Should there be a shot clock in Mississippi high school basketball?
This thought occurred to me while watching a local high school game last week. A team was up by four points with a minute left. Because there is no shot clock in high school (unlike the NBA and college) the team that was leading could, in theory, hold onto the ball for the final minute without taking a shot. Not really the most exciting way to win a game, but those are the rules.
Which got me wondering if high school basketball should implement a shot clock. I asked a couple of local coaches what they thought about the subject and they were mostly in favor of the idea. In theory, at least.
Delmar Sprouse, the boys basketball coach of the Greenville High School Hornets, for example, said a shot clock would have some obvious benefits.
“I just hate it when a superior team plays an inferior team and the inferior team just holds the ball. That is not really in the spirit of the game,” Sprouse said.
James Hunter, the boys coach at St. Joseph Catholic School, also sees the benefits of a shot clock.
“It would help us out a lot,” Hunter said. “We play so fast that we might only get one violation in a season.”
Currently, ten states in the country require the use of a 30 or 35 second shot clock in high school basketball, but it won’t be coming to Mississippi any time soon.
Les Triplett, the Director of Activities for the MAIS, said because of the cost and the personnel needed to operate the shot clocks at each school, adding shot clock’s to games in his organization just is not practical.
“Schools (and that’s anywhere) have a hard time getting clock operators and score keepers, so to add another position would compound that problem,” Triplett said. “Finally, I think you have to look at the number of times a shot clock would actually be needed because a team is holding the ball. Truthfully, it probably happens so few times that putting it in would be a gross overreaction.”
Meanwhile, Don Hinton, the executive director of the MHSAA, told me that a shot clock has never been proposed to MHSAA for consideration.
And, the more I think about it, the more I am fine with high school basketball not having a shot clock. Sure, it would be nice but, like Mr. Triplett said, it would also add another cost to high school athletic departments, many of which are already on shoe string budgets. A quick research on the Internet showed that shot clocks can run into the thousands of dollars when you add the additional costs of electrical wiring and mounting the shot clock to the backboard. Shot clocks, as I have seen watching hoops on televsion, also have a tendency to break or malfunction which would cost even more money.
Finally, in the high school games I see, I rarely watch a team be able to keep a possession, even when they want to, for more than a minute. Something usually happens, be it a steal, a foul or a turnover, to change possession in the game. A shot clock in most cases would not have made a difference.
While a shot clock may make high school basketball games marginally better, fans and families of our local players are still going to have just much fun without them.
Be sure to check out a game of your favorite team before the clock on the season expires.
David W. Healy is sports editor of the Delta Democrat-Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org