Talkin’ shot clock, three officials

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A couple of weeks ago in this space, local high school basketball coaches/administrators sounded off about the possibility of Idaho adopting a form of Washington’s RPI system to seed teams for state tournaments.

While doing so, a couple of coaches brought up perhaps more pressing needs in their sport.

“More than a new seeding system, I just wish we would get a shot clock,” said Timberlake High girls basketball coach Matt Miller, whose Tigers won their second straight state 3A championship last weekend.

“To me, what’s way more urgent, and we’ve made no ground on it whatsoever for 7-8 years, I believe we’re the only state in the United States using two-man officials,” said Lake City boys basketball coach/athletic director Jim Winger. “I know a lot of people have been pushing the shot clock, and that hasn’t gotten a sniff either.”

So we checked in again with Ty Jones, executive director of the Idaho High School Activities Association.

FIRST, THE shot clock.

Eight states nationwide (including Washington) use a shot clock for high school boys and girls basketball. Some other states have a shot clock for one or the other.

A poll a few years ago by The Idaho Statesman newspaper of Boise showed a majority of high school basketball coaches in Idaho were in favor of adding a shot clock.

But there’s a slim chance of that happening anytime soon.

“The IHSAA follows the NFHS (National Federation of High Schools) guidelines for basketball,” Jones said. “The NFHS does not allow the use of a shot clock and still be able to have a vote on any matters, or have a person eligible for the NFHS Basketball Rules Committee, which we currently have a person on right now. The cost factor is another reason that the shot clock issue will not be on our discussion agenda any time in the near future.”

But, even if cost wasn’t a factor, the IHSAA doesn’t want to give up its vote on basketball rules matters, so it would be up to the NFHS to allow use of a shot clock for Idaho to consider one.

“Idaho would not be willing to give up a potential spot on the committee if cost was not an issue,” Jones said.

AS FOR three referees ...

“We are using three here, but we can’t get three-man (officials) passed at the state level,” Winger said. “To me, that’s just absurd, that the 4As and 5As are not doing that (at the state level). It’s rough, and as much holding and armlocking is going on, if three guys aren’t catching it real well, I can’t imagine with two. The game is more rough, there’s a lot more stuff going on. And to not have three officials, to me, is mindboggling. We can’t get that through.”

5A and 4A schools in District 1 have used three officials the past few years.

But in the postseason, when a District 1 team plays a District 2 team, they use two officials — one from each district — as was the case at Tuesday’s 5A Region 1 boys title game between Lewiston and Post Falls.

At the state 5A tournament, games are much more physical than they are in North Idaho -- almost to the point where Division I football coaches would be proud.

Like with the shot clock, cost is an issue with using three officials at the smaller school levels.

However, there appears to be some light at the end of the tunnel with three-man officiating crews at the state level.

“We will be meeting with a group of ADs and officials in April to continue to look at using three-man crews at the state tournament and possibly the regular season,” Jones said. “We will discuss the cost aspect, as well as potentially only using it for our larger classifications. For schools, an additional official could cost them as much a couple of extra thousand dollars. Bigger schools could afford that much easier than smaller schools.”

Mark Nelke is sports editor of The Press. He can be reached at 664-8176, Ext. 2019, or via email at mnelke@cdapress.com. Follow him on Twitter@CdAPressSports.

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