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Class A schools preparing for shot clock in 2014-15 season

Winner Activities Director Dan Aaker is not a supporter of shot clocks in high school basketball. It has nothing to do with basketball strategy. Instead, Aaker's main concern is finding someone to operate the shot clock. "We already have a bookke...

Shot Clock
South Dakota Class A schools will begin to use shot clocks during basketball games in 2014-2015 basketball season.

Winner Activities Director Dan Aaker is not a supporter of shot clocks in high school basketball.

It has nothing to do with basketball strategy. Instead, Aaker's main concern is finding someone to operate the shot clock.

"We already have a bookkeeper and game-clock operator, and now we have to hire someone separate to operate the shot clock," Aaker said. "Paying that extra person is not that big of a concern, but finding that person who is reliable is hard. What you hope you don't run into is where two of them are gone and you have to find backups."

On April 16, the South Dakota High School Activities Association Board of Directors voted to approve the addition of a 35-second shot clock for Class A basketball starting in the 2014-15 season. The verdict means both boys' and girls' teams in Class A will play with shot clocks after next season. Shot clocks have been used by Class AA schools since 2008-2009, which leaves Class B schools as the only level of South Dakota high school basketball without them.

Across South Dakota there will be 51 Class A basketball teams that need to install a shot clock in their gymnasiums because of the mandate. The average cost to buy and install a pair of shot clocks is $2,000 to $5,000. That means anywhere from $100,000 to $250,000 could be spent on shot clocks by all the schools combined.

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SDHSAA Executive Director Wayne Carney said the board has not discussed penalties for not installing the shot clock on time. That's because the board is confident all Class A schools will get it done before the start of the 2014-15 season.

Carney said people who will operate the shot clock must be trained. The training will be conducted locally by the school districts, but the activities association will provide each district information on proper rules and regulations on operating the clock during a game.

Like Aaker in Winner, Chamberlain boys' basketball coach and school principal Allan Bertram is starting to think about the installation and cost of a shot clock.

"It will be an extra expense to our district because we will have to pay someone to operate our clock for the varsity games," Bertram said. "But I think it is good that the activities association is giving everybody a year to get their funds together and train people who are going to use it."

Cost and manufacturers

All of the school district representatives interviewed for this story said they will likely purchase their shot clocks from Daktronics, which is an electronic designing and manufacturing company based in Brookings.

Daktronics sales representative Don Hansen said the most basic shot clock the company has is $1,930. That option comes with the shot clock time, but does not have the running game time on it. This style of clock can go on the top of the backboard.

"In general, I tell people the average cost of the project is between $2,000 and $5,000," Hansen said. "With that money, buyers receive a pair of shot clocks and the control panel."

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Hansen said the clocks can go anywhere in the gym depending on its structure, but typically they go on either the wall or the top of the basketball hoop's backboard. Daktronics also offers shot clock models that showcase the game time as well. The first of those models displays the game time and shot clock time and cost $2,995, which includes shipping, installation, power and signal. The second model has the same specifications as the previous clock, but has two circular clusters just outside the shot clock time, which indicate the end of a period. That specific clock weighs 35 pounds and cost $3150.

Bon Homme Activities Director Mike Duffek is not worried about how much the cost will be. He said the communities that surround the Bon Homme School District are always willing to help fundraise. One area of concern Duffek raised is clock malfunctions during a game. He wondered how long it would take to fix.

"That could be 15 to 30 minutes during the middle of the second quarter of the game, which would be a big inconvenience in the middle of the game," he said.

Schools could also purchase extra portable shot clocks, which can be can be purchased individually or in pairs.

There are other options for schools outside of selecting Daktronics to outfit their gymnasiums. Anthem Sports, a supplier of brand name sporting goods and equipment, sells a pair of portable wireless shot clocks for $2,495 for standalone use only. A standalone clock can virtually be placed anywhere, including scorers' tables or stands, and can be found on Amazon.com for $87.99.

Pat Dockendorf runs the game and shot clock for Dakota Wesleyan University home games at the Corn Palace. He also fills in for Mitchell High School games occasionally and does district and region games at the Corn Palace, when shot clock operating is necessary. Dockendorf said it's not hard to learn how to operate shot clocks; it just takes a while to get used to it. He also said that if operators have never run a clock before, they should read the rulebook section on shot clocks and observe someone actually operating a shot/game clock during a basketball contest.

"I am sure there are qualified people out there that can do it," said Dockendorf, who has been a clock operator for nine years. "Once you learn the rules, it's actually not that hard. You just have to give people time to get used to it."

Dockendorf said the Corn Palace pays $25 for clock operating and he receives a check at the end of the season from DWU, but couldn't recall how much it was for.

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Cooperatives and multiple gymnasiums

Because of sports cooperatives, some basketball teams across the state may have to install shot clocks in more than one gymnasium.

Mount Vernon Superintendent/Principal Patrick Mikkonen said the first two options that his school district and the Plankinton district have to focus on is whether they will buy one set of shot clocks and transport them back and forth to each school's gym, or if they will outfit both school gyms with the clocks.

"From a co-op perspective, I could make the claim that it cost us double because we play in two facilities," Mikkonen said. "It doesn't present that much of an obstacle. The big question is whether we are going to invest in one and call it a co-op expense, or if both school districts are going to have one, so they can call it their own and have it in both gyms."

Mikkonen added that he and other members of his school district have not met with members of the Plankinton district to discuss the possibility of using one gym or continuing to use two.

McCook Central and Montrose High School will continue to compete in each school's high school gymnasium.

"We will continue to use both because of equality," McCook Central Activities Director Jack Rasmussen said. "Equality is part of a co-op agreement, which means what we do for one school we do for the other."

When Class A plays B

Schools that play Class B basketball will not be forced to install a shot clock in their gymnasiums, but what happens when they play a game against a Class A opponent?

According to the SDHSAA Board of Directors, "if a Class B school is playing against a Class A or AA school and there is a shot clock available, the shot clock shall be used." This rule means that when Class B schools compete in an away game against a Class A or AA school, they will have to use the shot clock. In contrast, if a Class A or AA school plays a Class B school in the Class B gymnasium, they would not use a shot clock if one is not available there.

This regulation is specific to varsity contests only. Competing schools may mutually agree to use the shot clock during sub-varsity contests.

Tripp-Delmont/Armour boys' basketball coach Craig Holbeck said playing with a shot clock when Class B schools play Class A teams adds another element that Class B teams will have to prepare for.

"We are a (Class B) school, and we have been known to run offense for a while and get good shots," said Holbeck, whose team played three Class A opponents last season. "When we play A schools, things will change a bit. At the end of the quarter, if you have the ball with 50 seconds left, you may want to take a quicker shot so you can get the ball back in time for one last shot."

But while some may not be in favor of the shot clock, the mandate is in place.

"Nowadays money is tough to come by when it comes to funding," Chamberlain's Bertram said. "We are going to have to find a way to find the money for the shot clock, and we will make it work."

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