High School.

Ada opened the tournament with a tough 54-50 loss to private school power Destiny Christain.

The Cougars then topped Class 5A No. 17 Glenpool 52-40 and won the consolation championship after disposing of Class 5A No. 12 Tahlequah 49-41. That same Tahlequah club went on to earn a spot at the Class 5A State Tournament before being eliminated by top-ranked Carl Albert.

"Our schedule usually prepares us to go on a run late in the season. I think we started to turn the corner when we went to Carl Albert," Caufield said.

That started Ada on a streak where the Cougars won 10 of their next 12 games heading into the Class 4A Area Tournament in Stroud. One of those two losses was a 73-71 setback to McAlester that should have been a victory. The Buffaloes sank a half-court shot at the end that left the shooter's hand about a second and a half too late but was ruled good by game officials. The other AHS loss during that stretch was a 47-39 road setback to Class 3A No. 2 Millwood.

"From that point on, our kids knew they could play with anybody if we were on our game. At the end of the year, we started clicking on all cylinders. That's when you want to be playing your best and we were," Caufield said.

MacCollister was a big part of it all. The talented guard also started playing his best basketball of the year near the end of the season. And the Cougars went as he went.

"He's played well every year but I thought he improved a lot this year. We got to watch him take that next step. Later on in the year he kind of got on a streak and started playing really well," Caufield said.

MacCollister averaged 15.4 points per game and ended the season with 76 assists, 56 steals and even averaged 4.2 rebounds while standing at 5-9. During Ada's tough playoff draw, which included an emotional district matchup with rival Ardmore, No. 11 Perkins-Tryon and the two beasts mentioned previously, MacCollister improved his offensive production to 18 points per outing. He also sank a sizzling 14-of-23 3-point shots (60.9%) during the postseason run.

Caufield believes MacCollister could have scored even more, but he didn't need to. Teammates Jack Morris, Andrew Hughes and Carter Colombe all averaged double figures for Ada and could have led the team in scoring on any given night.

"His shooting really improved — really it was his confidence to shoot it. He's so unselfish so he was never thinking he needed to get a lot of shots up. He wants to get everyone else involved but he can definitely score the basketball," Caufield said.

Caufield said MacCollister has all the tools you'd want in a point guard.

"One of the big things he does is handles the basketball really well. And he has great court vision," he said

"He shoots it well. He attacks downhill well. He finishes around the rim. There's not much that he can't do," Caufield continued. "The point guard is always your focal point. If you have good guard play, you usually have a chance to make a deep run in the playoffs. Your guards control everything for you and he does a great job of that."

Since earning playing time as a freshman, Caufield has also watched MacCollister grow as a leader.

"His leadership has also really improved. He's gotten more vocal, which is good, but he also leads by example," he said. "It doesn't get much better than that."

The Cougars defeated Newcastle in overtime before a raucous crowd at Harrah High School to win a Class 4A Regional championship. It was a classic and one of the highlights of the season for Ada.

"That was a really big game and we knew it would be going in. Newcastle had been ranking around the Top 5 all year. They had a great team," Caufield said.

"We did a good job of keeping our composure. You felt like you had it won in regulation and then they went down and tied it and sent the game to overtime," he explained. "We very easily could have put our heads down and lost it but they didn't. They responded well and went out and got a victory. We put ourselves in a situation of being one win from the state tournament and that's what you play for."

In the area tournament, Ada went toe-to-toe with Douglass before some uncharacteristic turnovers proved costly in the second half of a 48-38 loss.

"Our kids have a lot of resolve. They get up for those types of games. I'd put our kids up against anyone. I tell them that all the time. We can beat anyone if we go play," Caufield said. "And we were right there with them. It came down to a couple of possession here and there."

Caufield said he believed going into the season his squad had the right pieces to have a successful year.

"I knew going in we would have the makeup to give ourselves a shot to make a good run in the playoffs. We had a lot of experience coming back. We just had to put it all together and we did that," he said.