Shot clocks coming to varsity basketball

Boys, girls varsity will have shot clocks starting with 2023-24 season

One more person may need to be added to the dedicated staff manning the bookkeeping, announcing and score board duties at the Wadena-Deer Creek basketball games once a shot clock is in action. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal

It's about time — or perhaps it's about resources depending on how you look at it. Either way, shot clocks are coming to a varsity basketball game near you.

The Minnesota State High School League’s Board of Directors approved a motion to mandate the implementation of shot clocks to the varsity levels of boys and girls basketball, starting with the 2023-24 season. No board member voted against the motion.

The shot clock will be 35 seconds per possession.

Currently, teams can use shot clocks in regular-season non-conference games and tournaments if they have the equipment and choose to use it. In two years, it will be required. The mandate only exists for the varsity level, though schools can use them at lower levels, should both schools in any game agree to it.

The shot clock debate has spanned years in Minnesota, with advocates describing the improved quality of play and skill development derived from a possession’s time constraint.


Locally, Wadena-Deer Creek girls basketball head coach Jordan Cresap is thrilled about the approval of the shot clock, which is already a part of the technology at the Middle/High School gym at WDC, thanks to the forward thinking of the school district back when the new school was constructed after the 2010 tornado.

"I love that the shot clock was approved," Cresap said. "The shot clock will create a more free flowing game. It will also add more strategy at different points of the game. I think where it will affect things the most is at the end of games. Teams will no longer be able to hold the ball in the final minutes. There will be more possessions at the end of games which will create more exciting finishes."

WC head boys basketball coach Kevin TUmberg agrees that the clocks should add some excitement to the games.

"I'm not sure we have ever been close to a "shot clock violation" before, but just knowing that it's there will add some excitement to the game," Tumberg said. "I don't see our style of play needing to be changed because of it. There are teams that run some slower flowing offenses that may need to adjust."

Indeed, it should bring much more exciting finishes than the occasional stall used by some teams in the waning minutes of a game. WDC Athletics Director Norm Gallant can remember times where such a strategy has been used. But there are other concerns that Gallant has to deal with, largely staffing and paying staff to run another piece of equipment.

"We already have difficulty finding staffing on game nights," Gallant said. "Clock operators and officials are already at a premium. I have trouble finding enough of both. Now I will need to add another person who is trained and understands the game enough to run the shot clock."

Those currently running the equipment, like Wadena legend Rick Johnson, have been doing it for decades mostly because they like to be there.

When another hand can cost $100 a game and a game already costs around $800 to staff officials, bookkeepers, ticket takers and score board operators, the higher expense could mean an increase is needed for ticket prices. Gallant feels the ability to find staff will be the bigger hurdle.


While the high school is equipped, if games were to be played at the elementary, which is not unheard of, shot clocks would need to be installed there.

"It will be around $5,000 to add shot clocks to the elementary school," Gallant said.

Be it good or bad, the clock is now ticking on preparing for the change.

Michael Johnson is the news editor for Agweek. He lives in the city of Verndale, Minn., but is bent on making it as country as he can until he returns once more to the farm living he enjoys. Also living the dream are his two children and wife.
You can reach Michael at or 218-640-2312.
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