It sometimes seems as if everybody in New Jersey is on the clock.

Everybody except high school basketball players.

New Jersey high school players can waltz up the court and take as much time as they need to shoot.

But most coaches, players and officials involved in high school basketball today would welcome a shot clock.

“I’m in favor of it,” Atlantic City High School boys basketball coach Gene Allen said. “It would prepare the players better for college, and there would be a better flow to the game. You’d see a little more scoring, a little more openness. From a flow-of-the-game standpoint, it’s time.”

The shot clock is used to quicken the pace of the game. The NBA first instituted its 24-second clock in 1954. College basketball uses a 30-second clock. Women’s college basketball adopted the clock in 1970-71, while men first used it in 1985-86.

Eight states — New York, California, Maryland, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Washington — use shot clocks of either 30 or 35 seconds for high school boys and girls basketball.

The National Federation of State High School Associations does not mandate a shot clock. Although it is discussed in New Jersey high school basketball circles, there is no official movement to implement a shot clock. Any proposal would have to be made by a member school of the New Jersey Interscholastic Athletic Association, which governs most high school sports in the state.

Without a shot clock, teams with lesser talent often slow the pace of the game. Teams with leads often try to stall away the last minutes of a game. But this is easier said than done. Most teams aren’t talented enough to retain possession of the ball for more than 30 seconds without committing a turnover.

“It (stalling) mucks the game up,” South Jersey referee Steve Selby said.

Most players would embrace a faster pace.

“I like to play fast,” Wildwood Catholic junior guard Jahlil White said. “I hate teams that try to slow it down. I like teams that push the ball.”

The biggest obstacle to a shot clock is cost.

The initial cost to install shot clock is estimated to be anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000. In these times, when just about every expenditure on nearly every school budget is scrutinized, that can be a lot to ask.

Also, an employee or volunteer would have to operate the clock during games.

“You have to buy it,” Holy Spirit athletic director Steve Normane said. “You have to install it. You have to train the guy who is doing it. If it was mandatory, it would be a budget issue and training issue.”

But those obstacles can be overcome. Normane said schools would have to be given time to budget for it.

“From the basketball side of it,” Normane said, “nobody likes it at the end of the game when somebody takes the air out of the ball. I think everybody would be in favor of it basketball-wise.”

Selbey said the clock wouldn’t be a problem for referees to enforce.

“It’s just a matter of training and repetition,” he said. “Guys will get used to it quickly.”

The shot clock also would be better for coaches. They would have to teach quick-hitting plays to be used when the shot clock dipped below 10 seconds.

“People say, ‘Shot clock, shot clock. You’re just going to run and gun,’” Selby said. “There (are) a lot more schemes from coaches.”

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Staff Writer

I've covered high school sports and variety of other events and teams - including the ShopRite LPGA Classic and the Phillies - since 1993.

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