MACON, Ga. — The shot clock.
We know it as a pretty essential part of the game of basketball, but at the high school level in Georgia, it really hasn't been -- until now.
“Well, I knew that the Georgia High School (Association) was moving to the shot clock,” Bibb County Director of Athletics and former Northeast head coach Kevin Grooms said. “We started during the summertime and we carried over throughout the season because we knew that the state tournament was going to require the shot clock to be used.”
Last season, schools were permitted to use the shot clock in games, should their respective regions elect to. Northeast was just one of the many Bibb County schools that planned for a change.
Months later the GHSA has made it official: beginning in the 2022-23 school year, all Varsity level competitions between GHSA schools will be played with a 35-second shot clock.
“To this point, the schools that have been using it for two years think it's the greatest thing going,” GHSA Assistant Executive Director Ernie Yarbrough said.
But why make the change?
The answer seems obvious.
“We're trying to prepare kids for college, and they use the shot clock in college,” Grooms said.
“The kids that are moving on to play at the next level, they'll already have experience with playing under it,” Southwest head coach Monquencio Hardnett said. “That one year of experience will help them and give them some experience to play with it.”
Most notably, the shot clock speeds up the pace of play, which for many is a good thing.
“If I've got kids that can run up and down the court, I'm not worried about it at all,” Yarbrough said. “If I've got kids though that I think I may not be as strong as my opponent and I do need to burn more clock, then it is going to be a deterrent to me.”
“Stall ball method doesn't work anymore,” Grooms said. “So you have to actually play the game of basketball for four quarters, all the way through.”
But as the level of play goes up, so does the space between the teams that can keep up on the floor, and the ones that can’t.
“You've just got some teams that are going to be extremely good and you're going to have some teams that are just not going to be that good for that given year,” Grooms said. “And I think that's going to affect some smaller schools.”
Small school or large, fast paced or not -- it's a change that gets Central Georgia's top hoopers a step closer to the real deal.
“The game just flows so much better,” Hardnett said. “To be honest with you it was probably a year or two too late.”