Midway through the current high school basketball season, the state of Utah can already look forward to an exciting new change in the upcoming season.
During their meeting this month, the Board of Trustees for the Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA) voted on Thursday, Jan. 20, in favor of adding a 35-shot clock to boys’ and girls’ basketball games across the state. The vote was unanimously in favor of the addition, which will go into effect the beginning of the 2022-23 season.
Further bringing the high school scene into national relevance, the decision makes Utah the 11th state in the U.S. to adopt a shot clock for high school hoops. The rules regarding the length of the clock, the placement of the clock, and other logistical matters will follow the guidelines set by the NFHS Basketball Rules Committee, which voted in the spring of 2021 to make shot clock usage available for State Association adoption beginning next season.
Roughly a year ago, only eight states had a shot clock implemented, but since the change by the NFHS, Minnesota and Utah have followed suit, though Minnesota will not implement the change until 2023-24. Georgia recently made the change as well, starting with the 2020-2021 season.
The shot clock, according to the UHSAA’s vote on the matter, is only mandatory for varsity competition, but it can be used for junior varsity games or lower. This decision rests with the region, or the hosting school in the case of non-region or tournament play.
Coaches around the county reacted to the news with overwhelming positivity, often in waving a not-too-fond farewell to the commonality in the past where a team with a lead would maintain possessions for minutes on end without taking a shot.
“I love it for girls’ basketball,” Manti girls’ basketball coach Brennon Schweikart said. “It should make the games better and should bring a better crowd. I’m excited for it. It’ll make the end of games better. Coaches will have to strategize and work to keep a win or comeback, not just foul.”
Paul Peterson, head boys’ basketball coach at Wasatch Academy, spoke highly in favor of the change. The Tigers’ national schedule for the last several years has consisted almost entirely of games where a shot clock was in effect, making it a largely moot change. “I love it,” Peterson said. “It changes the game and makes teams play properly instead of holding and stalling.”
“It is no surprise that this change is happening,” Gunnison girls’ coach Melissa Sorensen said. “This has been a discussion point for many years, and we all knew it was eventually going to happen. It will take adjustment from everyone: coaches, players, refs, and clock personnel…The game is always changing and evolving, and we adjust and learn as it does.”
North Sanpete boys’ coach Bill Pollock was simple in his thoughts on the change. “I’m excited about it,” Pollock said. “Not sure how it will completely affect how we play yet, but I’m looking forward to finding out.”
“I am excited for the change,” Manti boys’ coach Devin Shakespear said. “I think the end of quarter and end of games will be more fun. I do think we will see some different defensive schemes come from it as well.”
“The change will be difficult at the start as many rule changes are,” Wasatch Academy girls’ coach Vito Winkworth said, “but I’m all for it and I can’t wait to see it be a part of our high school game in the state of Utah. It’s much needed, and I’m glad we get to have it.”
North Sanpete girls’ coach Taylor Christensen and Gunnison boys’ coach Tyson Moosman did not respond to requests for comment.
Information regarding the parameters of the shot clock set by the NFHS can be found online at https://www.nfhs.org/sports-resource-content/shot-clock-guidelines-2021/.