Prep Basketball

Shot clock Saturday in Iowa high school basketball deemed a success

First boys' basketball games (8) using them in state history

(The Gazette)
(The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS – It was a “first” Saturday. And the future.

Eight boys’ basketball games were played in the Wells Fargo Advisors Shootout at Cedar Rapids Kennedy. All of them included a 35-second shot clock.

That had never happened in this state before, the Iowa High School Athletic Association granting an exemption for just this date and this event.

But everyone you talked to who was involved here believe shot-clock basketball will become the norm. Perhaps sooner than later.

“I think down the road it is going to be part of the game,” Alburnett Coach Jeff Christopherson said. “And I think 35 seconds is about the right amount.”

“I would guess eventually high school is going to get a shot clock,” agreed Cedar Rapids Kennedy Coach Jon McKowen. “If it’s two years from now, everybody would be happy. Maybe it’s 10 years from now. Eventually it is going to come in. It’s just a matter of time.”

The games didn’t seem to be appreciably different Saturday. Guys ran up and down the floor, played defense, made passes, attempted shots, etc.

There were few actual shot-clock violations or issues with whether the shot clock should be reset.


The only real difference was at the end of games. Teams can’t sit on leads with a shot clock, which was most noticeable in Alburnett’s 57-55 victory over Don Bosco.

The Pirates had a 15-point lead with about five minutes to go, but couldn’t take the air out of the ball. Next thing you knew, Don Bosco pulled even ... almost.

“That was the only time it really came into play for us,” Christopherson said. “Where we had a lead and were trying to be patient with the basketball. We missed some shots that could have kept that separation. Missed some bunnies on the inside. But that’s part of basketball.”

Still, Christopherson felt it was a positive experience for his team.

“I enjoyed it,” he said. “I think it’s good for a change. I think it’s going to take awhile for it to be taken over in Iowa. For one thing, the cost. Then you need people to run it. But I thought it brought a little different flavor to the game.”

“I know there are some uncertainties with cost and help and everything,” said Central City Coach Tanner Carlson, whose team beat Edgewood-Colesburg, 67-51. “But I loved it, our kids loved it. They were pretty excited to play with it.”

McKowen said he felt it changed the strategy of the game, and not only late. Kennedy outlasted St. James Academy of Kansas in overtime, 60-58.

“I think it keeps it exciting throughout the course of the game,” McKowen said. “Teams either transition or they grind it out when they’re playing defense and offense. The shot clock doesn’t allow that. Watching the games today, the kids’ engagement on the defensive side is kind of at another level, just because you know you only have to go for that 35 seconds. You don’t have to be there forever.

“It puts a little more strategy into where your pickup points are (defensively).”

You did see some coaches elect to defend opponents more full court or close to full court. That was done to try and shave a couple of seconds at the beginning of the shot clock.


“Someone asked me earlier if we did any preparation for it, and I said no, not really,” Christopherson said. “We timed our situations in practice, and most of our shots were taken at about 29 seconds.”

“I just think it adds a whole new dimension,” McKowen said. “I think it’s a faster game, just because your engagement has to be on point immediately. You can’t walk it down the floor, call a set and then run it because you are going to be too late. You have to get it going right away … And leads aren’t as big with the shot clock. I liked it. It was fun.”

Other winners Saturday were West Des Moines Valley (52-39 over Linn-Mar) , West Des Moines Dowling (51-42 over Dubuque Hempstead), Iowa City Liberty (65-35 over Carlisle), Waterloo West (77-49 over Iowa City High) and Cedar Rapids Xavier (61-47 over Charles City).

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