After coming within one win of a boys’ state basketball tournament berth in 2012-13, the Ada Cougars are poised for further success in 2013-14.
The Cougars, 18-11 a year ago, welcome back three starters and appear to have more depth as they launch the season as the No. 1 seed on Thursday, Dec. 5, against Chandler at 6 p.m. in the Oklahoma Baptist University Bison Invitational in Shawnee.
“We can go 8-deep, which is something we didn’t have last year,” said Ron Anderson, who is heading into his sixth season as Ada’s head coach. “Last year, we could only go six-deep. We’ve got more coming off the bench to help us this year.”
It’s been a fairly long dry spell for the Cougars, who haven’t been to state since 2001, but Anderson believes his Cougars have an excellent chance of taking that next step.
“This year we expect good things and it could possibly be the best team we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Anderson said.
Ada’s three returning starters include: 6-foot, 7-inch junior Cory Kilby and the senior tandem of 5-10 guard Walker Whitworth and 6-7 forward David Forbes.
Kilby had a magnificent sophomore campaign last season in which he averaged 20.3 points and 10.0 rebounds per game. He also shot 63 percent from the floor and 75 percent from the free-throw line.
“Cory is obviously our cornerstone. He does so many things. But the one thing that stands out is that he’s coachable,” said Anderson. “He has become a leader by example and a leader on the floor. He’s very humble and he doesn’t let things get in the way of his ultimate goals of winning ball games.”
Kilby’s best game last season was a 35-point, nine-rebound and three-block performance against McAlester.
Anderson says Kilby has developed into a better, bigger and stronger player after playing for the Oklahoma Phenoms’ 16-17 year-old AAU team over the summer.
Whitworth, who is expected to play the two-guard this year, shot 43 percent from the field and 79 percent from the line in 2012-13, while averaging 9.8 points and 2.6 boards. His best game last season was 19 points on 5-of-9 shooting from 3-point range against Noble.
“Walker is a shooting guard, who has been such a leader on the floor and by example. He also has NBA range with his shot,” Anderson said.
Forbes supplied 4.9 points and 5.3 rebounds per game while shooting 85 percent from the charity stripe last year. Against Durant, he posted a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds to go with three assists and a pair of blocked shots.
“David has improved. He has size and good range for a big guy. He has the ability to play inside or outside,” said Anderson. “He’s got potential because he’s got very good shooting skills and, with his size, can shoot over a lot of people.”
Another senior, 6-3 forward Garrett Bacon, should help the Cougar cause inside. Bacon did not play basketball after competing on the wrestling team last season. He did play basketball for Ada as a sophomore.
Playing the point-guard spot for Ada is 5-9 sophomore Jermaine Lawson, a move-in from New Orleans, and/or 5-7 junior Jamal Henderson.
“Those two are very valuable. Both are very quick and can get to the glass. They’re very athletic,” Anderson said.
Also expected to contribute at the two-guard or point is 5-9 junior guard Osahwv Frazier.
Anderson anticipates a stronger offensive display this season to go along with a customary solid defensive effort, which is a trademark of Anderson’s Cougars.
“We’re going to be able to score the basketball this season and, as always, we’re going to have to play defense,” said Anderson. “This year, we expect good things. We could possibly be the best team we’ve had since I’ve been here. Obviously, we’ve got to stay focused, be injury free and play to our strengths. But we’ve got to guard. We’re going to have to keep people in front of us and we won’t be able to outscore everybody, every night. We’ve got to stop people.”
NOTES: Ada is No. 9 in Class 4A in the first Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association (OSSAA) Poll, which was released on Monday...The Cougars went 4-2 in the playoffs last season. Both losses came to the Harrah Panthers, who are ranked No. 4 in the OSSAA Poll. Harrah actually beat Ada four times last season. The Cougars face the Panthers in a home-and-home series this season...Other ranked teams on the Ada schedule this season include: Shawnee, No. 15 in Class 5A, and potentially Stillwater, ranked 16th in 6A, in the East Central Oklahoma Classic in Ada.