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Richmond Times Dispatch (Virginia)


USA Basketball and the NBA last week recommended a 24-second shot clock for boys and girls high school teams. While a shot clock is gaining steam among private schools in Virginia, it's not being considered for public schools.

Mike McCall, communications director for the Virginia High School League, said a shot clock is not on the table. It hasn't been proposed in the past, and McCall said there's no indication it will be proposed any time soon.

The VHSL is a member of the National Federation of State High School Associations, which, among other things, serves as the national authority on competition rules. The NFHS basketball rules committee has considered proposals for a shot clock several times but has voted against implementing it.

Eight states — Massachusetts, Maryland, Rhode Island, Washington, New York, California, North Dakota and South Dakota — are using a shot clock for boys or girls or both.

Some private schools that are part of the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association already use a shot clock, and the Prep League will begin using one in the 2019-20 season. The league includes Richmond-area schools Collegiate, St. Christopher's and Trinity Episcopal. The length of time for the shot clock hasn't been determined.

"Coaches have been advocating to have a shot clock for a number of years," Trinity Episcopal athletics director Becky Currier said. "It is also becoming more and more common for us to play a game that uses a shot clock. Any time we are traveling to Northern Virginia and we play a high-profile tournament up there ... they're using it. We decided it's time to go ahead and make that change."

Opponents of using a shot clock in high school games cite the cost of the clocks and installation, paying someone to operate the clock or finding a volunteer, losing the strategic ability of teams to slow the game, and keeping an identity that is separate from pro and college games.

Wisconsin approved a shot clock for 2019-20 before rescinding it because of cost and implementation concerns. Officials estimated the cost would be between $2,000 and $2,400 for each school.

Proponents say a shot clock speeds up the game and includes more possessions, gives more decision-making experience to players and coaches, keeps less-talented teams from trying to play "stall ball," and makes it more uniform with the pro and college games.

USA Basketball and the NBA recommended the shot clock as part of several age-appropriate standards they say will enhance development. Those rules will be used by USA Basketball and the NBA "in all events and competitions they may host."

It also noted that "we understand that organizations and facilities may not always be able to accommodate all recommendations and that modifications will need to be made in certain instances due to practical limitations (e.g., inability to raise or lower the height of a basket, redraw court lines, or not having a shot clock)."

L.C. Bird High girls coach Chevette Waller prefers a shot clock but said it has not been a topic of discussion in meetings among the area's public school coaches. The Skyhawks like to press and play fast, and Waller says a clock prepares high-caliber players for the college level.

"Overall, I think it's a great idea," said Waller, whose team played a private school that used a shot clock a few years ago. "I think there might be some money issues involved. I think that's going to be huge. Some of the newer schools might have the finances to do it. But then you've got some of the other schools ... who don't have the finances."

Henrico High boys coach Vance Harmon favors a shot clock for uniformity with the higher levels and believes "it's a matter of time before it happens" with the state's public schools.

Henrico installed a combination game clock/shot clock above its backboards about five years ago. The shot clock hasn't been used, although Harmon has toyed with the idea of using it during Henrico's holiday tournament.

"We paid for it out of our own basketball budget," Harmon said. "I wanted it simply because the colleges were using it and a lot of the higher-end high schools up in D.C. and other places have it. I always strive to make our facilities a small college-type setting."

Currier is in the process of pricing the equipment for Trinity. If it fits in the budget, the Titans may use a clock in selected home games next season.

"I'm sure we'll look at [if we can] bundle it with other things," she said, "because basketball is not the only sport gravitating toward a shot clock." 649-6965@timpearrelltd

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Coach Vance Harmon JOE MAHONEY/TIMES-DISPATCH Coach Vance Harmon JOE MAHONEY/TIMES-DISPATCH The NCAA instituted a 30-second shot clock for the 2015-16 season. The clocks' use is growing among state private schools, but public schools aren't considering them. 2015, JAMES H. WALLACE/TIMES-DISPATCH The NCAA instituted a 30-second shot clock for the 2015-16 season. The clocks' use is growing among state private schools, but public schools aren't considering them. 2015, JAMES H. WALLACE/TIMES-DISPATCH
March 29, 2018


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