The scene was indicative of changing times. In the final seconds of the tournament championship, the team trailing by two points had all five of its players at least 20 feet from the basket. Not wanting to get beat, the defense also positioned all of its players beyond the three-point line.
This was neither the seventh game of the National Basketball Assn. championship nor the final game of the NCAA Tournament, but rather, last season's Iowa high school championship.
College basketball's three-point shot caused an uproar among coaches before this season, but Iowa and North Dakota have used the rule at the high school level for five years. Eight states have a three-point shot and the National Federation of State High School Athletic Assns. has given permission for all states to award three points for shots beyond 19-9, measured from the center of the basket. The college distance is measured from the front of the rim.
In an informal poll of 25 Valley-area coaches, 68% said they would support a three-point shot. But it is unlikely that California will adopt the rule soon.
"We haven't had any sort of inquiry about it," said Stan Thomas, commissioner of the Southern Section. "Rule changes can be made in a year's time, but that would be something that would have to be studied thoroughly."
Said Kendall Webb, commissioner of the San Diego Section, "I wasn't aware that we had the option."
Although some Valley-area coaches believe the distance is too short for high school, most think that it would have a positive impact.
Many of the coaches who are against a three-point rule say that it contradicts basketball's most fundamental play--getting the ball inside.
"I think it stinks," Chatsworth Coach Gary Shair said. "I don't want to see anybody on my team shoot that far out."
Said North Hollywood Coach Steve Miller: "I don't think it should be used in the last three or four minutes of the game. I've seen too many college games lost by three-pointers at the end. A team can do everything right and still lose the game."
Said Alemany Coach Joe Anlauf: "Just from watching the colleges this year, I think it has really screwed up the game."
Iowa and North Dakota began using the three-point shot on an experimental basis five years ago. Wyoming instituted the rule three years ago and Idaho introduced it last season. After studying data and interviewing coaches in those states, the National Federation this season gave each state the option to use the rule.
The National Federation decided on a distance of 19-9 after examining statistics from state tournaments that used the shot. During the first three seasons with the rule, Iowa players shot 34% in the first three quarters and 32% in the fourth. The players made 42% of all shots.
Last season, NBA players made 28% of their attempts beyond the three-point line, which is between 22-0 and 23-9 from the basket depending on the area of the court. In college's Big Sky Conference and Pacific Coast Athletic Assn., each of which used a 19-9 line last year, players made 39% of their three-point attempts.
"We wanted to have it be a makeable shot that could be used throughout the game," said Dick Schindler, assistant director of the National Federation. "We didn't want it to require a superhuman effort or be used only as a gimmick."
Coaches and administrators in states that have a three-point shot contend that the rule has made high school basketball more exciting, as well as raising the level of play.
"We don't have a lot of big kids that can stuff the ball, so the three-pointer has put a lot of enthusiasm back into the game," said Bernie Saggau, director of the Iowa High School Basketball Assn. "A lot of our schools have only 150 kids and only 400 people in the whole town. They're getting 600 at their games."
Coaches also have started to incorporate the three-point shot into their offenses, running plays designed to free shooters for long-range jumpers.
High school teams average about 60 shots per game. If a team took all of its shots from three-point range and made 20, which would be in line with averages from the National Federation's study, it would score 60 points. To score that many from two-point range, a team would have to make 30 shots, 7% more than the average.
"It seems like it's being put into the offense more each year," said Jerry Meyer, coach at Jamestown High, which has finished second in North Dakota's state tournament each of the past two seasons. "A lot of teams that didn't rely on it last year are using it this year. We've used it extensively in the last three years and we've been able to hold our own with teams considerably bigger than us."
Palmer High of Iowa did not have a player taller than 6-2 last season but won a state championship for smaller schools. There were only 23 boys in the school. Palmer is ranked No. 1 again this year and has two players shooting above 55% on three-point attempts.
"Good high school programs have a great incentive to work on the outside shot," Palmer Coach Alden Skinner said. "I think we're getting away from one-on-one, shake-'n'-bake jam city."
Most teams have at least one player who is dangerous from three-point range, but there are three standout members of the Valley-area's 19-9 Bomb Squad:
Kevin Franklin of Taft. Coaches and players consider Franklin the Valley-area's top gunner. A 6-4 senior guard, he is averaging 28.7 points per game and has been contacted by Michigan, Clemson and USC. Against Montclair Prep last week he made 11 of 13 outside jump shots, including several from beyond 24 feet.
Steve Ward of Calabasas. Ward, who is averaging 27.5 points, is considered to be as accurate as Franklin inside 22 feet, but he does not possess Franklin's range. He has been contacted by several Pacific 10 schools.
Greg Paskwietz of Canyon. Although he does not rank in the class of Franklin and Ward, Paskwietz, who is averaging 23.4 points, has attracted college attention primarily because of his outside shooting ability, according to Canyon Coach Greg Hayes.
Paskwietz's situation is not unique. Long-range shooters are more attractive to college coaches now than in the past.
"If the three-point shot becomes permanent, the pure standstill jump-shooter will be more recruitable than he was in the past," USC Coach George Raveling said.
Said Skinner: "Five years ago college coaches wanted a point guard and a big stud inside. An off-guard is equal with the big stud inside now."
THE IMPACT OF A 3-POINT FIELD GOAL IN HIGH SCHOOL It would reduce the number of zone defenses and creating more one-on-one situations. It would act as an equalizer, giving short teams a better chance against taller opponents. It would give teams that are trailing the opportunity to get back into the game more quickly. It would offer shorter players a bigger role in the outcome of a game. It discourages working the ball inside for higher-percentage shots. It would increase scores and add excitement to the game. It would increase the recruiting value of the pure jump shooter. Where once there was a greater demand for a point guard, power forward or center, the three-pointer allows room for an off-guard to be just as valuable.