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PCHS reacts to addition of shot clock for high school basketball

The change goes into effect for next season

Park City’s Luke Varechok attempts a shot over a pair of Highland defenders. Utah will implement a 35-second shot clock next season.
Park Record file photo

The UHSAA board of trustees voted to approve the addition of a 35-second shot clock for boys and girls varsity basketball games next season last Thursday, and while Park City High School boys basketball coach Thomas Purcell voiced his support for the change, there are still some questions that have to be answered.

“I think it’s good, I think it’s a natural step in the right direction,” Purcell said. “I think it will help standardize games and possessions and will provide another challenge on offense.”

The addition of the shot clock will prevent teams from milking the game clock as much as possible when leading late in a game or excessively slowing the game down against a superior opponent. Only a handful of states use a shot clock currently, but the National Federation of High School’s decision last May to allow states to add it means that more states could join Utah moving forward.



On the court, Purcell said that having a shot clock opens up more possibilities on defense and makes certain tactics, like pressing, more effective.

“I think it gives you a lot more options on defense as far as gimmicks go,” he said. “It doesn’t give a team nearly as long to adjust. I think presses could be more effective, as they take time off the shot clock. Similar to college, if you can make a team initiate their offense with 20 seconds on the shot clock instead of 32, that’s a big difference.



“I think presses and things like that that break the rhythm of the offense will become more important.”

But off the court, things get more complicated. For one, it’s another cost for schools, which will have to buy and install shot clocks before next season. Plus, a school like PCHS that has two gyms might end up purchasing shot clocks for both of them.

“We’re going to try to do both so we have the option, so we’ll see,” PCHS athletic director Jamie Sheetz said. “It’s got to go through the process of the district in terms of capital (spending) and everything. We’d like to do both so that we have the option of having both gyms and being able to play in both gyms, but I mean, we’ll see what the costs look like.”

There’s also the issue of manpower. Specifically, it means hiring another person to run the shot clock during games. The logistics of getting everything in place might be a challenge.

“Number one, you’ve got to get with those (scoreboard) companies to see if they’ve got something that’s going to be plug-and-play for you with your current scoreboard,” Sheetz said. “If not, you’re going to go with something else, but you’ve got to get the shot clocks installed above your backboards. And then you’ve got to hire one more person to run that clock now for each varsity game, so it’s going to be interesting.”

Purcell doesn’t think that the shot clock will fundamentally change how high school basketball is played in Utah after looking at how it has affected states that already use it, but he noted that the issue had more to do with cost than a lack of support.

“It doesn’t make a huge difference as far as scoring year-to-year, I think as far as coaching goes, it’ll just be coaching quality of shots against the clock over and over again,” he said. “It was always an issue of cost, and it had to get to a point where the member schools were willing to pay for it.”

 


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