Sports Zone

Shot clock, free-throw rules add new wrinkles in Oregon

OREGON – Two new in-game rules that will shake up prep sports are debuting this season for Oregon high school basketball teams. Each season the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), an organization that the Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA) gets its rulebooks from, makes minor rule changes and points of emphasis for a season. This season, two big rule changes are coming to Oregon – the debut of a 35-second shot clock, and a change in how the bonus works each quarter.

“I’m looking forward to the strategic aspect of the addition of a shot clock. How coaches adjust, how schemes adjust, and the situational adjustments in-game,” said Blaine Liberatore, Thurston boys coach. “I’ve been an advocate for a shot clock for a long time, so I’m excited to evolve the game here in Oregon.”

Oregon becomes the 12th state in the U.S. to adopt the 35-second shot clock in high school basketball, something that will put pressure on offenses who hold onto the ball late into the clock, though it may not affect many teams on a possession-to-possession basis.

“It will create some cool new opportunities to be creative defensively to try to slow teams down to a sub 10-second panic,” said Creswell boys coach Jesse Thomas. “Overall I don’t think it will have too much of an effect for most teams.”

Thurston girls coach Kevin Durfee noted that only time will tell how the shot clock affects games, but that there “should be a better flow to the game” because of the new rule.

A lack of flow to a game heavily affected an area team over a decade ago, and sparked conversations at the time for bringing in the shot clock. 

Two-time Gatorade Player of the Year Mercedes Russell led the Springfield Millers into the Class 5A girls state championship game against Willamette in 2012. The Millers were heavy favorites, so Willamette held onto the ball for as long as possible each possession, including a second-quarter possession that lasted 7 minutes and 54 seconds.

Springfield led 4-0 at half, 7-1 at the end of the third quarter, and won 16-7 in the lowest-scoring championship final in the history of Oregon high school basketball at any level. The full game can be viewed at:

The other major rule change implemented this season changes how the bonus works in high school basketball, aligning prep sports closer with the NBA. Previously, for a team to get bonus free throws, their opponent needed to foul them seven times in a half for 1-and-1, or 10 times for double bonus (two free throws). 

The new rule, however, “Eliminates the one-and-one for common fouls beginning with the seventh team foul in the half and establishes the bonus as two free throws awarded for a common foul beginning with the team’s fifth foul in each quarter and resets the fouls at the end of each quarter.”

The rationale for the rule states that this will reward teams who correct their foul issues between quarters, instead of first-quarter foul mistakes carrying into the second quarter. Cottage Grove girls coach Pete LeMay said that “taking away the 1-and-1 free throws will change how coaches game plan end-of-game situations,” and Thomas said the new foul rule will have a bigger impact than the shot clock.

“The new free-throw bonus rules will be interesting and could alter things more so than the shot clock,” Thomas said. “The reset on team fouls every quarter changes things up late game for sure.”



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