The days of Utah high school basketball teams spreading the floor midway through the fourth quarter and trying to protect a lead are about to be a thing of the past.

The UHSAA board of trustees announced Thursday that it voted unanimously to approve the use of a 35-second shot clock in boys and girls basketball games in all classifications beginning with the 2022-23 school year.

It’s a topic that always generated a lot of discussion through the years as teams stalled and protected a lead toward the end of the game. The UHSAA always opted to follow the recommendation of the basketball rules committee of the National Federation of High Schools, which didn’t recommend a shot clock.

Last spring the NFHS announced that state associations could start adopting a shot clock for the 2022-23 school year and the UHSAA wasted no time in pursuing the idea. Coaches, referees and administrators were polled throughout the process and Olympus boys basketball coach Matt Barnes, who is the president of the boys coaches association, said the response throughout was almost always in favor of the shot clock.

The board of trustees determined that it will be up to the host schools and regions whether the shot clock will be used for sub-varsity games, but they will be used for all varsity games. As for how the equipment and staffing of the equipment will be paid for, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach and will likely be determined by school districts.

Barnes said a study was referenced by the UHSAA during the process that the average possession in both boys and girls basketball was about 29 seconds, so a shot clock wouldn’t have a big impact on the current flow of a game. It’s the end of the game where it will have a huge impact.

“The stigma in Utah has always been that in the fourth quarter when you’re down four to six, you’re really down 10 to 12 ’cause they make you play the foul game and chase game and stall. And now if you play good defense you get rewarded. It will change the game big time in the fourth quarter,” said Barnes, who’s in his 25th year as head coach at Olympus.

The Deseret News reached out to boys and girls basketball coaches across the state and asked them to share their opinion on the decision and how it will affect the game.

Class 6A

Roy girls coach Carolyn DeHoff

“This is fantastic news for our Utah basketball players. I realize there will be growing pains but in the long run it is what’s right for the continued growth of boys and girls basketball in our state.”

Mountain Ridge girls coach Kenzie Newton

“We have had many discussions among coaches and I feel that a shot clock is a positive thing for high school basketball. It allows for play progression, coaching strategy and avoids stalling tactics. It gives players more freedom to read and react, which brings a new level of excitement to the game. It also prepares those wanting to play at the collegiate level an easier transition.”

Skyridge boys coach Jeff Gardner

“I am excited with the passing of the shot clock. It will undoubtedly make the game better for players and fans alike. I’m really happy that it got done.”

Riverton girls coach Jodi Lee

“I like this move. Our players here in Utah are proving more and more every year that they have the athleticism to play at a faster pace. Bringing in the shot clock will make a more competitive environment and make the games more exciting. No one wants to watch a team dribble and pass the ball in a stall game for an extended amount of time. Our players will be forced to win games by playing great defense and offense. This is an exciting move.”

Layton boys coach Kelby Miller

“We are excited for this change in high school basketball. We think it is something that players, fans and most coaches wanted to see for several years. Most teams will not see much of a change in how they play. However, it will make the end of quarters and games more exciting as teams will not be able to hold the ball if they have a lead. The shot clock will obviously help teams defensively. Players will only have to lock in on the defensive side for 35 seconds instead of over a minute against certain teams.”

Fremont girls coach Lisa Dalebout

“I am grateful the UHSAA adopted the shot clock and excited to be a part of growing the game into a more competitive fast-paced version of itself. This will help Utah be more competitive nationally and better prepare our college athletes for the next level.”

Class 5A

Lehi girls coach Sean Seastrand

“I’m all for it. I think most possessions are under 35 seconds anyways, but where it makes a big difference is the end of games. The worst part about high school basketball in Utah is teams stalling up six with three minutes to play. This will create much more exciting games that have more flow to them, especially close games. I don’t think it will actually speed up the pace of play too much, generally speaking. But I think it’s long overdue and I am excited about it.”

Wasatch boys coach James Ballstaedt

“I am so excited about this decision and think it is so good for these kids and the sport of basketball. I believe it helps kids become better decision-makers in the game. Not to mention a more exciting game for spectators and players. The impact will mainly be seen at the end of quarters not so much during the middle of the game. No need to foul as much to stop the clock as the game winds down. This is a great thing for our sport.”

Maple Mountain girls coach Cory Green

“I feel this is overall a good thing for high school basketball in Utah, as it will keep the game more consistent with the college level as well as add an additional element of excitement. I honestly think the effect will be minimal from a game management/coaching perspective throughout most of the game, as many teams play more of an up-tempo style as it is in this day and age. I can see it impacting the end-of-game scenarios in a tight match, however. The only negative I can see is that it does put an extra cost and manpower burden on the host schools for game nights.”

Brighton boys coach Garrett Wilson

“The shot clock addition is something that has needed to happen in Utah for a long time and I am glad that the NFHS has finally put a rule in place. We play in a tournament with a shot clock every year out of state and I can honestly say it improves the game for everyone: the fans, the players, the coaches, the officials. These games are supposed to be for the kids, the players. Having a shot clock takes the focus off of the coach’s strategy (deliberately slow the game down or stalling), putting the focus on the players and the back-and-forth competition between the teams. That is the true beauty and essence of sport — the sheer fun and excitement of competition.”

Lehi boys coach Quincy Lewis

“his is really good for Utah high school basketball. Having a shot clock places greater emphasis on crisp offensive and defensive execution. Good for the Uhsaa is helping get this done.”

