Prep Boys Basketball

Does high school basketball need a shot clock?

Central-Southeastern's Alaina Vance holds the ball during a tournament game in Camp Point. | H-W Photo/Michael Kipley
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Feb. 3, 2017 12:01 am Updated: Feb. 4, 2017 11:44 am

QUINCY -- High school basketball in most states separates itself from the college and professional game with at least one distinct feature -- the lack of a shot clock.


High school teams in Missouri, Illinois and Iowa can take as much time as it wants to put up a shot. A team can drain the whole clock in a quarter if an opposing team doesn't play pressure defense.

The Central-Southeastern girls basketball team ran the stall tactic in a game against Brown County during the Lady Panther Classic last month. C-SE ran out the final 3 minutes, 5 seconds of the third quarter and continued through the first 1:15 of the fourth quarter on the way to a 52-31 victory.

A 44-second video clip on Twitter showed C-SE senior forward Kolby McClelland holding the ball just inside the halfcourt line while Brown County stayed back in a 2-3 zone. The video created conversation on Twitter between those in favor of a shot clock in high school basketball and those arguing a defense should pressure the basketball to prevent a stall.

Does high school basketball need a shot clock?

Eight states use shot clocks

The lack of a shot clock in high school basketball has created stories of teams stalling and draining the clock.

The 1954 state championship game in Indiana between small-school Milan and Muncie Central had one of those moments. Milan's Bobby Plump drained the fourth-quarter clock before making the game-winning shot. The game was the inspiration for the movie "Hoosiers" and is a popular among basketball fans.

The National Federation of State High School Associations rulebook does not allow use of a shot clock at the high school level, but each state association can decide on using one. Eight states -- California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Washington -- use a shot clock at the high school level. However, doing so means those states forfeit a seat on the basketball rules committee with the NFHS.

Brown County girls basketball coach David Phelps served for three years on the basketball advisory committee with the Illinois High School Association. He said the prospect of introducing a shot clock to Illinois has been discussed.

"We talk about who is ready for it and how much it would cost," he said. "It was more just an information-gathering thing to see if it needed to be passed on. I'm not sure how important the National Federation deems the shot clock or whether they've got an idea down the road."

The idea has also been discussed with the Missouri State High School Activities Association.

"In my two years, it's been a topic of discussion," said Mexico assistant principal Ed Costley, who serves on MSHSAA's basketball advisory committee. "The biggest thing that holds it off is the National Federation does not accept it. That keeps most states from jumping into it."

Opinions of coaches vary

West-Central Illinois and Northeast Missouri basketball see a variety of basketball styles. That means there are varied opinions between area coaches and players if a shot clock should be introduced.

Fifty-two basketball coaches in The Herald-Whig circulation area recently were polled, and exactly half of them said high school basketball should not have a shot clock. Twenty-two said a shot clock should be used, three coaches were indifferent to playing with or without one, and one coach did not respond.

A variety of reasons were given on both sides.

"That would hinder the chess match that goes on among coaches during the game," C-SE coach Matt Long said. "By having a shot clock, teams that wanted to play fast would have an advantage to teams wanting to slow the pace down."

Most area coaches who were against a shot clock echoed the idea that smaller teams that want to play at a slower pace are at a disadvantage if a shot clock is implemented.

"Some small school teams do not have the athletes to play fast," Canton boys basketball coach Andy Anderson said. "They might have to slow the game down in order to compete."

Other factors are the costs and logistics of adding a shot clock.

Installing a shot clock could cost upward of $5,000, which could be difficult financially for smaller schools that don't have large athletic budgets. Scotland County boys basketball coach Lance Campbell, who also is the school's athletic director, said he runs the school's athletics on a budget of $40,000 a year.

Adding a shot clock isn't as simple as installing it. Someone to run the clock with knowledge of the shot clock rules, which means having to pay another worker at scorer's table.

"That's a pretty substantial amount of money from our athletic budget," Campbell said. "I've also got to think about who is going to run the clock? Is it the same person who is running the game clock? We have two different people running the game clock and the play clock and football. For all things there, I wouldn't be comfortable with the implementation of a shot clock."

C-SE, Brown County and Unity all host basketball tournament during the season and use two gyms, which means their costs would be doubled.

The coaches in favor of a shot clock all pointed toward speeding up the game as a positive.

"From a coaching standpoint, it would make end-of-game situations more interesting," Clark County boys basketball coach Adam Rung said. "It would bring more strategy into play."

