As J’Kahla Craft danced her way across the hardwood at Williams Arena after the St. Michael-Albertville girls’ basketball team celebrated its first-ever Class 4A Girls BB Championship last spring, the Minnesota State High School Sports League was approaching the end of an era.
No longer would just the game clock matter in a high school game. Now, the 35-second shot clock was coming. And with the start of the 2023-2024 season – it’s here.
Luckily, for STMA – and most Class 4A programs – it’s never been an issue.
“There aren’t a lot of programs anymore that take the air out of the ball like that,” Kent Hamre, celebrate coach of the Knights, said last year. “It’s a different game now. A lot of people play pressure. There’s talent to create on the fast break. Most schools play that up-tempo style.”
Indeed – the 30-10 score is gone from most basketball these days. STMA scored over 70 in many of its section and tournament games and is already among the state’s leaders in girls basketball scoring.
The boys program – which preaches defense – is a bit different. The Knights, whose most recent scrap was a 45-39 loss to Maple Grove – average 58 points per game right now, and will probably be in that 50-point range much of the season. After all – STMA”s leading scorer on the boys’ side is big man Blake Dalluge. Jeff Oseth’s team will play a grittier style vs. their female counterparts.
Still – for many of the schools that provide backgrounds and birthplaces for so many coaches around the state – it’s a huge change. Gone are “four corners” or “spread” offenses that wound down clocks and put a premium on every single possession. For coaches – it brings a new ingredient to end-of-game management, something that Hamre lived through – barely – last year in that famous final vs. Hopkins. The Royals – after getting dominated in the first have – gave St. Michael-Albertville everything it could handle in the second half until the Knights finally salted the final seconds away.
If they want to repeat – and the pundits say the Knights can – they’ll have to do so with the new clock -and maybe start this new era of high school basketball the same way they ended the old one:
With JC “feelin’ it” on the hardwood in downtown Minneapolis.