Time to make a change:

Posted 3/15/22

MY VIEWPOINT High school basketball needs a shot clock In June 2017, the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) voted to implement a 35-second shot clock in both boys’ and girls’ …

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Time to make a change:



High school basketball needs a shot clock

In June 2017, the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) voted to implement a 35-second shot clock in both boys’ and girls’ high school basketball games. Later that December, the board reversed its decision. Now, five years later, it’s time to finally implement the shot clock.

Throughout my time covering high school basketball this season – both boys and girls – there was one thing that always kept coming back to my mind when covering games – we desperately need a shot clock in high school basketball.

Too many times this season I saw a team with a lead between seven and 12 points begin stalling early, and I mean early, in the second half of a game. Teams with a small or medium-sized lead gave up on offense midway through the second half. Sometimes they were no longer even looking to score.

Instead, the goal was to throw the ball around the horn and take as much time off of the clock as possible. When the defense tries to play tough, swipe at the ball, or get physical at all, a foul is called, and the process is started over. Either that or the team goes to the free throw line for the bonus.

To me, if the WIAA is going to allow teams to stall throughout a majority of the second half of games, then why are we even playing a second half? It’s no longer basketball when a team isn’t looking to score or run any semblance of a real offense. Stalling negatively impacts the game.

I want to make my point clear; I’m not saying stalling is never the right play. It’s certainly the right play in the last two or three minutes of the game. It’s never the right play with 12 minutes left, and I saw plenty of that this season.

One comment that is usually made when this debate comes up goes something like this, “Teams aren’t stalling, it’s not a serious issue! It’s strategy!” Let me present Exhibit A. In the 2015-16 WIAA high school boys’ basketball season, Antigo High School traveled to Rhinelander High School for a Division 2 Regional Semi-Final game.

Antigo beat Rhinelander 14-11, yes, that’s the real score. Antigo held the ball for the final seven minutes of regulation before hitting the game-winning shot. It was stalling at its finest. If stalling in high school basketball were art, then they would hang Antigo’s performance in the Louvre next to the Mona Lisa.

I’m not asking for an NBA-style 24-second shot clock. I don’t think that would be good for high school basketball. However, a 35-second or even 45-second shot clock would do the game a lot of good. It would prevent stalling and would promote legitimate offensive play throughout the game, not just in the opening frame and early minutes of the section half.

Perhaps the most common counterpoint to asking for a shot clock is saying, “It’s going to cost money. How much money will it cost each school to install a shot clock?” The average cost for a shot clock to be added to a high school gym is between $5,000 and $10,000, according to readily available numbers from Daktronics, a company that provides timekeeping devices for sporting events throughout the country.

My response would be that the shot clock would be two years away upon approval. Similar to what the WIAA approved in June 2017, I’d like to see it done now. That decision, when approved, wouldn’t have gone into effect until the 2019-20 basketball season, giving schools two full years to prepare for the shot clock regulation.

In that time, schools and their sports would be able to fundraise, apply for grants, and set aside money in the budget to prepare for the one-time cost of adding the shot clocks. In the past, I’ve covered school fundraisers of all sorts that have raised between $3,000 and $5,000 in a single weekend. To make the argument that it couldn’t be done in two years – at least in my mind – is weak at best.

In 2017, when the shot clock addition was initially approved, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that WIAA Associate Director Deb Hauser told the sentinel that a survey of the state’s basketball coaches showed that 81% were in favor of the addition of a shot clock. Historically, it’s been athletic directors and administration that has been against the addition of a shot clock, not the players and coaches.

It’s time to make a change that will improve the game and remove serious stalling tactics from high school basketball so that another 14-11 playoff game never happens again. One time is too many times. The WIAA needs to reconsider adding a shot clock to high school basketball.

Scoreboard and shot clocks: The scoreboard in basketball, as seen here during a game in Spring Valley earlier this season, has been a staple in high school athletics. It’s time to expand timekeeping by adding a shot clock in years to come. Photo by Reagan Hoverman