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    Sunday, September 25, 2022

    CIAC adopts 35-second shot clock for boys’, girls’ basketball

    New London’s Craig Parker huddles his team during a 2021 game against St. Bernard. The veteran coach has mixed emotions about the CIAC’s decision to incorporate a 35-second shot clock at the high school level starting in 2023-24. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
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    Stonington coach Paulla Solar was thrilled to heard the CIAC will adopt a 35-second shot lock for high school basketball starting in 2023-24. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    A shot clock stands is seen in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game between Maryland and Iowa in College Park, Md., Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

    The notice came from the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Association on Thursday that a 35-second shot clock was adopted for the state’s high school girls’ and boys’ basketball teams beginning with the 2023-24 season.

    The first word that came to mind for Stonington High School girls’ basketball coach Paulla Solar, entering her 31st season: “Finally!”

    “We waited forever,” Solar said. “I just think that not having a clock hasn’t helped the girls’ game at all, the stalling that you come across. It’s just a much more exciting game. ... It has haunted me.

    “The sad thing about it is we used to have a 30-second shot clock (in the 1980s). I feel like we took a step backwards when we let it go. I think the total picture of basketball is going to change, making it that much more exciting to watch the game.”

    The CIAC Board of Control approved a measure Thursday that mandates the shot clock at the varsity level, with it being optional at the junior varsity and freshman level. An adult must run the shot clock at the varsity level but that is not mandated for JV and freshman games.

    A shot clock proposal from the CIAC boys’ and girls’ basketball committees was defeated in March by a vote of athletic directors, 89-84. That version of the regulation mandated the shot clock for all three levels.

    Because of that defeat, Thursday’s announcement — approved after the basketball committees adapted their proposal, thus earning approval from the athletic directors — came as somewhat of a surprise to coaches.

    Stonington boys’ coach Jay Wosencroft first texted Solar, who then passed the message on to girls’ coaching colleagues at Norwich Free Academy, Ledyard, St. Bernard and Waterford.

    “I figured I’d make their day,” Solar said. “I feel like there’s a little bit of history happening.”

    New London boys’ basketball coach Craig Parker said he has some “sentimental mixed feelings” about the shot clock, he said, agreeing with it in general.

    New London, though, defeated state power Trinity Catholic and its three Division I recruits at the time, including future UConn star Rashamel Jones, for the Class M state championship in 1995, winning a rather deliberate 49-43 decision.

    “We played a possession game,” Parker said, reminiscing. “In other words, we used the clock. Our strategy was to take a minute off every possession. We pulled off what some people considered one of the biggest upsets.”

    Parker said it will take some adjustment for teams to play with the shot clock. It should favor defensive teams, who now only have to play 35 seconds of good defense at a clip, and also increase the scoring in games, he said.

    “Perhaps you are going to have to practice somewhat differently,” Parker said. “When we do play out of state sometimes, it takes a period of adjustment.”

    In May, 2021, the National Federation of State High School Associations failed to mandate a shot clock nationwide, leaving it up to each state, but encouraged “standardization among states.” That, perhaps, was among the reasons for Connecticut’s rethinking of the shot clock.

    “Rhode Island already has the clock, obviously the colleges,” Solar said. “Now you’re playing the type of basketball they’re playing in college. ... I believe that basketball should be fast-paced and exciting and fast-breaking. That’s just my philosophy.

    “It’s hard to hold the ball for a long time. It throws your tempo off. People don’t want to come watch a game where for 4, 5, 6, 7 minutes, people are not shooting. I think that takes the thrill out of the game.”

    v.fulkerson@theday.com

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