WASECA, Minn.—Going into its section quarterfinal game against the Waseca Bluejays (24-4), the Marshall Tigers (18-9) girls basketball team deployed a unique strategy: keep the ball out of Jays hands as long as possible. In the end, their strategy yielded them only four points, and a 17-4 loss, ending their season.
"I didn't expect that," said Joan Conway, head coach of the Jays, in a Waseca County News story. "I knew it could happen, but there’s never a time that you think a team will hold the ball when they’re down points."
Trailing 9-0 with 12 seconds to go the first half, the Tigers would finally get their first basket of the night, and went into the locker room at half trailing the Jays 9-2.
A video posted on Twitter by a Waseca fan showed a second-half possession in which the Tigers held the ball for over three minutes, all while trailing at the time 9-2. In the video, a Tigers player can be seen holding the ball at her side just beyond the half-court line, stagnant as a statue. Meanwhile, the Jays student section is seen in the background swaying their arms back and forth while cheering. A basketball would not be bounced for over three minutes.
Eventually, with about six minutes to go and the Tigers still trailing 9-2, the Tigers began pushing the action. Trying to force the ball inside, Jays junior Madison Gehloff stole the pass, ran down the court, and scored, making the score 11-2 Jays. With only seconds remaining in the game, Marshall's only scorer, senior center Hannah Meier, scored her second bucket of the night.
The final score: Waseca 17, Marshall 4.
This strategy, which, in this case, ultimately proved to be ineffective, was made possible due to the fact that the Minnesota State High School League has yet to implement shot clocks. But when it comes to not implementing shot clocks nationwide, the MSHSL is not in the minority.
Currently, only eight states in the country have implemented the use of shot clocks into its high school basketball games. Those states are California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, Washington, North Dakota and South Dakota.
A 35-second shot clock was approved by the North Dakota High School Activities Association board of directors in 1996 for Class A boys basketball. A 30-second clock was instituted for Class A girls games in 2001.
During the 2011-12 season, shot clocks were used for the first time in both Class A and B boys and girls basketball. Class A boys were given a 35-second shot clock, while Class A girls received a 30-second shot clock. For Class B, both boys and girls are allowed a 35-second shot clock.
For the Bluejays, this wasn't the first time they've seen this strategy being used in a game.
When two Bluejays players were asked simultaneously if they'd ever been involved in a game like that, "absolutely," they responded. "Only it was us against Fairmont last year."
The Bluejays went on to win that game 31-21, holding the ball for extended periods of time after securing a lead.
Perhaps one of the most odd high school basketball games to ever take place happened just over 25 years ago in southwestern North Dakota.
On Feb. 27, 1992, a North Dakota high school district basketball game made international headlines when the winning team, Hettinger, scored just four points and won the game. Not a shot clock in sight.
The final score: Hettinger 4, Regent 2.