Local Sports

Basketball schedule adjusts to accommodate ‘fifth quarter’ rule

By Calli Newberry

In case you were wondering, as I was, why this year’s high school basketball schedule looks a little different, I asked around to find out what was going on.

In previous years, high school basketball games were played on Tuesdays and Fridays. All three levels of the boys program would play at one location while all three levels of the girls program would play at another on Tuesdays. 

Thursdays were for the JV and freshman teams to play, followed by a Friday night double header of girls and boys varsity games. 

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This year’s schedule follows a different pattern. For the most part, the weeks alternate with the girls programs playing Tuesdays and Fridays, while the boys programs will play on Mondays and Thursdays, and then they switch the next week. 

At first I didn’t understand the change, but after talking with coaches, I learned that it’s the result of the “fifth quarter” rule.

Last season (2020-21), the MHSAA introduced this new rule that allows a player to compete in five quarters of basketball in one day.

“In basketball, an athlete may compete in up to five quarters per day, during no more than three dates per week and 20 dates per team or individual,” the rule states. “Both changes will allow athletes to contribute to both varsity and subvarsity teams simultaneously, potentially bolstering numbers and opportunities to retain those squads.” 

This was announced in a press release from the MHSAA on May 8, 2020, following the annual spring meeting of the Representative Council of the Michigan High School Athletic Association on May 4.

If the schedule remained the same, a JV player who competed on a Tuesday and a Thursday and also played in Friday’s varsity game would meet his or her three-game limit for the week. This would be fine, but at that rate, the player would meet the 20-game per season limit quite quickly, especially when the basketball season runs 12 weeks long at a minimum. 

By rearranging the schedule so the freshman, JV, and varsity teams play on the same day, a player can bounce around between the three teams, while only using up one of the allotted 20 contests. 

So while Friday nights may look a little different, the goal is to strengthen the basketball programs around the state and increase their depth by allowing athletes to fill two spots on two rosters, essentially, which is especially helpful for programs with dwindling numbers. 

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