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Addition by Subtraction

With Murphy Out, Adams Raises His Numbers for Oak Park

February 23, 2001|JOHN ORTEGA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

OAK PARK — Jason Adams of Oak Park High has scored more points, grabbed more rebounds, blocked more shots and stolen more balls than any of his teammates since Jeremy Murphy was sidelined with an undisclosed illness six games ago.

But don't tell the 6-foot-4, 220-pound power forward he's one of the main reasons Oak Park (19-8) is in the semifinals of the Southern Section Division IV-AA boys' basketball playoffs for the first time.

"It's been great that all the guys have stepped up to fill that void," Adams said. "Everybody has stepped up here and there. Everybody has tried to do a little bit more to try and make up for the loss of Jeremy."

The 6-4 Murphy, an All-Ventura County forward, was averaging 16.3 points and 10.4 rebounds. But Oak Park has won six consecutive games in his absence, including a 46-44 victory over Orange Lutheran on Tuesday that put the Eagles in a semifinal game against top-seeded Crespi (23-6) tonight at 7:30 at Agoura High.

"We've really emphasized defense since Jeremy went out," Coach Rob Hall of Oak Park said. "We knew we weren't going to be able to score as much without him, but we're giving up fewer points."

Oak Park, which was eliminated in the quarterfinals in six of the last eight seasons, was averaging 56 points and allowing 51 points per game with Murphy in the lineup. But those numbers have dropped to 55 and 46 without him.

"The guys took it as a challenge," Adams said. "Everybody looked at it as a great opportunity for each one of us to contribute a little bit more."

It's never hard getting Adams to contribute.

He has worked diligently since joining the varsity as a sophomore.

"His work ethic has always been fantastic," Hall said. "He's always been the hardest working player we've had. And he's so consistent day in and day out. He works hard whether it's in practice or a game. He's a throwback in that way."

Adams, an excellent student who has applied to Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USC, UCLA and Caltech, started about half of Oak Park's games as a sophomore before averaging 8.5 points and 6.3 rebounds as a starter last season.

Those statistics increased to 12.7 and 12.2 this season, 15.5 and 12.8 since Murphy was sidelined.

"He's one of those guys who you never have to run a play for," Hall said. "You know that he's going to get his share of points every game just by getting inside and grabbing some offensive rebounds. He's very, very low maintenance."

Adams, a two-way lineman in football and a high jumper, long jumper and triple jumper in track, does more than score and rebound.

He leads Oak Park in blocked shots (2.9 per game) and steals (2.1), and often defends the opposition's best player.

"It's not just a credit to me, but a credit to everybody," Adams said. "With Jeremy out, I've done my part, but so has everyone else. I've put in my two cents, but so has everyone else."

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