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Minnesota State High School League to discuss shot clocks, proposed 4A basketball changes

The board of directors will meet Monday to discuss the proposals.

Monday is a big day for prep sports as the Minnesota State High School League board of directors meeting will feature discussion of proposals that could lead to significant changes in high school basketball. 

On the debate table for years, the introduction of a 35-second shot clock to high school basketball will be discussed after being proposed earlier this year. According to the Star Tribune, the proposal comes with concerns over an estimated cost of $2,500 to install a shot clock – a cost that schools would eat. 

The proposal, which you can read in full right here, calls for 35-second shot clocks to be used in all four classes of varsity basketball in Minnesota. It notes that boys basketball coaches were polled in 2018, with 70 percent favoring a shot clock. A 2017 survey of girls coaches revealed 64 percent support. 

"Shot clocks encourage a structured and efficient style of play that will raise the overall quality of the game. It increases strategy and reduces rough play late in the game, and it increases fan interest," the proposal argues. 

It also aims to rid prep basketball of "incessant" stalling late in games. For example, in a March 2018 girls playoff game, Waseca defeated Marshall 17-4 with reports saying Marshall held the ball for up to eight minutes at a time without Waseca applying any defensive pressure. 

A similar stalling tactic was employed by Hopkins in the 2014 state championship game against Shakopee. 

Wisconsin is adding a shot clock to all varsity games beginning in 2019-20. Other states that use shot clocks are California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Washington.

Re-seeding section finals in Class 4A

Currently, boys and girls basketball in Class 4A features eight sections, with the schools in each section seed 1-8 by coaches. That sets the stage for the section playoffs, with the winner of each section advancing to the state tournament. 

The proposal to be discussed Monday aims to re-seed the final 16 teams during section playoffs, meaning the two teams that advance to each section final won't necessarily play each other. 

"Our proposal keeps intact the current 8 section format but would have AAAA coaches seed the top 8 of the remaining 16 teams after the section semi-final round," the proposal states. 

"After the coaches of the remaining 16 AAAA teams determine the 1-8 seeds via their vote, an MSHSL appointed committee would place the 1 through 8 seeds into one of the 8 sections that make the most geographic sense. The committee would then place each of the remaining 8 teams into a section with geography being a primary, but not the only, consideration."

This proposal would increase the odds that best eight teams in Class 4A reach the state tournament. This past basketball season, the top two teams in 4A girls basketball were Hopkins and Wayzata, who met in the Section 6 final. Hopkins won – and went on to win the state title – while Wayzata, arguably the second-best team in the state, watched from home. 

All in all, the idea would create eight more competitively balanced section finals, with the winners then making up the eight-team state tournament field, which would be reseeded per usual. 

The majority of schools in Class 4A basketball are in the metro area. 

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