Coaches, administrators react to high school basketball rule changes

The National Federation of State High School Associations will be eliminating the one-and-one free throw rule and setting new foul limits for awarding the bonus.

Central Cass' Cole Holzer is fouled driving to the basket against Shiloh during the North Dakota Class B state high school boys basketball tournament championship game at the Bismarck Event Center on Saturday, March 18, 2023.
David Samson/The Forum

FARGO — Players, coaches and spectators will see some major changes coming to high school basketball in the upcoming season.

The National Federation of State High School Associations announced this week that various rule changes will take effect in 2023-24, including the elimination of the one-and-one free throw situations and new foul limits for awarding the bonus.

The amended Rule 4-8-1 now states that two shots will be awarded for all common fouls. In states and/or classes that play quarters, teams will now reach the bonus when their opponent commits five fouls in each quarter, with team fouls resetting at the end of each quarter.

The previous rule awarded teams the bonus after seven fouls were committed in a half before entering the double-bonus on the 10th foul of each half. With the change, the one-and-one will be eliminated completely, with teams going straight to the double-bonus.

In a news release, the NFHS cited high injury rates on rebound plays as one of the reasons for the change.


“The rules committee studied data that showed higher injury rates on rebounding situations and saw this as an opportunity to reduce opportunities for rough play during rebounds,” said Lindsey Atkinson, NFHS Director of Sports and liaison to the Basketball Rules Committee. “Additionally, resetting the fouls each quarter will improve game flow and allow teams to adjust their play by not carrying foul totals to quarters two and four.”

The changes aren't as straightforward for everyone, as the North Dakota High School Activities Association implements halves in its highest division of high school basketball, Class 2A.

NDHSAA assistant director Justin Fletschock, who oversees basketball, said that the rule changes will be implemented for Class A and B — which use a quarters structure — while a decision on Class 2A has not been determined.

"We wouldn't make that decision without talking to our coaches and things like that," Fletschock said. "It's going to be a couple of months before we have an answer on that. But for our divisions that have quarters, it will be implemented next year."

Grand Forks Red River's Jocelyn Schiller is fouled by West Fargo's Miriley Simon during their North Dakota Class A Girls Basketball Tournament semifinal game Friday, March 10, 2023, in Fargo.
Michael Vosburg/The Forum

East of the Red River, the Minnesota State High School League will not adopt the changes, according to league communications coordinator Tim Leighton. Minnesota uses halves in all of its high school basketball divisions.

"There will be no change for member schools of the Minnesota State High School League," Leighton said in an email. "League contests will remain with the current rules in place."

Fletschock noted that the change was rather sudden, although it's been on the table for some time.

"I found out about a week ago," Fletschock said. "It was down as a rules change proposal for the NFHS this year and I think last year also, but it didn't pass last year.


"It mirrors the NCAA women's (basketball) free throw shooting, where they do the same thing in their games with quarters."

Rule changes were approved by the NFHS Basketball Rules Committee last month before they were subsequently approved by the association's board of directors.

Central Cass is one school that will be affected by the change next season. The Squirrels will play in the restructured Class A after the NDHSAA board approved the state's new three-class basketball system in February.

Jay Bachman, girls head coach at Central Cass, said he understands NFHS' reasoning for the change, but he isn't too keen on it.

"I understand why they did it and we will adjust to the new rules," Bachman said. "I understand the logic of making the game safer.

"I personally don’t like it. I think the loss of the one-and-one bonus will effect the end-of-game situations. I also don’t like that it won’t be the same from class to class. If we travel to Minnesota, it might change then, as well."

Thompson's Kya Hurst and Central Cass’ Decontee Smith vie for the ball during their North Dakota Girls Class B Basketball Tournament championship game Saturday, March 4, 2023, in Minot.
Michael Vosburg/The Forum

Fargo North will remain in North Dakota's highest division next season. With change still in question for Class 2A, Spartans boys head coach Travis Hoeg said he prefers the one-and-one rule since it works to the benefit of high-percentage free throw teams.

"Personally, I like the way we utilize the one-and-one after seven fouls and go double-bonus after 10 fouls," Hoeg said. "I'm old school, I think the one-and-one situation rewards players and teams that shoot the free throw at a higher percentage, which I believe is equitable."


Hoeg also noted concerns of game flow, with the rule change carrying the potential to slow down a contest significantly.

"Without any changes to the newly adopted rule, it could really slow the game down for teams that play 2A," Hoeg said. "Teams can reach five fouls in a half pretty quickly, thus instead of entertaining up-and-down basketball, it could potentially turn into a free throw contest.

"I think as a fan, it could make the game less enjoyable to watch. Hopefully, we follow Minnesota’s decision and decide to not follow the rule in Class 2A. It’s kind of apples to oranges because we play two halves and Classes A and B will be playing four quarters."

Fargo North's Carter Zeller fights for the ball against Bismarck Legacy's Chase Knoll during the North Dakota state boys high school basketball tournament quarterfinals at the Fargodome on Thursday, March 9, 2023.
David Samson/The Forum

Fletschock said he hasn't heard much feedback from coaches and administrators yet, saying the change will be a "wait-and-see" type of deal.

"I've not heard a need for it from our coaches or our schools," Fletschock said. "But that doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad thing. I guess we'll just see where it takes us.

"We had a shot clock for 20 years before the NFHS had one. So we've implemented change that hasn't always been nationwide. If (the NFHS) makes a change, it could be something that turns out well, just like the shot clock has."

Other approved rule changes, outlined in NFHS' news release, include:

Rules 7-5-2 through 7-5-5: Front-court throw-ins


When the ball is in team control in the offensive team’s front court and the defensive team commits a violation, a common foul prior to the bonus, or the ball becomes dead, the corresponding throw-in by the offensive team will be at one of four designated spots determined by where the infraction took place. The designated spots are either the nearest 28-foot mark along each sideline or the nearest spot 3 feet outside the lane line on the end line. The one exception is when the defensive team causes a ball to be out of bounds, the throw-in shall be the spot where the ball went out of bounds.

Rule 7-6-6: Throw-in administration

When an official administers a throw-in to the wrong team, the error can be fixed before the first dead ball after the ball becomes live unless there has been a change in possession.

Rule 2-1-3: Shot clock operator

Establishes the official placement of a shot clock operator at the scorer’s table for those states utilizing the shot clock.

Rule 3-4-5: Uniform bottoms

Clarifies that multiple styles of uniform bottoms may be worn by teammates, but they must all be like-colored and adhere to uniform rules outlined in Rule 3-6-2 regarding logos and trademarks.

Rule 3-5-6: Undershirts


Addresses undershirts and allows teams to wear a single solid color or solid black for visiting teams with dark jerseys. This provides an opportunity for schools with hard-to-find colors to have all players wear a black undershirt.

Rule 9-3-3: Stepping out of bounds

Amended to allow a player to step out of bounds and return to the court if the player gains no advantage. A player is penalized only if, after returning inbounds, the player is the first to touch the ball or avoids a violation.

Ryan Spitza joined The Forum in December 2021 as a sports reporter. He grew up in Marquette, Mich., a city of 20,000 on the southern shore of Lake Superior. He majored in multimedia journalism and minored in public relations at Northern Michigan University, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in May 2019. While attending college, Spitza gained real-world experience covering high school and college athletics for both The Mining Journal and The North Wind.

Spitza can be reached at 701-451-5613 or Follow him on Twitter @ryspitza.
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