Ron Poniewasz Jr. COLUMN: High school basketball is no place for a stopwatch | Sports

Former Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills coach Marv Levy provided us with some great quotes and sound bites.

“When it’s too hard for them, it’s just for us”, is certainly one of his famous mantras.

Another famous quote occurred during a game the Bills were playing. Buffalo was famous for running a non-huddle version of the offense called “K Gun”, named after quarterback Jim Kelly, the orchestrator of the offense.

Before one of the plays, Levy is seen yelling into her headphones “hurry up, hurry up, hurry up. They better hurry up. It’s popular in crazy movies. If you watched or are a fan of NFL Films, you’ve definitely seen it more than once.

The past two years covering high school basketball in Pennsylvania have been absolutely unbearable with fans, media, anyone with an ounce of opinion clamoring for a shot clock.

Shut your mouth. Drop it. Go away. Far. And stay there.

While you’re at it, take your clock idea with you.

The shot clock idea is a terrible suggestion. It’s a hold-the-ball strategy. It’s not in the rulebook. A team found a way to win, or at least give them a chance. And now people are upset about it. “They understood the system. It’s time for a change.” Go away.

Just wanting a shot clock makes me wonder: have these people even ever thought about what the game would be like with a shot clock?

Enter Marv Levy. “Hurry up, hurry up, hurry up. They better hurry.

This will be a common theme with a firing clock. Hurry up. Bad basketball. Poor shot selection. Not every kid on a boy or girl roster is a Division I rookie, an up-and-coming NBA star, or even a playground superstar. They’re kids. Good teams won’t be affected too much, if at all. A bad team? Good luck with that.

You can check out any basketball roster in the area or nearby counties and count how many of them will go on to college basketball careers. Of course, some could play volleyball in college. It’s not basketball. Some might compete in track and field. It’s not basketball. Some might play baseball or softball in college. It’s not basketball. Some might play tennis in college. It’s not basketball.

Want a firing clock? Alright, maybe I’ll get more of what I love – a shutout. That’s right. Four quarter zeros. Quarterly scores of 0, 0, 0, 0, composite count of zero. It will be quite a compromise for me if a firing clock is introduced.

“This is terrible. Why would you want to see a shutout? Because I have a right, just like you have a right to want a stopwatch. We preach defense all the time, holding a team in check. Telling people how good a team’s defense is. If you can brag about a team’s points allowed stats, you’re allowed to celebrate a shutout. I do. After all, it’s part of how a team team awards such a small number of points.

What better way to hold a team in check than to do it for 32 minutes of zeros? I can’t think of a better way. Heck, every night during the regular season, I scan scores from states, not just Pennsylvania, for shutouts. It’s like playing the lottery when I find one. And people around me know when I find one. I celebrate it. It’s like finding money or hitting a bet.

Have you been to a high school football game recently? If so, was there a game clock in the end zones? Not all schools have game clocks in the end zones. Which is not mandatory. Sure, they make it nice when they wonder if a team has two seconds to get a play. Or four seconds. Instead of waiting for a referee’s hand to go up, signaling that there are five seconds left to end the game.

So, Skippy, now you’re asking a school for basketball gym timers. Sure. Because you’ve thought about it, more than the impromptu moans, moans, moans and stomachaches of “this is terrible to watch”. Don’t like the game? Don’t look at him. Do not go. Problem solved.

All you hear is “waahhhh, waahhhh, waahhhh. Shot clock, shot clock, shot clock. waahhhh, waahhhh, waahhhh. Shut up. But while you’re making your life miserable by wanting a shot clock, have you thought about how many seconds there would be on the shot clock? Of course not. You have time to complain and moan and moan about it. But you don’t have a single time thought about the time it would take for the stopwatch or the logistics of the schools that receive the stopwatches.

In every game I’ve watched this year via the stream, and ultimately had to cut them due to the insufferable complaints, or all the Twitter rants for a shot clock, nowhere, and I mean nowhere , did I find a suggestion of how long the shot clock should or would be.

I would say that 24 is too fast, they are children. How about 30? It’s the college timer. Nothing more than 30 and, really, what’s the point? If it’s 30, do the math. Eight-minute quarters. If you basically get possessions that use almost every 30 seconds, you know how many possessions you get. If the shot clock is over 30 seconds, then go. A team can always give you a two finger salute and dribble for almost a minute. And how far ahead would you be? We would be back to square one, which is the next crusade of crying and complaining until you get the rules exactly the way you want them. It’s not a Wiffle ball in the backyard, people, making up the rules as they go.

We are going to see changes in high school basketball in our region next year due to the realignment. Let’s save the shot clock for college and professional play.


Congratulations to Luann Grybowski, women’s basketball coach at Neshannock High, on winning her first state championship. And to his staff and players too. It is very well deserved. The Lady Lancers have worked incredibly hard and maintained that momentum since last season’s disappointing title game loss to Mount Carmel.

Grybowski will be your Class 2A Coach of the Year. It will be listed as such on my ballot. And if she doesn’t win the prize, it’s a travesty.

Neshannock is also expected to move to Class 3A for next season. The Lady Lancers have accumulated eight points in the competitive balance formula. This would likely form a section of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Laurel, Mohawk, Neshannock, Ellwood City, Beaver Falls, and Riverside.

“I just don’t think it’s fair,” Grybowski said of the possible move. “You rate me on these two years that we had. These children are gone. You make me progress and the younger ones have to pay the price. That does not make any sense. But they don’t ask anyone’s opinion.

And the big question everyone is asking with Grybowski is whether she will return for a 43rd season after winning her first state championship. She answered very categorically. And quickly.

“Absolutely. God willing, I intend to,” she said.

Great news from Grybowski and great news for county basketball fans.


Speaking of the state championship game, what about the trophy that was presented this year? No big ball of gold? What? Maybe the PIAA needs to start fundraising so they can have the beautiful trophy again. What about candy sales? Maybe car washes? This trophy – let’s be honest, it’s a glorified plaque – while it will be a great addition to the Neshannock Trophy showcase, just isn’t as exciting as it once was.


It’s time for the state basketball championships to leave Hershey. Big arena. Horrible crowds. And the campaign is rather in favor of schools in the East. And quite simply, these schools in the East don’t give a fuck and don’t go. Western schools care, as do their fans.

Move it more towards the middle of the state. It’s time. It’s high time to move it.

The PIAA also cleaned the building after every game this year. Apparently funds are tight for the PIAA. Again, can I suggest fundraisers? Car washes, candy sales, garage sales, anything. Maybe pass a hat for donations. Maybe someone is raising funds from the fans when they enter the arena. What a pathetic demonstration. The PIAA could do better. Boy, they could definitely do better.


It appears that the total number of fans to attend state basketball championship games was 15,553, an average of 1,296 fans over 12 total games.

Fantastic. Not really. What’s worse is that the PIAA cleans the arena after every game. Because we all know that the 15,553 fans are children or adults under the age of 25, with no health conditions, knee problems or other physical conditions preventing them from standing in one place for long periods of time. And we all know March weather in Pennsylvania is like Hawaii, right?

Opening the doors to the arena probably felt more like Black Friday at Macy’s. As soon as the doors opened, it was a mad rush to get to your seat in time for the tip. Who knows, maybe some people got to their seats before the first media timeout. Did you get your hot dog before halftime at least? If so, kudos to you. You beat the system. Kind of.

Who had this idea? And what kind of drink did they enjoy, and how much, imagining this idea? The common theme around the roundtable discussion probably went something like “I see your absolutely horrible decision and I’m raising you myself.”

(Poniewasz is the sports editor of New Castle News. Email him at [email protected])

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