Uintah girls coach John Elison

“I really don’t think it is worth the money and manpower to implement. The average girls team possession is well below 35 seconds so I don’t see it changing much for what we are putting into it. Two things that will be affected are holding for last shots at end of quarters or end of games or stalling. The one positive twist is that it rewards great defensive teams. For me and my team, that is a good thing. If a team can hold tough on defense for 35 seconds they are essentially creating a turnover with a forced shot.”

Olympus boys coach Matt Barnes

“It’s better for our game. Everybody on the committee was all on board with it being better for our kids, better for our game, preparing kids for college. Not that we have tons of college kids, it’s just better for the game. We’ve been wanting it for years and it’s been on the table and approached and now that the NFHS gave us the opportunity the state was on board.”

Lone Peak overcomes Brighton's stall to advance to the 5A championship
Back in a 2013 boys basketball state semifinal, big underdog Brighton held the ball for 11 minutes in the first half against Lone Peak to try and shorten the game. This tactic will no longer be possible in Utah starting next season with the implementation of the shot clock. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Class 4A

Crimson Cliffs boys coach Kasey Winters

“I think the move to adopt a shot clock is great for Utah high school basketball. It will create a different and better brand of basketball in the state. It will be even more exciting to participate in and to watch.”

Pine View girls coach Ben Luce

“I think the inclusion of a shot clock is long overdue. I grew up in Utah, played or coached since the ’90s. My wife grew up in California and even girls basketball there had a shot clock in the late ’90s. She found it odd when she moved to Utah that a shot clock wasn’t used here. The game has evolved a lot and is always evolving. It’s about time Utah keeps up with it. I started coaching high school boys basketball in Kanab in 2007, eventually switched to coaching girls in Kanab, and now I’m at Pine View. In those 15 years anytime it’s come up in questionnaires or surveys, I’ve voted yes to add it. I’m glad to see it’s happening. Even 15 years ago, a lot of coaches preferred slower, ‘old-fashioned’ ball-control ability to play keepaway basketball at end of quarters and games. A vote against a shot clock for that reason I could never relate to. It adds levels of strategy and exciting, quicker pace of play for end-of-game situations. Stalls will be less prevalent. More than just man-to-man defense will still be an option. Coaching will be a little more detailed as players’ IQ and understanding of game situations clock management will be imperative. I feel a main reason for lack of implementation has been the cost of technology and extra training to use it, which for a lot of schools in Utah is understandable. But the overall benefit for the quality of game will improve.”

Ridgeline girls coach Ainsli Jenks

“I like the idea of having a shot clock in high school, I think it adds a new dimension to the game. It will definitely have an effect on coaching strategies and will pose some new challenges. It will also increase the scoring disparity when opponents aren’t evenly matched. Overall, I think it will be great. I enjoy a fast-paced style of play and I think that’s what we’ll see more of with a shot clock.”

Green Canyon girls coach Alexis Bird

“I think it brings a lot of positive changes to the game, especially because it prevents teams from playing stall ball all game and changes some strategy at the end of games. I am a little concerned which levels will use it, especially because a lot of girls in the younger levels are still learning the game and a shot clock potentially could affect that. Overall, it’s something new to the high school level and there are always adjustments with new things. Luckily we have some time to adapt to it.”

Class 3A

Juab girls coach Brady Wellburn

“Bringing a shot clock will add another element to the game. Basketball is always evolving and it will be fun to see how this impacts the high school level. Kids grow up watching the shot clock in the college and NBA levels, why not bring it to the high school level?”

Juan Diego boys coach Drew Trost

“I was so excited when I heard the news today. It is long overdue. I just don’t think the end of basketball games should become a game of keep away. If you’re down four with 1:30 left in a high school game, you are in real trouble. With a shot clock, that is still anyone’s game. The game will be much better overall. Terrific news.”

Class 2A

Millard girls coach Melanie Bassett

“I’m excited for the new rule of a shot clock. I think it will speed up the play of the game and make for more exciting and enjoyable games to watch.”

Beaver girls coach Jonathan Marshall

“I think the biggest issue that schools may face will be on the administrative end. The cost of equipment and additional personnel to run the clock may be an issue for some smaller schools. I don’t think it will be that much of a change other than it will alter how coaches handle some end-of-game situations. Hopefully it’s a positive change that will make the game better.”

Millard boys coach Darrin Rhodes
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“I think it is great and we are looking forward to it. Hopefully it will speed the game up and get rid of 25-30 point games. The thing I look forward to the most is it will force the coaches to get our coaching done at practice and put the games in the hands of the boys. Hopefully no more trying to control every second and possession of the game, up tempo and fun. Great news.”

Kanab girls Klint Glover

“I don’t mind the idea for the simple reason that it can work to reward good defense in some instances. I don’t love the added expense for equipment and officials. I guess my attitude is just to try it and see. I have never coached with a shot clock so, like everyone else, I will know more after a year of it.”

Class 1A

Tabiona boys coach Lee Gines

“I have seen a few major changes to high school basketball during my 40 years of coaching high school basketball from the 3-point shot to rebounding positions on the free-throw line. Each one of those changes causes a coach to make adjustments. I think it will mostly effect how teams manage the clock at the end of quarters and the end of games. I know I will have to make some changes to my coaching style. Overall I think it will be a good thing for high school basketball. What’s next, the half circle under the basket for taking charges?”

Valley girls coach Dustin Cox

“Not sure I have a preference one way or the other. Speeding the game up is exciting for the fans. It takes away the option of a stall game if you can handle the ball really good and shoot foul shots good.”

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