Behind the lines: “Hey Zebra!”

    Guest Posts on County 10 are provided by contributors and the opinions, thoughts, and comments within are their own and may not necessarily reflect those of County 10.

    The winter season begins tomorrow with basketball games across the state. In Fremont County teams will take the court in Riverton and Lander on Thursday in the Bill Strannigan Classic. Other county schools will compete in tournaments in Glenrock and Mountain View. Wrestling opens at Powell for all six Fremont County teams on Friday. Boy’s swimming hits the pools in Gillette and Rawlins this weekend.

    The rules for all sports sometimes change, but high school basketball is always in a state of flux. If you’ve been around the game for a while you might remember when there was no 3-point shot, when the only two-shot free throws came when someone was fouled in the act of shooting, or when even the slightest sideways placement on the ball during a dribble brought a carry call. Those have all changed over time, just as the key has widened, the mechanics of rebounding on a free throw have evolved and the 3-point arc now graces every court in the world.


    More changes are coming this season. They’ll be listed by section and rationale directly from the NFHS basketball rule book below.

    There are always rules on uniform color, length, collar pattern, number size, and whether the style requires a player to tuck in their jersey or if it’s allowed to hang outside the waistline of their shorts. Shorts are changing once again, but this time it is a major difference. Players can now wear pants, skirts, or shorts of any length all on the same team as long as the colors match. It’s a rule that reflects the modern trend of individuality over team play, but in practicality, it’s a rule that helps officials.

    Officials have a big enough job already without playing fashion police as well. This takes the religious, ethnic, and gender “expression” out of the game, and just allows kids to play.

    As usual, there were tweaks to what is and isn’t allowed in a t-shirt worn under the jersey. The fashion aspect of basketball is always at war with the trendiness of the kids playing the game.


    Officials administer the rules, that’s what they’re supposed to do. They follow impartially, without interpretation, and keep the game safe for the players.

    With that in mind, the national association changed the method of counting fouls for free throws and eliminated the one-and-one free throw. Now any foul after the fifth team foul per period is a two-shot foul. The foul count is reset to zero at the start of each period, a clean slate if you will.

    The idea was to reduce the number of injuries that occur when rebounding a missed free throw. There were a lot of ankle and knee injuries when players came down on another player’s foot and an equal number of elbow shots to the head as players battled for rebounds in tight groups in the paint.


    The final rule change will get uninformed fans screaming throughout the season. When a ball goes out of bounds it will still be placed back in play at that spot, but when a timeout is called, and the ball is in the forecourt it can only be thrown back in at four designated spots. On the sidelines, it is 28 feet from the baseline, and on the baseline, it is three feet from the side of the free throw lane.

    One other rule will complicate things for officials. It allows a player to step out of bounds if it doesn’t give them an advantage and they don’t catch the ball immediately after returning to the court.

    Now officials will have to decide if a kid cuts around a block out or screen by leaving the court and whether that gives him or her an advantage. It was much easier just to call a violation when they left the floor.


    Sports are in crisis mode trying to find officials. Many lower-level programs are being canceled due to a lack of officials, and varsity-level games are now spread throughout the week with the same pool of officials working far too many games.

    Mike Maloney, a veteran official, is the new WHSAA Director of Officials, a position that Commissioner Trevor Wilson held previously.

    His duties include training, evaluation, and selection of officials for the post-season.

    There will be no evaluators sitting in the stands watching officials this season, instead, another system is in place.

    “We have a new evaluation form. The idea is for the evaluation to be used by the local association. We should have a system in place to evaluate all officials, not just those who want to work post-season games,” Maloney said. “We will use the same evaluation when you come to our summer clinic. If you want to work post-season you have to attend once every five years to become certified officials.”

    There is a growing shortage of officials in all sports, but it has reached a critical level in basketball.

    “Most officials are former players. We’ve reached out to school districts, and superintendents to get high school kids officiating youth-level games. If we can get high school kids involved and trained, hopefully someday they can become officials for us here in Wyoming,” Maloney said.

    With that in mind, officiating classes are opening in schools around the state.

    “Shoshoni has an officiating class taught by Macey Mortimore,” Maloney said. “In January Shoshoni High School kids can learn to become officials. A company will provide schools with the content to teach online. Lisa Dutton at Sundance has six kids in her officiating class. They learned volleyball, four will do basketball in winter, and a girl is interested in wrestling.”

    You can help in the stands by pointing out these rule changes when someone blows up and starts screaming at the officials.

    You can help even more by being a good fan and not losing your mind over a traveling call or some other infraction you spotted from 75 feet away that the referee missed from eight feet.

    Each year officials have areas of emphasis they are to focus on. This season those three areas will be: Uniforms, Equipment and Apparel, Bench Decorum and Throw-Ins – Proper Locations.

    Decorum extends to the floor as well with officials instructed to call technical fouls on players who make comments or gestures, whether profane or not, after a call they don’t like. The same holds for coaches who get out of line.

    As a fan, you’ll just be ejected from the gym if you get abusive.

    The game is for the kids, please remember that.

    Major rule changes for the 2023-24 Basketball Season – h/t

    Related Posts

    Have a news tip or an awesome photo to share?