By Jeremy McDonald
MCMINNVILLE, Ore.– Four years seems to fly so fast nowadays.
Four short years ago, Dayton’s Payton Garrison had arrived on the Pirate campus after spending the bulk of his playing career in the Yamhill-Carlton school district.
Moving to a new school was hard no doubt. Learning a new system is tougher, espically with the resume that Dayton Head Coach Ron Hop has when you enter into his gym looking to play for him.
The Pirates had just came off a third-place finish the year before Garrison arrived and were looking for yet another deep run at Coos Bay that upcoming year. As tough as it was however, it was a smooth transition for newbie in Garrison.
Especially with the help of one of the State best in 3A at the time, then-Senior Zach Bernards, helped Garrison adjusting to the new system he was being introduced to.
“Zach Bernards just took me under his arm. I was a freshman, he was Senior…he definitely helped me a lot with my game, how I acted on the court and off the court,” Garrison said of Bernards and helping with adjusting to the demands of Pirate Basketball.
Dayton won the championship that year with Garrison on the Varsity roster by season end. Over the next four years, Garrison’s season ended in Coos Bay.
Second-place as a sophomore, third his Junior year and then reaching the Oregon coast again this past year.
Then the best rivalry of them all:
Garrison knew of the battles with the Warriors, but it was a different monster being apart of it on Gameday.
“I mean YC kind of had a rivalry with Amity, but it wasn’t as big as this Dayton-Amity rivalry. I’ve played against all of those kids growing up, I knew all of them already. When they made the tip-in (freshman year)..that was not fun,” smiled Garrison. “But those games are fun. The stadium was packed, it was all amazing. So many people and I’ve never been in front of all of those people.”
The tip-in was in reference to the Clint Hatch’s game-winning basket, it was the Pirates lone loss of the year as they split the next two years. Dayton swept the trilogy this past season.
Monday evening, as Garrison sat at the kitchen table at his home signing his Letter of Intent to play basketball at the College of the Redwoods in Euerka, California; those Warrior-Dayton wars, the Coos Bay battles and the chaos of AAU-ball not just sharpen iron with iron physically, but mentally as well.
“It’s a big factor. Obviously, you got to be talented and good to play, but just staying focused and staying under control, it’s a big part of it,” said Garrison.
As one chapter ends, another begins. And for Garrison, he’s leaving one great program for another in California. College of the Redwoods went 22-6 overall in 2019-2020 and reached the Northern California Regional Finals before falling to City College of San Francisco 108-64.
“It’s a big honor for me,” said Garrison. “When I was super young I was like, ‘oh I want to be in the NBA’. When I was a little older I was ‘eh, is that really realistic?’ And now I get to go play at a higher level for the next two years, it’s huge for me.”