GRAND FORKS - North Dakota is considering a mercy rule for basketball. At a recent state district chairpersons' meeting, a straw vote passed to send the mercy rule to the North Dakota High School Activities Association's board of directors for discussion.

Under the proposal, in any game in which a team is ahead by 30 or more points at the start of the fourth quarter, the clock would run continuously in the final quarter, stopping only for an injury or a timeout. If the deficit is cut to less than 20, the clock would again run normally.

"It's come to the board before through this avenue,'' said Matt Fetsch, executive director of the NDHSAA. "There hasn't been support for it in previous years from our basketball coaches advisory board. It will be discussed when they meet this spring. Whether they endorse it will probably be a factor in the board's decision.

"Most people think (a mercy rule) is something losing teams want. But that's not necessarily the case. I've noticed in the past that the losing teams are the ones who haven't supported a mercy rule. The rationale is that they were losing court time and an opportunity to develop players.''

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