Eli Garver has returned home to coach his former team with hopes of bringing back a winning culture
EXETER – Exeter opened the season with three straight road losses before winning their home opener. They defeated Farmersville 56-28, their first win under new head coach Eli Garver.
Garver graduated from Exeter in 2013, and during his senior season he was apart of the program’s most recent valley championship team. The Monarchs made it to the second round of the playoffs during the following season, but haven’t had a winning record since then.
After playing basketball at University of the Southwest for a year, Garver coached at a few schools before accepting the head coaching position at his alma mater back in April. He said it was time to come back home.
“This job is everything that I have dreamt of,” Garver said. “When I first started coaching, I always wanted to come back one day and take over the program. Being able to do that has been a dream come true.”
Blue and gold runs deep in Garver’s family blood. His grandparents, Fred and Ginny McNeil, coached at the school for over 20 years. His uncle, Steve Garver, is the all-time wins leader for the baseball program while his dad, Dan Garver, played on the football, basketball and baseball teams. His mom, Brenda McNeil, played volleyball, softball and is a part of the school’s hall of fame for basketball.
Exeter’s win over Farmersville was hopefully the first of many in Garver’s career, as he wants to help the basketball program get back to the success he experienced as a player.
“We’re going to work hard, sit down and play defense the entire game,” he said. “We’re going to get out in transition and make you work the entire game. Today was the first game that we’ve truly did that.”
The Monarchs controlled the pace for the entire game against Farmersville. The Aztecs had a tough time handling the ball which made it difficult to pierce Exeter’s defense. The Monarchs got a lot of their points in transition and at the free throw line, which is exactly the type of game their coach wants them to play.
“It really starts with our defense and our defense starts with Zach Welch and Ethan Hernandez,” Garver said. “When they’re playing well then our team is playing well.”
Caleb Peltzer led the team offensively with 13 points followed by Welch and Hernandez with 12 each. The Monarchs will have a few more games to get ready for league play which begins at Immanuel next Monday at 6 p.m.