EVANSVILLE, Ind. – The conversation comes up almost every season like, well … clockwork.
A high school basketball team will hold the ball just past midcourt at the end of a quarter and wait for the clock to tick down. If it goes on too long or happens too frequently, the opposing crowd gets impatient. The words “stall ball” will get yelled and tweeted into oblivion.
Everyone who argues against the tactic, which has gone by many names over the years, always has the same fix: add a shot clock to the high school game.
The topic recently came about in Illinois when the associate executive director of the Illinois High School Association Kurt Gibson said it could be among a set of rule changes later this month.
“If I was a betting guy, I would expect the shot clock to come out of that (rules) committee,” Gibson said to the Belleville News-Democrat.
Indiana high school basketball, which can have a religious following in this hoops-crazed state, does not currently employ a shot clock.
That got us at the Courier & Press thinking. Is it time for Indiana to add a shot clock to the game? Or are the logistics too much of a headache?
The answer depends on who you ask.
If there was ever a case for implementing a shot clock, the Memorial-Gibson Southern Class 3A girls’ sectional championship game in 2011 would be Exhibit A..
Through several portions of the game, Gibson Southern was content to play catch near the half-court line, not even trying to make a move toward the basket. Possessing a lead, the Tigers sat back in a zone defense instead of chasing the Titans around. Memorial prevailed, 21-9.
“It kind of shocked us,” said Memorial coach Bruce Dockery. “We knew they would slow it down and we had been practicing that all week. We made sure we got the opening tip (and took an early lead). We just sat back in our zone and let them play catch. It was ugly.
“I told their coach (Mark Monroe) after the game that I hated it, but I admired them for sticking to the game plan, doing what they thought they needed to do to have a chance to win.”
Whenever a similar situation arises, the calls for a shot clock spring forward. Two years ago, Jackie Young and Princeton were forced to play against stalling tams in the sectional. It allowed Southridge to upset the Tigers in the semifinal, 34-33.
Massachusetts, Maryland, Rhode Island, Washington, New York, California, North Dakota and South Dakota currently use a shot clock in high school basketball with Wisconsin on the way. Some in Indiana want the state to join the crowd.
One of those groups seem to be the players. While it is true that not all of them will play beyond high school, a good portion of them are looking to make the leap. What better way to prepare them than a standard version of the sport?
“I think bringing a shot clock to the high school level would be a great thing,” said Castle junior guard Alex Hemenway. “Not only (for) improving the flow of the game but also to help prepare the players who look to play collegiate ball somewhere after high school. I feel this is a change that is needed and hope to see it implemented in the future.”