At the second meeting of the year for the Wyoming High School Activities Association, on Halloween, the board approved a measure that will see the 35-second shot clock introduced into 3A and 4A …
At the second meeting of the year for the Wyoming High School Activities Association, on Halloween, the board approved a measure that will see the 35-second shot clock introduced into 3A and 4A basketball starting in the 2026-27 season, putting a temporary close on a discussion that has been ongoing for years.
First, I was shocked that the activities association had met so quickly after their first meeting in September, not expecting this decision to be made until around this time when the board usually meets.
However, when it passed on first reading I was surprised considering it had been constantly shot down for years.
From what I have heard the main reason it took so long to approve was because it was initially presented as an all class or no class solution, and was whittled down to just 3A and 4A being approved for the measure.
Do I think this is a right step in the right direction? Absolutely.
Will it take some adjusting to? Absolutely.
With this will come a cost to the school both in man hours and to install new clocks that contain shot clocks, with athletic director Richard Despain saying he is uncertain how much it will cost the district at this time.
“We are still looking at options that will work for us, and have not yet decided what route we will go with,” Despain said. “Any route will cost a decent amount. How much? We just don’t know at this point.”
On top of that, Despain said that there will be a need for an additional person at the scorer’s table whose only job is to run the shot clock.
He said they will need to read up on the training for shot clock operators, and hopes to be able to train with the clocks before that season comes in three years’ time.
With the change coming, Despain said it is to be used for all levels of high school basketball for 3A and 4A, so it appears as if JV and freshmen will also have to use the shot clock when it comes.
Another concern I had that Despain addressed was if a team plays across class such as Powell against Rocky which is a yearly event for local teams.
He said that it is his understanding that the home school will dictate if the shot clock is in use when different classes play each other since 2A and 1A will not be implementing the rule at this time.
I think that is a good rule, and will not fully eliminate the ability to play across classes with so many teams from different classifications in the northwest region playing each other often.
Will this up the pace of high school basketball in Wyoming? I sure hope so.
In addition to my thoughts, I figured I would reach out to the head coaches at the high school in Mike Heny for the boys and Chelsea Kistler for the girls to get their thoughts on the change.
“Obviously to advance the game the shot clock is needed,” Kistler said. “Colleges want to see kids being able to utilize their instincts offensively. On the other hand, it’s teaching the game to another level for all kids, not just kids wanting to play at the next level.”
It will definitely be a learning curve for kids around the state when it comes to competition in 2026, with Heny expressing his approval of the change.
“I have been in favor of adding the shot clock for the past several years now,” Heny said. “My only disappointment is that we are going to play three more full seasons until it becomes part of our game in Wyoming.”
Thankfully on both sides, both coaches believe that their players already play at a strong enough pace to where it will not affect the way they run their offense and defense, but it will take time to adjust and mistakes will likely come early in the learning period.
“I feel our team already plays at a quicker pace and are looking to push the ball, therefore, I don’t see it being a big ‘mental block’ for us adding the shot clock. However, it is another level of the game that must be taught to our players that has not been a factor in the past and is just another facet of the game that will now be taught and learned at an earlier age than college,” Kistler said.
She added that she believes some teams may press more with the addition of the clock to try and whittle down the clock early and force more hurried offense, leading to potentially more rushed shots and turnovers especially early in the process.
“As the shot clock becomes the norm, I see it becoming just a part of the game, like it is at the college level,” Kistler said.
She said that teaching the instinct to read and react to what is presented is difficult at the high school level, and it may be harder for kids who don’t play in the offseason or watch the game consistently to learn.
Heny said it will not affect the way the Panther boys play.
“It won’t affect our philosophy on offense or defense because I prefer an up-tempo style already and we try to shoot the first good shot we get within our system. We will most likely have to add a few quick hitter sets just to make sure we can get a decent shot at the end of the shot clock,” he said.
Heny added that coaches try to tailor their system around the players on the team, and that it will take a few years to determine whether or not teams will play faster and live with more mistakes.
“Shooting will have to improve and coaches will have to be more willing to live with more shots being taken, and that will take time to evolve,” Heny said.
Both coaches believe that there will be a learning curve for implementing the shot clock for workers, with the scorer’s table needing to understand when to reset each time while working with officials to get it right each time.
I do hope that the shot clock brings a positive impact to the game in Wyoming.
I understand there will be a learning curve for players, coaches, workers and officials, but I believe it will help advance the game in the future as the WHSAA joins 27 other states that already use the shot clock as of 2023-24.