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January 24. 2013 10:42PM

Jim Fennell's High School Hoopla: Endorsements for a shot clock


Campbell's Avery LaCroix goes to the hoop past Lauren Barker of Sanborn during Thursday's game in Litchfield. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)

The prospect of New Hampshire using a shot clock in high school basketball any time soon is not likely. The reason against it is part political, part financial and part philosophical.

And, as with most cases, politics are the biggest factor.

In May, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) voted not to add a shot clock for boys or girls. Any state that does play with a shot clock - Rhode Island and Massachusetts are among eight that do - essentially loses its say at the national level. That is not something the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association wants to do.

"It's prohibited by the federation and it's in our bylaws that we will follow federation rules," said Pat Corbin, executive director of the NHIAA. "The crafters of our constitution felt that was important."

Still, Corbin said, the topic is brought up every year to the NHIAA basketball committee.

"Probably the majority of people would favor a shot clock," Corbin said.

Most coaches certainly would.

In an informal survey of about dozen coaches, almost all favored having a shot clock. Merrimack coach Tim Goodridge said his feelings change depending on the makeup of the team he has that particular season.

Goodridge remembers playing a talented Manchester Central team that featured Tyler Roche. He said his team played the Little Green close because it was able to work time off the clock and limit Central's possessions. That strategy wouldn't work if a shot clock were used.

"They would have killed us," Goodridge said. "They were that much better than us."

Nashua South coach Nate Mazerolle said he was against having a shot clock for the longest time, but his feelings have changed over the years. He said his teams in the past needed to work the ball patiently to get a good shot and that would sometimes take more than 30 or 35 seconds.

"That's not the case lately," Mazerolle said. "I'm not going to say I'm all for a shot clock, but I would be fine with it."

Goffstown coach Justin Gorham, who coached with a shot clock in California, said he had to adjust to not playing with one when he started coaching the Grizzlies. He still wants to play up-tempo and he thinks many other teams in Division II do also. The reason? It's fun for the players, fun for the coaches and fun for the fans.

Gorham said he noticed a much more deliberate "side to side," game in Division I when he was serving as athletic director at Manchester Central last year. No team can be as deliberate as Central, but long-time Little Green coach Doc Wheeler is one of the coaches at the forefront of implementing a shot clock.

Wheeler thinks the shot clock rewards better teams and brings more coaching into the game. One thing for certain is that teams would not be able to protect a lead late by holding the ball.

Dover coach Mike Romps said teams would find themselves facing a "sense of urgency" to get into an offensive set for a good shot.

"Some coaches wait for the perfect shot and this would force them out of their comfort zone," Romps said.

"I don't think anyone wants two-minute possessions," Spaulding of Rochester coach Tom Cronin said. "I think it would make it a better game."

Bishop Guertin of Nashua coach Jim Migneault said the clock played a factor when the Cardinals scrimmaged La Salle Academy of Providence, R.I. He said a shot clock rewards a team for good defense and it gets players more ready if they want to play in college.

Corbin is not sure support for a shot clock is universal through all divisions and part of that is financial. A shot clock costs over $2,000 and there is the additional cost for hiring someone to operate it, a burden for small schools already running on a shoestring.

"I understand that," Romps said. "Unfortunately, that's something we have to deal with."




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TAKING THE LEAD: That's what Jordon Richard is doing for the Raymond Rams this season. The Rams were dealt a big blow a few weeks ago when four players were suspended, three for attending a party.

Richard, as senior guard, helped the Rams go 2-2 in that stretch, scoring his 1,000th point in the process and helping Raymond avenge an earlier loss to Epping. Now those players are back and the Rams could be a factor in Division III with Richard at the lead.

"He definitely stepped it up this year. Leadership, scoring, every way," Raymond coach Rich Winget said.




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FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS-BASKETBALL VERSION: We'll go small school for this one. The Littleton boys' team has been crushing teams while going 10-0 to sit atop the Division IV standings. Six of the Crusaders' wins have been by 29 points or more. A defensive-minded Profile team that has allowed more than 50 points just twice while going 8-1 should challenge that streak tonight in Bethlehem.





jfennell@unionleader.com


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