DON KETCHUM is a native of Phoenix. He was a sportswriter for The Arizona Republic/The Phoenix Gazette for nearly four decades. He covered high school sports on several occasions as well as the Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona Cardinals and Arizona State sports. From 2008-14, he was a staff writer for, the web site of the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

Friday, November 18, 2022

Tick, tick, tick . . . 35-second clock is here for hoops



That is the number that should be foremost in everyone’s mind in the 2022-23 basketball season after the Arizona Interscholastic Association approved the usage of the 35-second shot clock, with the blessing of the National Federation of High Schools.

The idea serves as a deterrent for teams wanting to slow the pace of play to a crawl to stay close in a game as well as help in getting teams that are more offense-minded to start tapping the accelerator a little more often.

For some teams, it will take some getting used to. For others such as Xavier Prep’s Gators, the team already employs pressure defense, which has led to many turnovers over the last few years created by head coach Jennifer Gillom’s teams.

The 35-second clock only will be used at the varsity level to begin with, not just at Xavier but at all schools. There are plans to adopt the device at the junior-varsity and freshman levels, but getting enough people to operate the clock at the scorer’s table and monitor everything from an official’s perspective will be a challenge at first.

The possession arrow is not easy to keep track of under normal circumstances at the table, but under this new mandate, the 35-second clock has the possibility of being like the arrow on steroids by comparison with the ball potentially changing hands so many times.

Eventually, it is hoped that all involved will get used to it, as with most everything else.

Xavier coach Jennifer Gillom always has been a proponent of pressure defense, and already has been putting her players through the paces in preseason practice and on occasion in games.

“Being more aggressive with rebounding and getting those steals,’’ she said. “Our girls know they can score – we need to stop the offense of the other teams.’’

Junior point guard Dominique Nesland said a faster pace on defense can help teams stay in shape.

“You want to get the ball up the floor, but not to where you run out of gas,’’ she said. “Playing really fast has not been a big deal for us.’’

Jasmine Olivar, a junior point guard, is one of the newest Gators, having moved over from the central Arizona Native American community of Fort Thomas. She has experienced “Rez Ball’’ pressure and speed mentality without the shot clock first-hand and knows what that can do for a full 32 minutes of a rapid heartbeat.

“Defense is really important,’’ Olivar said. “The more pressure we can put on the ball, the better.

“If we can continue to do this, keep it up, it can help achieve a dream come true for the team (state championship), and for Coach Gillom.’’

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