By Ray Hamill — Eureka’s Cahliel Garner has come a long way on the basketball court in recent years, and now he’s reaping the rewards.
Garner recently announced that he will be taking his talents to Shasta College this fall, where he hopes to walk on with a Knights team that challenged College of the Redwoods all the way for the Golden Valley Conference championship last winter.
And, according to Eureka head coach Robbie Thompson, the player’s maturation over the past three years should set him up for success at the next level.
“He has definitely grown and matured over the years,” said Thompson, who coached Garner for the past three years at the varsity level. “It’s like night and day.
“It’s a good situation for him. And if he continues to take those strides he’ll be successful there.
“To see where Cahliel is now, not only physically but mentally, is refreshing.”
Garner himself has noticed the maturation.
“I feel like I’ve developed as a player,” the senior said. “My game obviously has grown, but mentally as well, and leadership wise. I feel like I have grown just being mentally ready for the games.”
Garner and The Loggers enjoyed a breakout season this past winter, finishing 18-11 and winning an NCS playoff game for the first time in 11 years.
And for Garner and his fellow seniors, it was a rewarding way to go out after battling hard to turn things around for the program in recent years.
“Around Christmas time, when we were on a role, he was one of our better players and you could see the hunger as he was trying to get better each day,” Thompson said. “That whole class helped change the culture of Eureka basketball.”
Garner and his fellow seniors worked hard to achieve that.
“I feel like we came together well and we were more mature,” he said. “Most of us have played basketball together (for years) and the chemistry was there. We just had to bring everything together.”
While he has yet to meet the Shasta coaches because of the COVID-19 restrictions this spring, Garner has visited the campus and says he liked what he saw.
And when he does make the switch, he won’t be alone, with a number of his friends at Eureka High also heading inland to Shasta College, including basketball teammate Josiah Graham who will play football for the Knights.
“That’ll make it a little more like home,” Garner said.
Thompson expects a switch in roles for the Logger standout as he makes the transition to the collegiate level, and sees the almost 6-foot-4 Garner becoming more of a perimeter threat.
Garner himself appears happy to play anywhere asked of him and says he is looking forward to the change and the challenge ahead.
“I’m definitely excited about it,” he said. “I’ve been waiting for this.”
The senior also paid to the Eureka coaches, whom he says helped prepare him for the switch.
“They were really good for me,” he said. “Robbie and (assistant) Mo (Purify), they’re good people.”
The community college basketball season is not expected to start until the new year.