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The Gazette KCRG
Posted November 28, 2010
Mercy rule in basketball now, too

The days of truly lopsided basketball scores should be gone now. Or at least diminished considerably.

The Iowa High School Athletic Association has adopted a 35-point rule similar to football. Here is the exact wording of the new rule:


Based on a recommendation from the Iowa Basketball Coaches Association and approval from the IHSAA Board of

Control, a 35-point differential rule is in effect for all games played in Iowa, grades 7-12. If there is a 35-point differential at the end of the first half or anytime after, the game will be continued with a running clock. Beginning with the ensuing possession when the 35-point differential becomes effective, the following changes, and only these changes, will be made regarding rules determining when the clock will and will not be stopped.

The clock will run continuously except for the following situations when it will be stopped:

(1) Anytime a time-out is charged to a team;

(2) Intermission between third and fourth quarter;

(3) Extended injury time-out;

(4) Anytime officials determine it is necessary for safety reasons.

Please keep in mind we play the first half to completion with regular timing. If the differential is 35 points or more at half-time or anytime there is a 35-point differential during the second half, the running clock procedures will be used.

If the score margin drops below 25 points, then normal timing will resume for the remainder of the game, or until the 35 point plateau is again reached.

7 Responses to Mercy rule in basketball now, too

  1. Should have included ‘no pressing’ in this rule too.

  2. There is no reason to have such a rule. Does losing by 38 points with a running clock reduce the “shame” one encounters as oppossed to losing by 50 (or more) without a runing clock? What analysis or research was done to come to this decision? Why not anaylize all the games and determine the deficit that no team has overcome. Let’s just say thats 31 points. If no team has ever over come a 31 point margin, just call the game once you reach that point. Why not adopt that rule?

    It makes just as much sense. At least to me. Classic example of over managing.

    So, since the kids get cheated out of game time (I’m talking about the bench players that kill themselves in practice, for moments like this), do the refs also get reduced rates for not having to ref an entire game?

    This is just dumb!

  3. LF, I agree with you to an extent. I think what the IHSAA is looking to prevent is scores like 72-11, 107-11 and 91-15. Those were all games played by Iowa Valley last season. There is a large gap in talent/numbers, etc. sometimes at the small-school level, which results in outrageous point spreads. That’s what I think the IHSAA wants to not have happen. And, remember, the Iowa coaches signed off on this (or perhaps even brought it up to the IHSAA).

  4. You don’t make rules for the few exceptions. If there is a huge difference it talent in certain small school conferences, then those coaches with the talent need to coach better. These comments are based on experience. I’ve been there. All you have to do is tell your team to score in the half court on set plays after everyone touches theh ball. Then you set up certain plays to try to get every player to score, again in the half court. You don’t fast break, you play D in the paint, and don’t pressure the ball outside the 3 point line. But you don’t agree to make rule changes because some coaches let their horses run the whole game. I’m sure they allow their bench to run as well. But making a rule, even though it may not come into play much, is just wrong. So now what is going to happen when the clock is running? My guess… the players will play even faster. Those bench players will definitely push the ball and run because they know the clock is running. So the the total point difference may change, but the style of play won’t. Come on coaches, get with it.

  5. I guess they didn’t get this rule right in Anamosa last night. The Pointers were ahead by 35 in the 2nd quarter and they started the continuous clock in the 2nd quarter.

  6. By the way, my opinion is that if we didn’t have so many coaches out there that think running up the score is appropriate then they wouldn’t have to do the policing for them. I coach a 6th grade team and watched many Varsity games last year, and it is amazing to see the amount of coaches that will continue to press with a huge lead or even tell their players to shoot the 3. It would be more appropriate to let your bench players get in there and compete with the other team and if the bench players continue to take it to them, slow down the offense and use the time to teach your kids the options that are available in the offense. If you press with a huge lead, then you simply are trying to run up the score. There is no other excuse for it, and you will probably get a comment from the other coach, which if you are the type to press, you won’t care anyway.

    Of course, I don’t think the continuous clock is necessarily a bad thing. I don’t think the players will feel like they have to play quicker as a previous poster mentions, but that is just my opinion.

  7. I do not like this rule. The kids need to be on the court for experience or they will never get better. Why travel two hours to have a continuous clock? Play the game as we have always played it. Lose by one or lose by 61. If you do not want to get behind by 35 then hit the gym and try to get better.

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