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Five locals pick up McDonald's recognition

Five Southern Oregon basketball players have been recognized recently as nominees to play in the McDonald's All-American Game on April 1 in Miami, Fla.

South Medford High's E.J. Singler and Brittney Newcomb, North Medford's Jordan Ellis, Cascade Christian's Scott Morse and Grants Pass' Natasha Torgerson were among 45 Oregonians nominated.

Overall, there are 1,500 nominees from across the U.S. vying to play in the prestigious event, which features the top high school seniors in boys and girls basketball. The boys game is in its 32nd year, while the girls game is in its eighth.

The final East and West team selections are expected to be made Feb. 19.

For the sixth-ranked South Medford boys basketball program, this is the third straight year the school has received such an honor. Kyle Singler was nominated and named to the McDonald's squad in 2007, while Michael Harthun was a nominee in 2008.

E.J. Singler, a 6-foot-6 forward, leads the Southwest Conference at 21 points per game and was a Class 6A second-team all-state selection last season. He has signed to play for the University of Oregon next year.

Newcomb's honor is believed to be the first for a South Medford girl, and it's one of only 19 doled out this year in Oregon. The 5-8 guard is averaging 23 points in SWC play for the Panthers.

Singler and Newcomb are set to be honored with a certificate presentation during a school assembly at 9:50 this morning.

Ellis is the first Black Tornado boys basketball player to be nominated in recent memory. The 6-1 guard is averaging nearly 18 points, six rebounds and five assists for North Medford. He's also come up with 24 steals in 17 games.

The national recognition is another first for Morse, who is a 6-7 forward for Cascade Christian. Morse is averaging 18 points, nine rebounds, five assists, four steals and three blocks for the Challengers, ranked No. 3 in Class 3A. Morse has signed to play at California Baptist University next year.

Torgerson is a 6-1 forward who has signed to play at Sacramento State next season.

Kyle Singler and Lake Oswego's Kevin Love were the last Oregonians to be named to the McDonald's All-American team.

A group of 32 basketball experts, including nationally renowned coaches and top high school sports journalists, help select the boys nominees, while a 24-person panel selected the nominees in girls basketball.

Proceeds from both games in April will benefit the Ronald McDonald House Charities of South Florida.

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