The shot clock debate: why the IHSA needs to catch up with the times

The Illinois high school basketball shot clock looms near


The time for the shot clock in Illinois high school basketball is now. 

Although there is progress being made by the IHSA to implement a shot clock in postseason play, a new rule passed by the IHSA in 2022 allowed for shot clocks to be used in regular season shootouts and tournaments that wished to use it for this past season. But, overall the IHSA is still behind the curve when it comes to the high school shot clock use, as eight states currently use a shot clock in high school play with more to follow in the near future. 

The addition of a shot clock is simple; it would speed up the game of high school basketball, while also allowing players to showcase their entire talent rather than holding the ball when leading, something 4A state champion Moline was keen on all season long.

Moline used the rule of no shot clock to their advantage in the state semifinal, only attempting one shot in the first 4:30 of the fourth quarter, and both teams combining for three total field goals throughout a 12 minute stretch in the second half. No shot clock being implemented severely hindered the losing team even in the third quarter, as Downers Grove North was never able to stage a comeback against Moline due to their strategy.

So, beginning in 1985, the NCAA implemented a 45-second shot clock to limit this effective game plan and speed up the play of college basketball after years of complaints against legendary North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith’s strategy of “four corners” in basketball. Coach Smith’s game plan was simple: while holding a lead late in the game against his opponent, he instructed his team to hold the basketball in all corners of the court for the rest of the game as they waited for the other team to commit a foul, so they could get the ball back. 

Fast forward to the state of high school basketball in the present day, where the first official shot clock in the IHSA playoffs remains to be seen, despite calls for the shot clock beginning many years ago.

The time for the shot clock is now, as more states than ever are realizing the future of high school basketball.