IHSAA not interested in shot clock

Prior to coming to Evansville in February, I worked in North Dakota for about two years. Early in my tenure there, the state adopted a shot clock for high school basketball.

Several other states use a shot clock as well (California, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Washington). The Indiana High School Athletic Association has no interest in implementing a shot clock, as I learned through email communication with IHSAA spokeman Jason Wille earlier this week.

The two major pros of the shot clock:

1) It ends “stall ball,” where teams attempt to hold the ball for minutes at a time without attempting a shot, usually at the end of quarters. This makes games more exciting for fans, and losing teams can likely wait longer before starting to foul at the end of games (because they know the other team has to attempt a shot within a set period of time).

2) It helps athletes prepare for the college level, where they have to be aware of the shot clock. It also fosters the ability for a player to create his own shot late in the clock, a skill college programs covet.

The cons that Wille mentioned:

1) Implementing the shot clock costs money for already budget-strapped schools, both to purchase the equipment and to add a shot-clock operator for each contest.

2) Indiana follows the rules of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). If Indiana adopted a shot clock and deviated from NFHS rules, Indiana would lose its seat at the table on the national rules committee for high school basketball.

This latter con is particularly important. Wille described a spot on the national rules committee as “an important privilege,” and it would certainly be odd if a basketball-mad state like Indiana didn’t have a say in future rule changes at the high school level.

The logical conclusion is that a shot clock would lead to more fan-friendly, high-scoring games. But a statistical analysis released by Maxpreps.com in January found that scoring averages were actually slightly higher for states without shot clocks.

Of course, other factors played into this as well, such as Minnesota (the highest-scoring state) playing two 18-minute halves, which adds four minutes of game time compared to the national standard of four 8-minute quarters.

For those against “stall ball,” two halves rather than four quarters could also be a positive rule change, as it would remove two opportunities for teams to milk the clock in search of the final shot in a period.

What do you think? Should the IHSAA pursue a shot clock and/or implement two halves rather than four quarters?

Core group leads Mater Dei’s baseball team to 11-2 mark, No. 6 ranking in Class 2A

With six core players returning from a 22-8 team, Mater Dei has soared to an 11-2 record and a No. 6 ranking in the latest Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Class 2A poll. However, sectional foe and defending 2A state champion South Spencer is No. 1.
“I really think we’ve played well together as a team,” said Wildcats coach Steve Ricketts. “We’re not pounding people, but we’re winning games. We’ve had several one-run games and we’ve been able to pull them off. We’re making the most of our opportunities. They push each other to work hard and they want to win.”
Mater Dei is second in the Southern Indiana Athletic Conference with a 5-1 record. Memorial leads the league at 4-0. Castle is third at 4-1.
Will LaRue, a senior center fielder who signed with Xavier University, leads Mater Dei in hitting (.383) and stolen bases (20 in 22 attempts). Jake Fleming, a senior shortstop headed for the University of Southern Indiana, is batting .326 with eight runs batted in. Seth Kruse, a senior catcher, is hitting .282 with nine RBIs.
Ben Sellers, a junior first baseman-pitcher, has been a standout at the plate and on the mound. He is batting .316 with nine RBIs. The “goggle-wearing lefty” – as Ricketts describes him – is 3-1 with a 2.22 earned run average. Sellers has struck out 21, walked eight and allowed 14 hits in 22 innings.
Chase Partain, a soft-tossing senior lefty, threw all 10 innings in Mater Dei’s 2-1 victory over Princeton last Saturday. He allowed one unearned run while walking two and fanning 11. For the season, Partain is 3-0 with a 0.72 ERA.
“He is not going to overpower you,” Ricketts said. “He doesn’t throw particularly hard, but he throws strikes. He’s a crafty lefty.”
Blake Wildeman, a senior righty, is 2-0 with a 3.26 ERA.
The Wildcats were rained out Monday at Mount Vernon and the game will not be rescheduled. They will return to action at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Heritage Hills, then play at Harrison in SIAC action at 4 p.m. Friday, then host Class 4A No. 6-ranked New Albany at 10 a.m. Saturday at Bosse Field.
The postponed Mater Dei-Reitz game has been rescheduled for 4 p.m. May 7 at the Barker Avenue Complex because Bosse Field will be unavailable.

–Gordon Engelhardt

South Spencer’s speed a dangerous weapon

An astute observation from South Spencer’s 3-0 win Tuesday over Castle: The Rebels have some fast baseball players.

And while hand-eye coordination and arm strength are often cited as the most important physical tools in the sport, it doesn’t hurt to have good wheels.

The Rebels (5-0), the defending Class 2A state champ and the top-ranked team in that class this season, have a few guys who can flat-out move.

In Tuesday’s game, sophomore leadoff Kobe Stephens beat out a well-placed bunt down the third-base line — after stumbling and falling over while leaving the batter’s box. That speed translated to the field as well, where Stephens easily tracked down three shallow fly balls that could’ve been bloop singles against slower shortstops.

Left fielder Isaac Rowan legged out two infield singles and covered plenty of ground on fly balls hit in his direction, getting under the pop-ups to record easy outs.

