Stall Ball

It’s the time in high school basketball games that most fans dreads with a passion — the end of the first three quarters. It’s one thing when teams tediously pass the ball around for two minutes in an effort to milk every last second from the frame, but it’s another when a player literally just holds still for a small eternity. In the girls regional championship game at Prairie Ridge Thursday, a Cary-Grove guard took a pass with under a minute to go in the first quarter and did not move until there were seven seconds on the clock. She did not pass, pass-fake, dribble or jab-step even once. All she did was blink for nearly 45 seconds. As expected, the inactivity did not sit well with fans who screamed in protest. I never understood either until I covered the Palatine boys team a couple years back. One evening, an inexperienced Pirate missed a quick shot at the end of a quarter, leading to a basket for the opposition at the buzzer. After watching long-time Palatine coach Ed Molitor quickly pull the kid aside, I realized that the other team doesn’t get those two points if the Pirates hold the ball. As painful as it is to watch for fans, the stall tactic remains a wise strategy until the IHSA adopts a play clock.

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