EL DORADO — Sometimes you have to leave home. You have to step out on your own and make your own path. For Jarin Koehler, that has been never truer than it has been for his freshman year at Barton.

Koehler, a hometown El Dorado product, spent many years attending games at Butler Community College. Going into the Power Plant, probably hoping he would one day get a chance to wear the purple and gold. Goals change. Situations change.

“Everyone I talked to said the college experience and you can find out who you really are,” Koehler said. “Not that I don’t like being at home but getting away and learning who I am is really good, too.”

Koehler has done that. He’s stepped away and he’s learning to grow as a player and as a person.

“Jarin is an old school player,” Barton head coach Craig Fletchall said. “This level is more physical. He comes in the evenings and works on his game. He always is putting in that extra effort.”

It showed on Saturday at the Power Plant. Koehler stepped into the starting role, though only scoring three points, he was able to make some key decisions that helped Barton upend Butler. As when he was trapped in the corner due to the press in the second half. Instead of throwing the ball away or wasting a timeout, Koehler made a jump move, finding a wide-open teammate, and stretching the Grizzlies’ defense.

“He deserved it [the start],” Fletchall said. “We had some guys who didn’t work out over the break. Jairin was ready to go. He represents the right things we want in players.”

The success of Koehler resonates back to his high school team and coaches.

“He was a part of my first coaching class,” El Dorado head coach Jordon Regehr said. “that class is special to me.”

With the start, his family and friends showed up and showed out for Koehler and Barton. The Butler students were away on break, turning this away game for Koehler and the Cougars into a semi-home game.

“He’s got a great support staff,” Fletchall said. “We knew he’d have a crowd.”

A large portion of the stands behind the Barton bench, often drenched in Butler merchandise was blue and yellow. The emotions were flowing.

“It’s what I was thinking about,” Koehler said. “I cannot put into words how many games I went to here.”

Koehler understands what going away from home can do. His game has grown. Even from when he arrived on campus in August to starting the first game in January.

“To leave home and not go there was tough,” Koehler said. “To come back here and play in front of my friends and family was something I work toward since I got here.”

Koehler doesn’t regret spreading his wings and trying something new. Stepping out on your own is tough. When you get to hear your name announced in the gym of where you essentially grew up watching basketball, it makes it worth it.

“When they announced his name, that’s what we do this for,” Fletchall said.