“We do have quite a bit of speed in a lot of places,” Rebels coach Brian Kuester said. “You can’t substitute for speed. When you have speed, you can overcome some mistakes and make some plays that others can’t.”

Ernie Duncan left off Indiana All-Star team

No one works harder than Harrison’s Ernie Duncan, who started at the point for the Warriors from the first game of his freshman year. His hard work was rewarded as he was named an Indiana South member of the 18-member Junior All-Stars last year.

But Duncan was left off the 13-member Indiana All-Star senior team announced on Thursday.

In fact, no area player was named to the boys’ team. It’s a shame, but not surprising. Once again, the rest of the state forgets that Southwestern Indiana exists, unless your last name is Zeller.

Bosse’s Perry Fairrow emerged as the state’s fifth-leading scorer with a 26.6 average, but played in the shadow of JaQuan Lyle earlier in his career.

Memorial’s Adam Eberhard is an Indiana South Junior star. Here’s hoping he will meet a better fate next year than Duncan did this season.

Duncan was named to the Associated Press all-state third team on Wednesday. Fairrow and Eberhard received high honorable mention.

While I’m on my soapbox, just wanted to pass along that it’s a travesty that Princeton sophomore Jackie Young only received high honorable mention on the AP girls’ team. She’s already been offered a scholarship by Notre Dame, for crying out loud, and she can’t even be named third team all-state? Good grief, Charlie Brown.

–Gordon Engelhardt

Area basketball tidbits

It’s supposedly spring sports season, but basketball never quite ceases in Indiana.

Today, there were three notable developments regarding local and state high school hoops. Here’s the rundown:

— Kentucky-bound Trey Lyles of Indianapolis Tech was named Mr. Basketball. The 6-foot-10 forward averaged 23.7 points, 12.9 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2.4 blocks and shot 58 percent from the floor during his senior season. He received 117 Mr. Basketball votes, followed by Park Tudor’s Trevon Bluiett (108) and Marion’s James Blackmon Jr. (95).

The full story on Lyles from the Indianapolis Star can be found here.

— Revised rosters for the 26th annual North-South All-Star Classic were released. The girls and boys games, which will feature some of the state’s top senior players, will take place at Vincennes University on Saturday at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. CDT, respectively.

Local girls competitors (who will all play on the south squad) include: Mater Dei’s Maura Muensterman, North Knox’s Maria Gugliotta, Washington’s Ally Hunsinger and Vincennes Rivet’s Bailey Dreiman and Lauren Herman.

Ms. Basketball Whitney Jennings of Logansport will play on the north squad. Here is the full press release with complete rosters for both sides.

— Mater Dei’s Steve Goans and Washington’s Gretchen Miles were named the District 3 girls’ basketball coaches of the year by the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association.

Goans led Mater Dei to a 26-2 record and a runner-up finish in Class 3A. Miles led Washington to a 17-4 mark.

Lyle knocks down game-winner in national HS tourney

Thursday afternoon, former Bosse High School boys’ basketball standout JaQuan Lyle drained a game-winning 3-pointer on national television, giving his fifth-ranked Huntington Prep (W.Va.) squad a 65-63 victory over No. 6 La Lumiere (Ind.) in the quarterfinals of the Dick’s Sporting Good High School National Tournament.

Huntington advanced to the semifinal round, where it will play on ESPN2 Friday at 3:30 p.m. Central Time.

The senior also provided a go-ahead assist for a dunk to Thomas Bryant with 29 seconds remaining before La Lumiere went back ahead with a 3-pointer, setting the stage for his final shot. Lyle finished with 11 points, four rebounds and six assists — the type of balanced stat line that is typical for the 6-foot-5 combo guard.

Before Lyle’s brilliant final stretch, the Oregon commit didn’t look much different from anyone else on the court, which is precisely why Lyle’s decision to play his final high school season at a prep school shouldn’t be frowned upon locally.

I’ve seen some comments on our website and heard grumblings that Lyle should’ve never left Bosse, where he was a star who led the Bulldogs to the regional tournament each year. While the high school basketball in the area is solid, one can’t blame a kid for choosing to play with and against other Division I recruits in an environment more structured than the AAU circuit.

Huntington Prep plays a competitive, national schedule and Lyle also told me being away from home for a season has helped prepare him for his journey to the West Coast next this fall.

As for Lyle’s game, all the tools are there for success at the Division I level. He has great size and strength for a guard, and possesses natural play-making skills.

Paul Biancardi, ESPN.com’s director of basketball recruiting who was calling Thursday’s game on ESPNU, weighed in on Lyle’s skill set:

“He’s inconsistent right now, he’s out of shape, but he has great instincts for the game. He sees the floor well but at times he can get sloppy. When he can get in shape, he can be a really good player in the Pac-12.”

Of course, another reason top prospects go to prep school is to get their academics in order. Lumecha Garrett, Lyle’s mother, told the Courier & Press on March 19 that he plans to take the SAT in April in order to earn a qualifying score.