High school basketball needs a shot clock

Published 5:07pm Monday, January 13, 2014

We’ve all been at a high school basketball team where one team had a late lead and held the ball the majority of the fourth quarter. Time runs down and either the opposing team elects to foul or the clock down.

I know there are a lot of reasons why we don’t have a shot clock for high school games in Alabama — mainly cost — but it’s something we’ve got to change as soon as we can. I understand the challenges to having a shot clock, because it gives the officials something else to keep up with and would require an additional official to be at games to run the shot clock, but it would really change basketball in our state for the better.

I remember numerous times in my playing career of teams stalling the clock, but one moment sticks out more than others.

We were down over 20 points to a team that was a lot better than us going into the fourth quarter, but we were surprised at what happened next. In the final period, the opposing team held the ball the entire fourth quarter and my coach told us to stand there. If we had fouled, the fourth quarter would have lasted around another hour and we were unlikely to come back, so we chose not to. One of my teammates even took a seat on the floor and watched as the other team held the ball, passing it around and running the clock down.

It’s not the opposing team’s fault. They should have held the ball and protected the lead forcing us to foul, because the rules in place allow it. Coaches should do whatever they can to win so I have no problem with a team stalling the clock, but nobody enjoys watching that kind of game.

A 35-second shot clock would force quicker possessions and would eliminate sitting on the ball. It’s embarrassing to the sport that a team is allowed to just hold onto the ball for an entire quarter and not attempt a shot.

Under the current rules allowed by most high school associations nationwide, games could go to overtime at 0-0 without any shots ever being taken. There are numerous stories throughout history of games ending with a 2-0 score.

There are many obstacles in the way of adding a shot clock to every high school in the state.

Money, of course, is the biggest issue and I understand the decision makers at the two major athletic associations that govern our state have more experience and frankly more knowledge on this subject than I do at this point in my career, but I don’t think anyone would disagree that a shot clock would make the game better.

Basketball without a shot clock is the equivalent to football without a play clock or baseball without walks.

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