Others said a shot clock could help better prepare players who will play at the collegiate level.

"If we are truly trying to prepare our athletes for the next level, then one great way to accomplish that would be simulating the college game as closely as we can," Hannibal girls basketball coach Ben Jamerson said. "It forces them to process things quicker and make faster decisions given the time constraint."

Most players like idea

Most local coaches don't want a shot clock, but the players say otherwise.

Of 63 basketball players polled in The Herald-Whig circulation area, 76 percent said they would prefer to have a shot clock. The most common theme among area players wanting a shot clock is to play at a faster pace.

"It would speed the game up and make it more interesting," Payson Seymour guard Haley Hickerson said. "Scoring would increase with a shot clock, and you wouldn't be able to just stall and pass the ball around."

"Not having a shot clock and allowing teams to hold the ball for most of the game is boring and unsatisfying for fans," Quincy High School sophomore guard Jirehl Brock said. "Fans come to basketball games to watch basketball, not watch someone hold the ball."

The Monroe City and Clark County girls basketball teams prefer to play at a fast pace, while the Illini West and Payson Seymour boys basketball teams are content with playing in a half-court set. However, all players seem to want to play at a faster tempo that resembles the collegiate and professional levels.


Stalling for an upset

Carrie McKinney remembers the game vividly.

As a junior on a state-ranked Palmyra girls basketball team in the 1991-92 season, McKinney -- then Carrie Ragar -- played against Putnam County in a Class 2A sectional game at Korf Gymnasium in Hannibal, Mo.

Putnam County coach Theresa Hunsaker knew the Panthers were a far superior team and one looking to make another trip to the state tournament. So the Midgets went with a gameplan that gave them their best shot at an upset -- a stall.

It worked. Putman County upset Palmyra 21-18.

"It was disappointing, because that was not the game of basketball," said McKinney, who scored 16 of Palmyra's 18 points. "We came ready to play offense, defense and hustle. We were a fast-paced team at the time, and they held the ball at halfcourt the entire time."

Putnam County won the opening tipoff, and guard Traci Mothersbaugh held the ball for more than seven minutes. A shot wasn't attempted until less than 10 seconds remained in the quarter. The score at the end of the first quarter was 0-0.

Palmyra scored 26 seconds into the second quarter before Putnam County held the ball just inside halfcourt to drain the clock again. Mothersbaugh missed a shot from the free-throw line, and McKinney missed two shots in the final 40 seconds. Palmyra took a 2-0 lead into halftime.

"They'd actually put the ball in both hands and sit out there and laugh and smile," McKinney said. "They'd talk about what they were doing for fun the next two days. We'd be standing there in our defensive stances, and it got kind of mouthy at the end because we were like, 'Come on.'"

Palmyra coach Vince Matlick called off the 3-2 zone for a man-to-man defense, and Putnam County used its quickness to its advantage by scoring three straight baskets to pull ahead 17-11 with less than three minutes left in the game.

The stall tactic worked. The Midgets continued using it all the way to a second-place state finish.

"They did what they had to do to win the game," McKinney said. "But that's not the game of basketball."

She believes the high school game could benefit from a shot clock.

"I don't think it would hurt," McKinney said. "It would speed the game up even more. With a shot clock, you have enough time to run your sets. You wouldn't have the dribble game."


Nothing coming in near future

The use of a shot clock has been discussed by advisory committees for the IHSA and MSHSAA, but the talk of bringing the idea to the association's board of directors has not happened.

It doesn't appear the NFHS is going to change its stance in the near future. In a 2015 article, Mike Dyer of the Cincinnati Enquirer wrote, "For a number of years, proposals to implement a shot clock have been defeated by the NFHS Basketball Rules Committee. With about 18,000 high schools offering girls and boys programs, the arguments against the use of a shot clock have prevailed."

At the state level, it seems to be the same case.

The Peoria Journal Star reported last month that a game between DePaul Prep and La Lumiere (Ind.) was reportedly going to experiment with a shot clock, but it didn't happen.

"We have a bylaw that says we follow the National Federation of State High School Association rules for all applicable sports," IHSA executive director Matt Troha told the Peoria Journal Star.

Some coaches wouldn't be surprised if the idea of using a shot clock becomes more serious in the future.

"The game of basketball has evolved," Phelps said. "Just how it's changed from the mid-90s to now, it's so much more physical. The game is faster, but you still have the teams that will grind it out with you and are happy to beat you 31-29.

"(A shot clock) would change the philosophical approach to the game like the 3-point line did."