Changes made to keep scores from getting too lopsided

Sumner High trailed the powerful Lakes Lancers 63-0 at halftime and ended up losing 83-0 in a 2008 South Puget Sound League 3A varsity football game.But a rule change approved by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association’s Rep Assembly may keep teams from losing by such lopsided margins.

By Dannie Oliveaux

Sumner High trailed the powerful Lakes Lancers 63-0 at halftime and ended up losing 83-0 in a 2008 South Puget Sound League 3A varsity football game.

But a rule change approved by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association’s Rep Assembly may keep teams from losing by such lopsided margins.

In April, the Rep Assembly voted to use a “running clock” in all regular season and playoff games with a scoring margin of 45 points or more at halftime.

Sumner School District Athletic Director Tim Thomsen said he’s not sure the new rule would have made a difference in the Spartans’ case.

“That was a situation where they did everything right and we couldn’t execute,” Thomsen said. “On that night there was a huge difference in execution, so I’m not sure the new rule would have changed the score much.”

One negative to the rule change, Thomsen said, is that there may not be as much time for second or third-string players to get on the field and gain playing experience.

Thomsen added he believes it is a good rule change and the Class B-8 schools have used it for many years.

Another major rule change is in boys basketball. The Rep Assembly voted 42-11 to adopt a shot clock.

Washington is the seventh state to use a shot clock in boys basketball.

The 35-second shot clock is used in men’s college basketball.

Thomsen, the South Puget Sound League basketball commissioner and a voting member of the Rep Assembly, said he polled of the SPSL 3A coaches and they all supported the shot clock provision.

“Their feeling is that the shot clock will actually help the defense more on a full-court press, so it takes longer to get the ball into the halfcourt,” Thomsen said. “Then extend your defense and cover the passing lanes, so it takes them longer to get into the half-court offense and before you know it they have to force a bad shot to beat the shot clock.”

Brett McDaniel, the Sumner High boys basketball coach, said the shot clock will impact both players and coaches.

“I think it will have a real impact on styles of coaching and play,” he said. “You will see some teams look to zone press and zone in the half court in an attempt to make teams spend precious seconds just handling the pressure, thus forcing teams to shoot more perimeter shots.

“Other coaches will look to speed up the game and look to create more shot opportunities for their teams taking advantage of the clock that way,” McDaniel said.

He added some coaches think it will change the game and take away an underdogs’ ability to upset a better team by running a four-corner offense.

“You can argue both sides, but the fact is the game has changed over the past 20 years and coaches need to allow the game to move into the 21st century as well,” McDaniel said. “It should be a lot of fun for the fans and will allow the players to really determine the outcome.”

During the Rep Assembly meeting in Renton, no decisions were made on the format of the state basketball tournament. Washington is the only state to have a 16-team, double-elimination state basketball tournament.

The WIAA’s executive board will meet in July to review formats and criteria of the state tournaments in all sports.

The Rep Assembly voted down an amendment for a running clock if a 40-point differential is reached in basketball.

In other action, the Rep Assembly:

• rejected an amendment to make girls lacrosse a sanctioned varsity sport.

• approved an to appoint a fact finder to investigate alleged violations.

• refused an amendment for grades 9-11 to be used for enrollment counts.

• withdrew a motion to combine the 1B and 2B classifications into single Class B.

• allowed a motion to die that would have placed private schools with enrollments between 50 and 300 students into a “private school” classification.

• agreed that stunt certification be required for dance/drill coaches whose squads perform stunts.

All rule changes take effect in 2009-2010 season.

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