Hawaii high schools move toward full shot clock adoption

The shot clock is ticking in Hawaii high school basketball.

In addition to HHSAA’s approval of the shot clock in the 2024 state championships, at least three leagues (ILH, MIL, and BIIF) will implement the 30-second shot clock in the regular season.

Implementation for OIA and KIF is pending.

With summer leagues scheduled to begin next week, Saint Louis begins its Friday-Sunday schedule on June 2, teams will have a chance to adjust to the highly anticipated 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, the coaches support the change, which is recommended by the National Federation of High Schools.

“He keeps the game going even to the very end,” said Dan Hale, who has guided St. Louis to two straight men’s basketball state titles.

The Saint Louis summer league, which begins June 2, will operate the shot clocks. Iolani’s summer league, which begins June 6, has used shot clocks for years.

At the OIA, bringing the launch clocks home, wired up and running will depend on receiving the orders. There will be discussion at the next management meeting in June.

For leagues like the BIIF, where the pace is usually fast, a shot clock rules out the possibility of any team stalling in the final minutes.

“I love the shot clock idea,” Kohala boys’ coach Kihei Kapeliela said. “Because we play a fast-paced game, I think it wouldn’t affect us as much as a slower-paced team that 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 the fast hitters,” he said. “So we don’t really need a shot clock for summer leagues.”

Damien’s girls’ coach, Mark Arquero, is looking forward to it.

“I love it and can’t wait until it’s implemented. Gameplay-wise, I can’t think of anything negative with this change. Administratively, I hope it works well so that all schools are staffed and used properly,” he said. “It would be nice to implement it now in summer leagues so everyone has time to get used to it, but I imagine some schools still need to buy their own and install it.”

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 players preparing for college, but also for viewers,” he said.

Veteran official Thomas Yoshida, president of the Hawaii State Basketball Officials Association, noted the pros and cons.

“The game will be faster and the best teams will take advantage of it by being more aggressive to score. However, in the early days of women’s college basketball, more shots were being made due to the shot clock expiring, leading to lower shooting percentages and lower quality of play.”

For small schools that don’t have an excess of pure shooters, that could be a sore problem. In the BIIF, the Konawaena women’s team has dominated for two decades. With a regular-season round-robin schedule, a 40-point gap could turn into an 80-point shot-clock disaster. Or is it the responsibility of all programs and communities to develop more shooters at the high school and youth levels?

While the shot clock discussion has been going on for years, a more recent recommendation from the NFHS would also alter the game’s strategy. The current seven team fouls, 1 and 1 bonus free throws would be set aside in favor of two free throws for the fifth and subsequent team fouls by an opponent for each quarter.

The NFHS site says: “Starting next year, high school basketball teams will shoot two free throws for common fouls when on ‘bonus.’ This change to the 4-8-1 Rule eliminates the one-on-one scenario and sets new foul limits each quarter to award the additional free throw.”

“The reason was that injuries are happening on live balls that bounce off free throws,” Hale said. “I’m fine with that.”

The change in team fouls and free throws has not been officially adapted or discussed in Hawaii. A 1-and-1 free throw deflection kills much of the drama in close games down the stretch.

“I like the restart of fouls,” Hale added. “Sometimes it takes a while for teams to adjust to how close it is being called. With the reset, the game flow is better.”

The pressure-filled free kicks will still be there, more or less.

“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 five fouls per quarter, but with two shots per foul, the game would probably be longer. The harsher penalty may suppress some aggressiveness.”

Many officials work in youth leagues in the off-season, where the shot clock is common. However, some officials will have to step up.

“This will be a year of transition for everyone,” Yoshida said. “Players, coaches and even officials will have to adapt to the new speed of the game.”