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John's Journal: Shot Clocks Are Coming, Teams And Officials Are Preparing

Will Be Mandatory For All Girls and Boys Varsity Games In 2023-24 Season

Posted: Saturday, January 28, 2023 - 2:52 PM


ROCHESTER -- Pete Hinrichs had never before been in charge of setting and resetting basketball shot clocks, but he was ready to go Saturday at Mayo Civic Center.

The rest of the Minnesota high school basketball world will be ready to go next season, when 35-second shot clocks become mandatory for all girls and boys varsity games. This season, many teams are playing with shot clocks when they have the opportunity.

Hinrichs was sitting at the scorer’s table at Mayo Civic Center Arena. He had been assigned to operate the shot clocks for four games during the Hiawatha Valley League/Three Rivers Conference Showdown, which matches girls and boys teams from one conference against an opponent from the other.

“I’ve never done this before,” said Pete, who lives in Zumbrota. He then referred to a video on the MSHSL website that offers guidance on operating shot clocks. “I’ve probably watched that video 10 times.”

Pete did a great job. There were two shot clock violations in the four games he worked, and the officials stopped play once to make sure the shot clocks had been reset properly. Other than those types of very minor issues, this season’s shot clock experience appears to be smooth.

When the girls team from Lake City met Plainview-Elgin-Millville in the HVL/TRC Showdown, it was the first shot clock game for Lake City.

“Today was our first day and we haven't even practiced with it. So we just thought, ‘Hey, let's give it a ride,’ ” said Tigers coach Drew Olinger.

“I've looked into it with our team and we don't have any possessions that go for 35 seconds in reality, unless it's at the end of the game and we're trying to stall or we're trying to take a lot of time off the clock, so I wasn't going to bring it up. That was kind of my philosophy, to let the game happen and I was going to tell them, ‘If the horn goes off you’ve got to keep playing (until the whistle).’ Those are things we’ve got to learn for next year, obviously. I think it'll change some types of styles for some types of teams, but the big impact is going to be in end-of-game situations.”

Indeed, the very rare instances of teams holding the ball for minutes at a time will be in the past next season, and shot clocks are most likely to come into play at the end of the half and end of the game. It’s just the latest change to a game that has been evolving for a long time.

Minnesota high school basketball has used the three-point line since the 1980s; the game went to two 18-minute halves rather than four eight-minute periods in the 2005-06 season; and four-foot restricted arcs were placed under each basket, to help clarify block/charge calls, in the 2018-19 season.

Shot clocks don’t just impact teams, of course, because officials also will make the adjustment.

Erik Okstad, an official from Pine Island, also officiates women’s college basketball so he has experience with shot clocks.

“I’ve had a handful of high school games (with shot clocks) so far this year and it works out very well, in my opinion,” he said. “It doesn't come into play very much but it comes into play in the last few minutes of the game. When a team wants to stall, they’ve got to make a decision and go to the hoop.”

On several occasions at the HVL/TRC Showdown, coaches loudly counted down the final few seconds on the shot clock to make sure their players were aware. At the scorer’s table, a beep was heard every time a shot touched the rim and the shot clocks were reset on a hand-held device.

Ryan Keller, an official from Rochester who has worked basketball games for 20 years, has shot-clock experience from doing junior college games.

“It seems like teams just run their offense and they get used to it after a while, so I don't think it'll have too much of an effect on us as referees,” he said. “It seems like the coaches are trying to get their players to move the ball more, and their offense is going to have to dictate how the game goes flows.”

Goodhue boys basketball coach Matt Halverson, whose team has played several games with shot clocks this season, was the shot clock operator for one game at the HVL/TRC Showdown.

“It took a little bit of learning but I don’t think it will be a huge learning curve,” he said.

“We’re not going into it blind next year. Every situation I’ve seen with it has been positive. Just like the charge circle and 18-minute halves, you get used to it.”

--To see the shot clock video, click here:…

--MSHSL media specialist John Millea has been the leading voice of Minnesota high school activities for decades. Follow him on Twitter @MSHSLjohn and listen to "Preps Today with John Millea” wherever you get podcasts. Contact John at [email protected] 



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