Utah high school basketball now using 35-second shot clock; new ‘mercy rule’ also in effect

CEDAR CITY — As many fans may have already noticed, there are a couple of important clock-related differences in high school basketball games starting this season.

High school basketball referee holds ball during a timeout, Cedar City, Utah, Dec. 8, 2022 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

Although shot clocks have long been a familiar sight at professional and collegiate games, they haven’t been used at the high school level in Utah – until now.

Starting with the 2022-23 season, the Utah High School Activities Association has adopted a 35-second shot clock for both boys’ and girls’ basketball.

Essentially, it means the team with the ball must attempt a shot before the 35-second time limit expires or else a violation is called and possession is awarded to the other team.

If the ball hits the rim on a missed attempt, the shot clock is reset, regardless of which team secures the rebound. To read the full National Federation of State High School Association (NFHS) shot clock rules, as adopted by the UHSAA, click here.

‘Mercy rule’ speeds up lopsided games

The second time management change that’s new this season is the implementation of a “mercy rule” designed to hasten the end of blowout games. If a team is ahead by 35 points or more at the start of the fourth quarter or anytime thereafter, it triggers a running clock for the remainder of the game.

Once the running clock is activated, it can only be stopped when either team calls a timeout or for fouls involving free throws. Even if the losing team manages to narrow the deficit to fewer than 35 points, it doesn’t change the status of the running clock. Also, the shot clock continues to be operated normally even while the mercy rule is in effect.

Ridgeline lead prompts running clock

Cedar High School’s girls basketball team experienced the mercy rule during its first home game of the season Thursday night as hot-shooting Ridgeline outscored the Reds 44-12 in the first half, then extended that lead to 61-23 by the end of the third quarter.

That 38-point lead activated the running clock for the final eight minutes, with Ridgeline outscoring Cedar 10-8 during the fourth period to finish with a 40-point victory, 71-31.

Emilee Skinner and Macie Brown led the Riverhawks with 15 points apiece. Annalyse Shimada was Cedar’s top scorer with 10 points.

Cedar dropped to 0-2 with the loss. The Reds host Sky View on Friday at 7 p.m. and Bear River on Saturday at 1 p.m.

Meanwhile, Ridgeline, which improved to 3-0 with the win at Cedar, next plays at Hurricane on Friday at 7 p.m., then at Snow Canyon on Saturday at 1 p.m.

Cedar High basketball player Kiara Hansen’s wrecked car is towed after it was reportedly hit by another vehicle, Cedar City, Utah, Dec. 8, 2022 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

Cedar player involved in crash

Cedar center Kiara Hansen scored four points, despite having been involved in a traffic accident on her way back to the school for the pregame shootaround just after 3 p.m.

Cedar City Police Sgt. Tim Bonzo said Hansen was driving southbound along 300 West and was passing through the intersection at 200 North on a green light when her Hyundai Sonata was struck on its front end by a westbound Hyundai Tucson whose driver ran the red light, according to witnesses.

Hansen was not injured in the crash; the two occupants of the other vehicle declined to go to the hospital via ambulance, although they did reportedly go in a private vehicle to be evaluated.

Bonzo told Cedar City News that a citation was likely to be issued, pending further investigation.

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