IHSA adds shot clock starting in 2026-27 season; Willowbrook to host first girls flag football state tourney

The IHSA Board of Directors approved two recommendations brought forth by the IHSA Basketball advisory committee during its meeting Monday.

A 35-second shot clock will be required for usage in varsity girls and boys basketball games beginning with the 2026-27 school year. Use of the shot clock for lower-level contests will be determined by conferences and via mutual agreement by competing teams in non-conference games.

“The IHSA has allowed the shot clock to be used in tournaments and shootouts the past two seasons, and the overwhelming feedback we have received from coaches is that it is time to embrace the shot clock in all varsity contests,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. “We believe the two-season lead time will provide our schools with ample opportunity to install the shot clocks and get comfortable with them from both a coaching and game administration perspective.”

Additionally, the committee recommended a new state final time schedule that will ensure a two-day experience for all participating teams.

“It’s been fairly unanimous in the Illinois high school basketball community that moving the state tournament to a single-weekend format has been a success,” said Anderson. “Our coaches believe this new schedule will provide an even better experience for all the student-athletes, coaches, and fans. We look forward to seeing it play out when we celebrate America’s Original March Madness next winter.”

A quick sampling from area coaches seemed mostly positive with the news.

“It creates more opportunities for strategy to take place,” Burlington Central boys coach Brett Porto said. “Teams, players, and coaches will have to make many more decisions within each possession of the game especially as the shot clock expires. Hopefully it helps to continue to improve the game. I am looking forward to it.”

“I am pretty settled with it either way really,” Barrington girls coach Babbi Barreiro said. “I love high school basketball as it exists today. It is exciting and pretty pure overall. I like the discipline offenses as they search for the best shot for their team. This shot clock shift will change that and force teams into a little more fast paced action and I am all for that too. It is really the next in the continued evolution of the high school game which will only better prepare our college prospects for that level.”

Stevenson boys coach Will Benson said he also likes the shot clock but isn’t sure how much of a change it will bring.

“I think it's great and appropriate for our game,” Benson said. “I've coached in a few tournaments with the shot clock and it really hasn't affected how we play one way or the other. When I was scouting last year at the Hinsdale Central Holiday Classic, I was watching a team run a set that had several different options, then looked at the shot clock, and there was still 20 seconds left and I thought to myself that 35 seconds is really a lot longer than it sounds. So I really don’t think it's going to change a lot for most teams.”

The IHSA Board of Directors met for its regularly scheduled meeting at the IHSA office in Bloomington on June 10.

Girls flag football

In other news, Willowbrook will serve as the host of the inaugural IHSA girls flag football state finals in the fall of 2024.

The three-year hosting contract will debut on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 18-19, and then return to Willowbrook High School for the 2025 and 2026 state finals.

“The Willowbrook High School team, coaching staff, and administration have been a model program in girls flag football in the state, so it seems fitting that they will serve as the host of the inaugural state finals,” said Anderson. “We appreciate their passion for the sport and are excited to work together to create lifelong memories for our participating schools.”

In February, the IHSA announced at Halas Hall in Lake Forest that girls flag football would become the 32nd sport to contest an IHSA state series.

“As one of the pioneers of girls flag football in Illinois, we are thrilled to host the first IHSA state championship at Willowbrook High School,” said Rachel Karos, Willowbrook girls flag football coach. “We are proud to be part of growing girls flag football in Illinois, throughout the U.S. and internationally. Through the support of the IHSA and the Chicago Bears, girls flag football creates tremendous opportunities for a diverse group of students – including engaging them with athletics, providing once-in-a-lifetime experiences and connecting them to scholarships. The inaugural IHSA state championship will be a historic event to continue to drive the sport forward and inspire the next generation. We are excited to provide an experience that promotes inclusion, access, diversity and equity for female athletes in Illinois.”

Prior to the IHSA starting a state series, the Chicago Bears hosted a girls flag football state championship tournament, which Willowbrook won in 2022.

State bass fishing

The IHSA bass fishing state finals will be contested at Lake Shelbyville in Shelbyville beginning in 2025. The host bid was prepared and supported by Shelbyville High School, the city of Shelbyville, Lake Shelbyville, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers who oversee Lake Shelbyville, and several local community chambers of commerce.

The five-year hosting commitment will encompass the state finals in 2025, 2026, 2027, 2028, and 2029.

“We are excited to start a new chapter as the IHSA bass fishing state finals transition to Lake Shelbyville in 2025,” said Anderson. “We enjoyed our 15 years at Carlyle Lake and appreciate all that the Carlyle Lake staff and surrounding communities did to support the tourney and help it thrive. Lake Shelbyville is an equally worthy lake and we look forward to providing a first-class experience to our anglers there. We also need to thank the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who oversee both Lake Shelbyville and Carlyle Lake, as their efforts to prepare and keep our students safe make them vital to the state tournament experience.”

The IHSA became the first high school state association in the country to hold a high school bass fishing state championship when the inaugural state finals were held in 2009 at Lake Carlyle.

“We are thrilled that Lake Shelbyville has been selected as the future host,” said Shelbyville mayor Jeff Johnson. “Bass fishing is such a wonderful activity for our high school youth and an honor for all the participants. We look forward to working together to make it an exciting event for everyone.”

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.