Imagine a six-overtime basketball game in the state high school tournament; the thrills of one team moving on to the championship game, the fear of the other team falling one step short of reaching its goal.
That excitement is why people love sports and it’s exactly what Hollywood tries to recreate in movies.
But that scenario took place this spring in Manhattan as Bishop Seabury and St. John played in the 2A state semi-final, and while it was an exciting game and finish – St. John won on a 40-foot shot at the buzzer – four of the overtimes were nothing but dull.
After winning the tip in the second through fifth overtime periods, Seabury decided to take advantage of the Kansas high school basketball rules. With no shot clock in play, Seabury held the ball for the overtime period near midcourt, choosing to wait for one shot at the buzzer to win.
Eventually, in the sixth overtime, St. John’s Cole Kinnamon hit a long 3-pointer for the win, making for a great ending in what was mostly boring overtime action.
What happened in four of those six overtimes is not what basketball should be about. Basketball is at its best when there is motion, teamwork, effort and a drive to win. Ten players standing around for almost four minutes isn’t basketball at all.
In a perfect world, Kansas high schools would have a shot clock. Teams wouldn’t be able to “take the air out of the ball,” as stalling is sometimes called, especially at the end of games. I don’t blame any teams or coaches for using this tactic, though – they are simply playing within the rules.
Talking to a couple local athletic directors, I was somewhat surprised that there isn’t much of a push for shot clocks in Kansas. One pointed out the cost that it would take to not only install shot clocks in every gym, but to pay someone to run the clock every Tuesday and Friday. Another said he felt like teams typically shoot quick enough already, and the change he would prefer to see is matching the game to the college level in terms of time – in college, women play four 10-minute quarters and men play two 20-minute halves.
Fran Martin, an administrator for the Kansas State High School Activities Association, said there hasn’t been much of a push from the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association for a shot clock. She also said Kansas wouldn’t adopt the shot clock if it wasn’t first adopted by the National Federation of State High School Associations.
I understand and see the points that all three made. However, I think the game’s rules should always be looked at and tinkered with, if necessary, to make the game the highest quality possible, and that would include instituting shot clocks for high school basketball.