Last week, at a basketball tournament in Orlando, Florida, the Hoosac Valley girls were locked in a tight battle with Ohio state power Austintown Fitch.
Austintown took a seven-point lead with only a few minutes left. And the next time they had the ball, Fitch's stellar point guard Megan Sefcik began directing the team into a stall.
"I was kind of mentally prepared for it," said Hurricane coach Greg Wojcik. "They played the night before, and I took the girls to watch them. That night, they had a two-point lead with about three minutes to play and they went into a stall. It kind of blew my mind.
"I remember thinking that if they got the lead against us, that's what we'd see," continued Wojcik. "And that's what happened.
"With no shot clock, if you're down one possession, you have a chance to make a play on defense," he added. "But two or three possessions? You have no choice but to foul to get the ball back. That's what we did, and they made their foul shots."
"It was kind of weird, because we're so used to playing with a shot clock," said McKenzie Robinson, one of Wojcik's starters. "It's harder for us to play defense because they didn't have to shoot in 30 seconds."
Wojcik wasn't complaining; Austintown Fitch, the No. 7 ranked team in Ohio, was, he conceded, the better team. They beat the Hurricanes, 53-40.
But with a shot clock, Massachusetts teams aren't used to delay tactics.
The Commonwealth is also in the extreme minority. Only seven other states in the country use a shot clock of either 30 or 35 seconds.
That probably won't change anytime soon. Although there has clearly been an interest on the part of several states, the National Federation of State High School Associations voted down adding a shot clock to the game in 2011 and again in 2012.
Individual states, such as Massachusetts, can defy the organization. All it means is that representatives from dissenting states cannot be represented on the NFSHSA's rule committees.
The shot clock was first used in the NBA in 1954. Danny Biasone, owner of the Syracuse Nationals, proposed it prior to the season.
Biasone had good reason. The year before, the Nationals had been eliminated from the playoffs by the Boston Celtics in a tense four-overtime game.
Boston's Bob Cousy scored a then-playoff record 50 points, including hitting 30 of 32 from the free-throw line, still an NBA playoff mark.
But the Celtics' basic strategy, pre-shot clock, had been to begin every offensive possession in overtime by having Cousy dribble the basketball until he was fouled. Syracuse obliged. Again and again.
"It was a lousy game," said Celtic coach Red Auerbach after the game. "Very boring."
"Not very fun to play," recalled Cousy in a story about the game on NBA.com years later.
And Auerbach and Cousy had won the game.
Enter Biasone, who simply divided the number of minutes in an average NBA game by the number of shots taken. He came up with 24 seconds, still the standard in the NBA.
Women's colleges began using the 20-second shot clock in the 1970-71 season, with the NCAA men following in 1985-86 with a 45-second clock. The present 35-second clock for men was adopted in 1993-94.
Massachusetts adopted a high school shot clock for the 1998-99 season.
"It changed the way teams played," said Joe Racicot, presently the coach of the Pittsfield girls and formerly a guard with the powerful Taconic teams of the early 1970s, which played with no shot clock.
"Offensively, teams ran more plays when I was a player," he said. "We'd run something, and if we didn't get a shot, we'd run it again. Now, if a play breaks down, with a shot clock, you're starting to run out of time. So you have to have someone that can make something happen individually."
"It put a premium on players who could handle the ball, and make plays," said Al Skrocki, one of the great stars of county high school basketball in the 1960s who played for Adams High School. "We would run plays until we got a layup or at worse, a 15-foot shot. No question it was a more deliberate game.
"We still scored pretty well, in the high 60s or 70s," he said. "But that was because we pressed teams."
Defensively, said Racicot, "if we were playing a team that was of inferior caliber, they tended to try to take the air out of the ball a little. I don't think it was very fun to watch."
"I guess there are two schools of thought here," he said. "On one hand, no shot clock gives smaller teams a chance to at least keep the score down. On the other, from a fan standpoint, nobody is interested in seeing a team stall.
"I don't think it makes the game better," he said. "Let's face it: Nobody is interested in watching it."
"It's ugly basketball," said Hoosac boys coach Bill Robinson and McKenzie's father. "We condition our kids to play defense for 20 seconds on each possession. That's all you need to do. But if the other team can play ball reversal over and over, you have a problem. And the offense wins."
Wojcik remembered something else that happened just before the beginning of his team's game with Austinville Fitch.
"I went out to meet the refs and the Austinville coach," he said. "And a ref reminded me that there was no shot clock. And I kind of laughed and said, ‘Well, you won't have to worry about that with us!' But it got us in the end."
To reach Derek Gentile:
or (413) 496-6251.
On Twitter: @DerekGentile