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Shot clocks now part of high school basketball, including in Ely

by Tom Coombe

High school basketball games will be a bit different this winter for everyone.

Players and coaches, officials and score table personnel and even fans may need some time to adjust to a brand-new rule requiring the use of shot clocks for both boys and girls basketball.

Thanks in part to a contribution from the International Wolf Center, shot clocks have been installed in both the Memorial and new addition gymnasiums on the Ely school campus.

The clocks are also up throughout Minnesota, wherever prep basketball is played.

While shot clocks have been commonplace in pro basketball for several decades, 30-40 years in college basketball and even high school basketball for awhile in many states, the rule has finally come to Minnesota.

After years of discussion, the Minnesota State High School League adopted the shot clock rule for the 2024-25 season.

Depending on when and where on the court they get the ball, teams will have either 35 or 20 seconds to shoot.

Tom McDonald, Ely’s longtime boys basketball coach, is supportive of the change.

“I think it’s good overall,” said McDonald, who has coached at the high school since 1990. “I kind of like it and I don’t think it will really affect our game as we’re usually quick on the trigger.”

Neither the boys team, nor Ely’s girls, who are led this winter by Max Gantt, are known for a deliberate style so one shouldn’t expect the Wolves to have many shot clock violations this season.

But McDonald foresees a potential impact when his team may look to close out a win.

“In end of game situations, when we have a lead we have a tendency to stall it out,” said McDonald. “There are going to have to be strategies to avoid violations.”

McDonald also sees an impact on how teams play defense.

“You can tell kids that they have to play defense for 30 seconds,” he said.  “I think at the high school level it will lead to some bad shots and bad possessions for teams, and teams will end up throwing things up.”

The girls’ season-opener is set for Nov. 30 at home, while the boys take on Hill City in the Dec. 1 debut at the Memorial Gymnasium.

Both teams will be practicing with the shot clock on to get used to their surroundings.

The rule came with a price, not only  in Ely, but at schools all over Minnesota.

To put shot clocks in both gymnasiums, as well as a new scoreboard in the new gymnasium, the Ely School District was faced with a cost of about $20,000.

Those expenses were offset in part with a contribution of $6,623 from the International Wolf Center, covering the cost of the new shot clocks in the Memorial Gymnasium.

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