A high school basketball shot clock remains part of the conversation in New Mexico. But it exists right now only at the theoretical level.
As of now, only 11 states and the District of Columbia utilize a shot clock for high school games. Other states are circling the idea.
New Mexico is not yet seriously moving in that direction, and recent data and surveys don’t indicate that shot clocks are on the horizon anytime soon.
At last month’s state tournament, two-person teams, all certified officials, gathered data on each possession during the final three days of the second week of the postseason. That included games at the Pit, the Rio Rancho Events Center and Bernalillo High School.
“We need to see if it’s good for New Mexico or not,” NMAA executive director Sally Marquez said of the organization’s objective.
More than 3,700 possessions were timed at all three venues for 28 of the 30 semifinals and championship games in the metro area from March 10-12. First-round games and quarterfinal games, which were played on campus sites, are not included.
According to the data gathered by the NMAA and obtained by the Journal, only 2.5% of those 3,705 possessions — 93 in all — exceeded 35 seconds in duration until a shot went up and hit the rim. Only 68 possessions (or 1.8%) lasted between 30-34 seconds, where a shot clock “could have become a factor for officials, timekeepers or players.”
For possessions 30 seconds and above before a shot hit the rim, 18 of 161 “appeared to be end-of-quarter/half/game, last-shot situations,” according to the NMAA.
The NMAA also broke down the results according to gender.
A total of 1,975 boys possessions were timed, with 41 (2%) exceeding 35 seconds and 22 (1.1%) lasting between 30 and 34 seconds. For the girls, 1,730 possessions were timed. Of those, 52 (3%) lasted more than 35 seconds, and 46 (2.7%) were between 30-34 seconds.
According to the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), states that have deployed a shot clock have established the shooting deadline at either 30 or 35 seconds.
In California and North Dakota, plus the District of Columbia, the boys are 35 seconds, the girls 30 seconds.
In South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota, both are 35 seconds. In Maryland, Rhode Island, Washington and Massachusetts, both genders are set at 30 seconds. Georgia is prepared to shift from 30 to 35 seconds for both genders. New York’s boys have 35 seconds to shoot; the girls follow NCAA guidelines, which is 30 seconds and then reset to 20 after a shot attempt hits the rim.
In New Mexico, it is going to be a difficult financial ask for many schools, particularly smaller ones, to institute the required technology.
NMAA Commissioner of Officials Zac Stevenson said even if a school already has a compatible scoreboard, the cost would be roughly $5,000 to add the shot clocks to any particular gym. If a school is not equipped with the right scoreboard, the cost would balloon to about $10,000 and perhaps even more, Stevenson said. Also, the state’s on-court officials would have to be trained with the additional clock, in addition to local personnel at individual schools to work it at the scorer’s table.
In December of 2018, when the University of New Mexico men’s basketball team played the University of the Southwest at Tasker Arena in Hobbs — the home of the Hobbs High basketball teams — shot clocks had to be added.
The clocks themselves cost $3,900; Hobbs handled the installation itself, the Journal reported last year.
During the state tournament last month, one official timed the length of possessions, the other logged the times down on a chart.
The NFHS in May of 2021 announced that states can add a 35-second shot starting in the 2022-23 season, but only if they so desire. Marquez said that won’t be happening in New Mexico this coming season.
Marquez said a recent survey conducted by the NMAA indicates a 60-40 split, with the majority opposing a shot clock. The reasons are not only financial in nature, but many also believe New Mexico’s prep basketball product does not need tinkering.
“I think we’ll look at it every year,” Marquez said, adding, “At this point, a shot clock for (20)22-23 is not necessary.”
There was at the national level a proposal last year for a national rule mandating a shot clock, but it was denied. The NFHS left it to state associations to move forward as they wish. If there does come a day that New Mexico wants to add a shot clock, the NMAA’s board of directors have the sole power to make it happen.