MHSA Approves Baseball, Shot Clock

At its annual meeting MHSA members overwhelmingly vote to sanction baseball as a high school sport and add a shot clock to basketball

By 406mtsports.com
The Glacier Twins practice at Memorial Field in Whitefish on June 19, 2019. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

There are big changes coming to Montana high school sports and they were finalized Monday at the Montana High School Association’s annual meeting in Butte.

Representatives from high schools all across Montana met in person at the Copper King Hotel in Butte to discuss and vote on a number of issues. The two proposals that drew the most attention were baseball and a shot clock for high school basketball.

Since neither was an MHSA by-law, both proposals required a simple majority and each passed in overwhelming fashion Monday. 

For years, fans, players and coaches of Montana high school basketball have wanted a shot clock but it wasn’t adopted by the NFHS until 2021. That opened the door for this proposal and starting in the 2022-23 season, all varsity and sub-varsity games will have a 35-second shot clock.

“A shot clock will continue to improve the quality of the game and is a long time coming,” Helena Capital girls head coach Katie Garcin-Forba said Monday. “The game has continued to evolve and it’s time. It will also help prepare players wanting to play in college with a shot clock. Research showed the impact to the pace of the game won’t be significant but I truly believe the quality of basketball will improve because of it.”

The language of the proposal notes: “Upon approval, schools would begin installation of shot clocks following the 2021-2022 basketball season. This would allow for training and implementation to occur during the June-July summer basketball tournaments and games. This would enable teams to work with the shot clock, teams to grow familiar and comfortable with the concept and allow for any changes that needed to be made to happen well before the high school season begins in 2022.”

So at the end of the current season, the installation of shot clocks will begin and the era of the stalling, as a basketball strategy, will come to an end. 

The other big development at Monday’s annual meeting of member schools was the addition of baseball as an MHSA sanctioned sport.

A year ago, there was a vote to form a committee to study baseball as a high school sport in Montana and with overwhelming support, it was officially adopted. The next step will be up to individual school boards to determine if they wish to field a high school baseball program or not. 

While there was also some discussion on changing transfer rules a number of proposals on the subject were withdrawn.

However, there was one significant change to the MHSA by-laws, which will now allow eighth-graders to compete in all varsity sports outside of football. The measure, which needed a 2/3 majority to pass, did so with 109 votes.