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Shot clocks in Nebraska: The costs, preparation and nuances as Class A gears up for new era

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After years of discussion and anticipation, the shot clock era of Nebraska high school basketball is just around the corner.

A 35-second shot clock is coming to Class A basketball for the 2022-23 season, and there’s plenty to be done before the season gets underway in early December. Naturally, the first item on that list is getting the shot clocks permanently installed.

According to Lincoln Public Schools director of athletics Kathi Wieskamp, shot clocks have been ordered and are on their way for all LPS high schools. The purchase comes with a total price tag of $29,700, while installation efforts will cost another $28,800.

“Each scoreboard is different, so it’s a matter of interfacing with each different one,” Wieskamp said. “Most of the boards are designed so that it’s just a component they have to add. We’ve worked with facilities to have them all evaluated for installation, so I don’t think it will be a major shutdown for the gyms to get those added.”

That’s a perspective shared by Lincoln Southwest athletic director Mark Armstrong, who doesn’t anticipate gyms to be out of commission for long. From each individual school’s perspective, the up-front costs are currently minimal but will rise variably in the near future.

Schools will need to train and pay an additional person to run the shot clock at varsity basketball contests — and training will be important. Shot clock operators must know when possession changes and quickly identify if an attempted shot hit the rim rather than the backboard around it.

Beyond that, there aren’t many other hang-ups in getting the shot clock era rolling. It’s already underway at Lincoln Pius X, where the Thunderbolts’ summer girls basketball camp features portable 35-second shot clocks along the baseline.

Lincoln Pius X shot clock 1

Lincoln Pius X's Ava Markowski attempts a three-pointer at a summer basketball camp using shot clocks on Monday at Pius X High School.

Pius X’s permanent shot clocks will be installed later this summer, but girls basketball head coach Ryan Psota felt it was important for teams to raise their situational awareness in different scenarios with the shot clock.

“For example, an offensive rebound comes off the rim and you don’t have to put up a quick shot,” Psota said. “It’s all these little nuances that kids are going to have to get used to with the shot clock, but it’s going really well.”

The summer basketball camp action on Monday hardly represented a large change in how the game is played. Class B school York, which will not play with a shot clock next year, was caught with a shot-clock violation early in a scrimmage against Bellevue East, but no other violations occurred after that.

Most Class A teams already had 35-second or quicker possessions, so the preseason contests flowed at a similar pace to what fans are used to. However, the biggest impact a shot clock can make was evident in Pius X’s scrimmage against Bellevue East.

The Chieftains led by two points with less than 1 minute left on the game clock, a situation that, in the past, would have led to Pius X committing a foul to stop the clock.

Instead, Pius X sat back on defense and forced a stop to get the ball back with 30 seconds left.

“As somebody who has had teams stall on us, it’s going to help change the last part of the quarter and games,” Psota said. “It’s also helpful for a team that’s down seven points with two minutes left, they don’t have to foul anymore so it helps the game.”

At this point, teams and players alike are ready for the shot clock this winter. All that’s left is simply getting the permanent clocks installed, a process that will take place in the next two months before the start of the school year in August.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7437 or at LMullin@journalstar.com. On Twitter @lmullin7

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