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Borg is making the most of his second chance

Even during his one-year hiatus, Tanner Borg always knew he was going to return to the basketball court for his senior season at North Medford High.

What he couldn't have known then was how easy it would be to jump back into the saddle.

Despite taking the time off last season to concentrate on his other true passion, tennis, Borg has proven already that he hasn't missed a beat when it comes to putting the ball in the basket.

The 6-foot senior is shooting right around 40 percent from 3-point range and averages about nine points for the deep Black Tornado, which will put its undefeated record on the line at 7 tonight against cross-town rival South Medford.

"Honestly, it's even better than I thought it was going to be," says Borg of returning to the basketball court. "I knew my shot was going to come back eventually, but it came back even better than I thought it was going to be. Everything just clicked and molded together perfectly."

Part of that is due to Borg's sheer talent, and part for how accepting his teammates and head coach Scott Plankenhorn have been through the whole ordeal.

Borg said it was difficult last year to ask Plankenhorn if it was OK for him to sit out the basketball season in hopes of taking an uninterrupted run at furthering his tennis career.

That was about the only difficult moment of the process, however.

"Plank was really cool about it," says Borg. "He's a really nice guy when it comes to things like that. He just told me if that's what I'm going to do, do the best I can and we'll have a spot for you next year."

Given such a refreshing outlook, Borg took his charge and ran with it. He diligently worked on honing his tennis skills and climbed to sixth on the Pacific Northwest junior tennis rankings. He also teamed with David Longmire to earn back-to-back state championships in doubles.

Along the way he had to sit idle as he watched his former teammates advance to the Class 6A state tournament and finish fifth at the state tournament. While the break may have advanced his tennis career, Borg found that it also renewed his hunger to excel on the basketball court.

Not surprisingly, once the summer season started and North Medford went back to work, Borg was right there back in the mix.

"I think his teammates accepted him right from the get-go in the summer time," says Plankenhorn. "They kinda all knew the deal because we had talked about it when he made the decision to concentrate on tennis."

Given the nature of last year's team, it was a lot easier to do without Borg's services. But this year, the senior is a key cog to keeping teams honest defensively.

"Having him back is huge for us because he's the one guy who can really stretch the defense," says Plankenhorn. "When teams go to a zone defense, he can flat-out shoot it. Having him out there really opens things up for other guys."

Borg is well aware of his role and comfortable in it. He's one of the first players called upon off the bench, and is just happy to be of help.

"It's nice that I found my role on the team so quickly," he says. "I know what I'm supposed to do and I just try my best to do it when I'm out there."

And although he's excited about taking a run at a third straight doubles title with new partner Austin Schoenlein in the spring, his attention is focused solely on basketball these days.

"I hope we can contend for the state title," says Borg. "To win the title as a team would be my favorite thing. I love sharing that kind of stuff with friends because you'll be able to talk about things like that with them for the rest of your life."

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FORMER MEDFORD HIGH standout Rob Brown will be honored Sunday in Corvallis for his contributions to the 1973 Oregon State wrestling team that finished second in the NCAA championships.

Brown, a 1969 Medford graduate, was the 142-pound starter on the OSU team being recognized during the intermission of Sunday's 2 p.m. dual meet between the Beavers and top-ranked Iowa State, which coincidentally won the 1973 NCAA title.

Brown was a state champion at 148 pounds for the Black Tornado in 1969 and also was a placekicker for the football team. His Medford High wrestling team finished third overall at state in 1969 under the direction of head coach Ralph Monroe.

At Oregon State, Brown was a part of a 13-year run where the Beavers placed outside the top 10 only once. He went 15-4 and advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals as a sophomore in 1971, and had a 12-8-2 dual meet record before his senior season was ended by injury in 1973.

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ANOTHER FORMER MEDFORD star, 2008 South Medford graduate Michael Harthun, will make his return to Oregon this week as a member of the Washington State men's basketball team.

The Cougars will play at Oregon State at 6 p.m. Thursday and at Oregon at 11 a.m. on Saturday. Both games are expected to be televised on Fox Sports Northwest.

But while Harthun stands to make the trip back to more familiar stomping grounds, don't expect to see much of him in action if prior games are any indication.

Harthun has experienced his share of ups and downs in his first collegiate campaign, on and off the court. He has played in only six games thus far for a total of 31 minutes, going 2-for-7 from the field with three assists and two rebounds for the Cougars (9-6, 1-2 Pac-10).

He served a three-game suspension in November after campus police allegedly found a small amount of marijuana in Harthun's dorm room. The Whitman County Prosecutor's Office recently decided to charge Harthun with possession of marijuana, and his arraignment is set for Jan. 21.

Washington State head coach Tony Bennett also recently said he was going to tinker with his lineup, which averages an anemic 58 points per game, and that might include more playing time for, among others, Harthun. The all-state guard, however, played only two minutes against Washington and not at all last week against California and Stanford since Bennett's declaration.

Given the fact that the one constant in Harthun's background is he's a natural born scorer — especially from 3-point range — the word "doghouse" comes to mind.

Only those in the locker room know the real truth, I suppose, but losing time to Nikola Koprivica, who has one more assist than he does turnovers, and Abe Lodwick, who is 2-for-19 from 3-point range, is a head-scratcher when you consider Harthun's all-state abilities.

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 776-4488, or e-mail khenry@mailtribune.com