In Play with Tom Markowski


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Experiment with two, 16-minute halves greeted with mix reviews

By: Tom Markowski, February 14, 2016, 4:22 pm

The Michigan High School Athletic Association has asked basketball coaches this season to experiment to the uses of 16-minute halves in place of two, eight-minute quarters. After which the coaches are to voice their opinions whether they like or dislike it.

It’s not mandatory but many coaches have already opted to try it. If coaches decide to try it they are asked to contact the MHSAA first.

Teams are allowed two experimental games this season and should a coach decide to go to a 16-minute half both teams would receive an additional 30-second timeout.

State Champs spoke with three coaches in regards to this and all three coaches have college coaching experience, thus they have experience coaching with the two-half system.

The consensus is lukewarm at best.

Lamonta Stone, the boys varsity coach at River Rouge, said he might try it this Saturday when his Panthers host Saginaw Arthur Hill. If he does Stone must first contact the MHSAA to receive the approval.

“We haven’t done it yet,” he said. “I don’t mind being used as a guinea pig.”

Stone, who was an assistant at Ohio State and Bowling Green before returning to River Rouge, said he doesn’t know if this change would have any significant affect. Stone said in college coaches benefit from media timeouts four times each half. This allows coaches to rest their starters at certain times during the game.

“Maybe they’re trying help kids who go to college get used to this rule,” he said.

That seems to be a stretch. All the same, it’s not certain what benefits this change would bring. One has to wonder is it a change just for change sakes.

Under the current system teams often would hold the ball for the last shot in the final 30 seconds of each of the first three quarters. Sixteen-minute halves would eliminate two such situations.

It could affect the flow of a game. For instance, let’s say one team has gained the momentum and the first or third quarter is nearing the end. The end of the quarter would stop play and, perhaps, stop that team’s momentum.

Detroit Cass Tech boys coach Steve Hall played in the Detroit Public School League (Cass Tech), coached in the PSL (Detroit Rogers, Detroit Northwestern) before going to Duquesne and Youngstown State as an assistant. He came back to the PSL this season.

Hall said he’s uncertain why the change would even be introduced.

“I’m trying to understand it,” he said. “Where are (the MHSAA) going with it? It’s still 32 minutes. My only response is, it’s still the same amount of time. I’m indifferent. (But) I’m not sure I would be opposed to it.”

East Lansing boys coach Steve Finamore, who was the head coach at Jackson community College for four seasons, is opposed.

“I don’t like it,” he said. “We have a strategy, a goal. We break it down to four mini games. Let’s win these eight minutes.

“They’re trying to get more like college. I like closing out quarters with momentum. You go into the fourth quarter with momentum by making a basket (at the end of the third).”

It is only an experiment.

Perhaps next season the MHSAA will experiment with a 22-game regular season instead of the current 20-game maximum for the regular season. Stone said he’d like to see that.

“Ohio went to 22 games when I was there,” he said.


Top players reach new heights


Brandon Johns of East Lansing had a career-high 36 points last Friday at East Lansing defeated Lansing Sexton, 72-46.

East Lansing is 14-0 and Ranked No. 3 in Class A.

Johns is 6-8 and the top-ranked sophomore according to State Champs. Johns also had 12 rebounds in that game and is averaging 20.1 points.

Kysre Gondrezick of Benton Harbor, one of the leading candidates for Miss Basketball, had 52 points, 12 rebounds and five steals in a 65-58 loss to St. Joseph last Friday. Gondrezick now has 2,590 points, placing her fifth on the all-time list.

Lexi Gussert of Crystal Falls Forest Park is fourth on the list with 2,630. Gussert was named Miss Basketball in 2014.

Benton Harbor is 7-9 this season and Gondrezick might have just five games left in her high school career. Benton Harbor opens with Buchanan (12-2) in the first round of the Class B district at Dowagiac on Feb. 29.

Gondrezick, a 5-10 guard who signed with Michigan, has scored 608 points this season and is averaging 40.5.