The shot clock is ticking in Hawaii high school basketball.
In addition to the HHSAA’s approval for the shot clock at the 2024 state championships, at least three leagues — the ILH, MIL and BIIF — will implement the 30-second shot clock in regular-season play.
Implementation for the OIA and KIF is pending.
With summer leagues set to tip off as soon as next week — Saint Louis begins its Friday and Sunday schedule on June 2 — teams will get a chance to adapt to the long-awaited format. Some summer leagues, including the varsity summer league at Radford, will not have shot clocks until they are purchased and posted in gyms.
For the most part, coaches are supportive of the change, which is recommended by the National Federation of High Schools.
“It keeps the pace of the game going even up to the end of the game,” said Dan Hale, who has guided Saint Louis to two consecutive boys basketball state titles.
Saint Louis’ summer league, which begins on June 2, will operate shot clocks. ‘Iolani’s summer league, which tips off on June 6, has used shot clocks for years.
In the OIA, bringing the shot clocks in house, wired up and functioning will depend on getting the orders in. There will be discussion at the next administrative meeting in June.
For leagues like the BIIF, where the pace is often fast, a shot clock rules out the possibility of any team stalling out the final minutes.
“I love the idea of the shot clock,” Kohala boys coach Kihei Kapeliela said. “Because we play an uptempo game, I think it wouldn’t affect us as much as a slower-paced team who likes to eat the clock and set up their offense.”
Longtime Pearl City boys coach Lionel Villarmia is in no rush to switch to a shot-clock format.
“For summer leagues, we’re trying to get them to learn the set and run the offense, not so much quick hitters,” he said. “So we don’t really need a shot clock for summer leagues.”
Damien girls coach Mark Arquero is looking forward to it.
“I absolutely love it and can’t wait until this is implemented. As far as game play is concerned, I can’t think of anything negative with this change. Administratively, I hope it works well for all the schools to staff and use it properly,” he said. “It would be nice to implement it now in summer leagues so it gives everyone time to get used to it, but I imagine some schools still need to purchase theirs and install them.”
Mid-Pacific coach Robert Shklov believes in the broad effect of a shot clock.
“The shot clock makes it a better game not only for the players preparing for college, but also for the spectators,” he said.
Longtime official Thomas Yoshida, president of the Hawaii State Basketball Officials Association, observed the pros and cons.
“The game will be faster and the better teams will take advantage by being more aggressive to score. However, in the early days of women’s college basketball, more shots were taken due to the shot clock expiring, causing lower shooting percentages and a lower quality of play.”
For small schools that don’t have a glut of pure shooters, that could be a painful issue. In the BIIF, Konawaena’s girls team has dominated for two decades. With a regular-season round-robin schedule, a 40-point gap could turn into an 80-point disaster with the shot clock. Or is the onus on all programs and communities to develop more shooters at the prep and youth levels?
While the shot clock discussion has lasted for years, a more recent recommendation by the NFHS would also alter game strategy. The current seven-team fouls, 1-and-1 bonus free-throws would be shelved in favor of two free throws for the fifth and ensuing team fouls by an opponent for each quarter.
The NFHS site reads: “Beginning next year, high school basketball teams will shoot two free throws for common fouls when in the ‘bonus.’ This change to Rule 4-8-1 eliminates the one-and-one scenario and sets new foul limits each quarter for awarding the bonus free throw.”
“The rationale was injuries are occurring on live-ball rebounding off free throws,” Hale said. “I am fine with it.”
The change in team fouls and free throws has not been adapted or even officially discussed in Hawaii. A departure from 1-and-1 free throws kills much of the drama in close games down the stretch.
“I like the reset of fouls,” Hale added. “Sometimes it takes a while for teams to adjust to how close it’s being called. With the reset, game flow is better.”
Pressure-packed free throws will still be there, sort of.
“Having the 1-and-1 adds a different level of strategy and absolutely another level of pressure,” Shklov added. “I will miss that theater for sure. I like the five fouls per quarter, but with two shots per foul, the game would probably be longer. The tougher penalty may stifle some aggressiveness.”
Many officials work offseason youth leagues, where the shot clock is common. Some officials, however, will have to step up.
“This will be a transition year for everyone,” Yoshida said. “Players, coaches and even officials will need to adjust to the new speed of the game.”