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Sam likely choice as North boys hoop coach

North Medford will introduce its new boys basketball coach at — p.m. today at the school gymnasium.

The likely choice is current junior varsity coach Tim Sam, who hasbeen a member of the Black Tornado staff since 1991.

The other two finalists interviewed earlier this week to succeed Gene Quilhaugh were North Bend coach John Olson and Warrenton's Rob Boye.

"If I end up being the head guy, it's been a dream of mine for a long time," Sam said. "I've worked a long time to be the guy in charge of a program and I've been around some good people."

Sam teaches math, advanced placement statistics and honors geometry.

"The forefront of everything is being a teacher," he said, "but I've been a coach longer than I've been a teacher."

Sam, 37, began his coaching career at Shasta Junior High in the Bethel School District in Eugene, while finishing up work on a mathematics degree at the University of Oregon. He coached basketball and was the school's head track coach. After graduation from Oregon, Sam taught and oversaw the basketball program at Fremont Junior High in Roseburg.

At North he has coached the junior varsity squad for eight years. He was a varsity assistant for one season and a freshman coach for another season.

When Quilhaugh was hired in 1998, Sam was a finalist for the position.

"At that time, I had a pretty good shot," Sam said. "I can understand that it was easier to go with a guy that had won a state championship than to risk it on a guy that was here."

The extra time as an assistant gave Sam more time to prepare for the future.

"It gave me an opportunity to learn from Gene," Sam said. "He's been kind enough to put me in charge of the defense the last two years."

Sam was a shooting guard when he played at Ashland High under coach Jerry Hauck in the early 1980s. He played on the Grizzlies' first two winning teams in a generation.

"We were able to turn things around," Sam said. "It was a neat time with a lot of full gyms."

Sam said North's foundation is solid with a strong feeder program.

"I'm ready to lead the program in a direction I think will be positive," he said.

Boye, 39, is a 1980 Crater High graduate and has been Warrenton's head coach since 1998. He guided the Warriors to their first state tournament appearance since 1981, and the fourth since 1935, in his first season. He is an Oregon State graduate.

Olson, 36, coached North Bend to its first appearance in the state playoffs in 40 years in 1999. He's also brought teams to the Holiday Classic put on by North and South Medford the past two Christmas breaks.

Olson has been at North Bend for eight years, the last five as head coach. He grew up in Gold Beach and attended Oregon State, graduating in December 1989.

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 776-4483, or e-mail