IHSA approves high school basketball shot clock starting in 2026

girls basketball players get ready for tipoff under previous IHSA no shot clock rules
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Following its latest board meeting on June 10th, the IHSA officially announced that it will be implementing a 35-second shot clock for boys and girls high school basketball. The change will begin officially for all varsity contests starting with the 2026-27 season.

Strong support from Illinois coaches

In recent seasons the IHSA began experimenting with shot clocks for various tournaments throughout the season, allowing teams and coaches to gather first hand experience. The feedback has been positive and the two-year window before becoming official allows teams and schools time to prepare for the change.

“The IHSA has allowed the shot clock to be used in tournaments and shootouts the past two seasons, and the overwhelming feedback we have received from coaches is that it is time to embrace the shot clock in all varsity contests,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson in a statement. “We believe the two-season lead time will provide our schools with ample opportunity to install the shot clocks and get comfortable with them from both a coaching and game administration perspective.”

Naperville area coaches and administrators approve of the new shot clock

Benet Academy head girls basketball coach Joe Kilbride has taken his Redwing teams to the state tournament five times in his career, winning back-to-back state championships in 2015 and 2016. He feels that teams will be able to adjust fairly quickly to the shot clock once it officially becomes implemented.

“On the whole I think most teams will not find much difference with the shot clock. I think one adjustment period will be in developing your approach at the end of periods with potential two for one opportunities, and especially at the end of games as both the winning and losing team,” said Kilbride. “I also think we may see more teams pressing to slow offenses down and playing zone defense to force teams to play against the clock.

In Benet’s 2023 state championship game loss to O’Fallon, the Redwings were slowed in the early portion of the contest as the O’Fallon offense held the ball for nearly half of the first quarter to waste time off the clock after opening up an early lead.

Waubonsie Valley athletic director Chris Neibch is excited about the shot clock rule change and feels it will lead to a more exciting brand of basketball at the high school level.

“The most obvious pro to the implementation of the shot clock is to get rid of the stalling by a team that has a lead or is less talented, making the game more exciting,” said Neibch. “Another advantage of having a shot clock is that it encourages more scoring opportunities by forcing teams to get into their offense quickly.”

Neuqua Valley athletic director Branden Adkins has seen the issue as both a head coach and administrator. Adkins was the Plainfield East boys basketball coach before being hired as the Neuqua AD.

“As a former head boys basketball coach I am in favor of the shot clock.  It catches us up with the times of the game,” Adkins explained. “The obvious is that it does not allow teams to hold the ball for long periods of time which is not what the game is about.  It forces more strategy by coaches for each possession.”

Officials and clock operators will need to get in sync

One of the major sticking points in not utilizing a shot clock sooner is the ability for each school having the resources to provide the shot clock itself as well as an operator for each game.

“Administratively it may be difficult to find individuals to work the shot clock that truly know how it works, so there will be some major training of individuals to simply run the shot clock correctly,” said Neibch. “Some schools already have a difficult time finding qualified workers to work their events, finding one more may be difficult for these schools. We are very fortunate to have several individuals that work our events and that know the game well, so I am hoping that this will not be an issue at Waubonsie Valley.”

Coach Kilbride and the Redwings did play in tournaments with a shot clock and while the overall game play was not much different than usual, there were some aspects of utilizing the shot clock that needed to be ironed out.

“Two years ago we did and the biggest thing I noticed was the shot clock operator occasionally started the clock after a made basket instead of when the ball was inbounded,” Kilbride explained. “Refs use the shot clock for 10-second calls, so a couple teams I saw got violations that were premature because the shot clock started before they inbounded the ball.”

Metea Valley athletic director Matt Fehrmann expressed the need for patience as schools and teams adjust their plans and strategies over the next two years before the shot clock becomes fully integrated.

“A change like this has ripple effects that could be unforeseen so it’s important that everyone remains positive and patient,” said Fehrmann. “Everyone will need to give this some time before having a strong opinion on this implementation. I know our coaches welcome this at Metea Valley. It will have its moments for sure but overall there is some intrigue or excitement.”

Change in state championship schedules

One other change that was announced for the boys and girls basketball state series. Going forward, the Thursday of the state championship week will be used for the 1A, 2A and 3A semifinal games, with the 4A semifinals will be played on Fridays. The 1A-3A third place games will then be played on Friday while the 4A third place game will be on Saturday morning. All 1A-4A state championship games will remain on Saturday.

This change guarantees that making it to state will be a two-day experience for all teams involved. In the previous two seasons, the third place games were played on the same day as the semifinals.

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