CAREY – Oftentimes the best identifier of a big-time player is what happens when he’s not on the floor.
Coaches usually hope never to have to find out. Carey didn’t have a choice this year, losing Nate Adamson for a stretch in the middle of the season to illness.
The night-and-day difference is one of the reasons Adamson earned 2014 Times-News small school boys basketball player of the year honors.
Despite missing four games and slogging through others in the middle of the season because of mononucleosis, Adamson averaged 19 points and nearly seven rebounds and assists each night.
All three were important stats for Carey, which ran its offense almost exclusively through the junior dynamo in various forms. With him out, the Panthers slumped, and with him back they surged to where they have been each of the last nine seasons: playing for a trophy on the final day.
“Nate’s a good floor general and he sees the floor really well. He’s an unselfish player and he’s willing to find whoever is open,” Carey coach Dick Simpson said. “We put sets on the floor and we work it so we can get a few to Nate. If he has the ball, he wants to score if he can, obviously, but he’s looking to dish it to someone else for a better shot if possible.”
Adamson announced his return to form with a scintillating triple-double — 39 points, 13 rebounds, 11 assists — in the district tournament against the Community School, and at the state tournament he showed he was back to his old self and possibly better. In the Panthers’ final two games at the state tournament, Adamson played all but 19 seconds and eclipsed his own state tournament scoring record in leading Carey to the consolation trophy.
“We had some down stretches, but we only lost to the state champions (Salmon River, in tournament play) and we peaked at the right time,” Adamson said after the consolation final win.
Adamson will be back for his senior season in the winter, as will all but one of his Carey teammates. The best might be yet to come for Adamson and the Panthers.
“I think he’s got quite a bit of room for growth. He came to the house last night, I got a bunch of stuff on different camps — he wanted to go to a point guard camp,” Simpson said. “He wants to learn more of the game, he wants to be better and he wants to take some of the other kids with him.”