How Long Is a High School Basketball Game?

Are you planning to watch a high school basketball game live? If so, you have to be prepared to spend more than an hour to watch the match. While the regulation time of a high school basketball game is less than an hour, many things happen during the game which makes it longer.

How long is a high school basketball game? A typical high school basketball game lasts approximately 1.5 hours.

The base regulation time of a high school basketball game is about 42 minutes. There are four quarters. Each quarter is eight minutes which totals 32 minutes. Add a 10-minute halftime break, and you got a total of 42 minutes. Fouls, clock stoppages, and timeouts are some of the things that cause the total game time to stretch to about 1.5 hours or longer.

Read on to learn more about how long a high school basketball game lasts, and the reason why some games take so long to finish.

How Long Is a High School Basketball Game?

A majority of basketball fans don’t mind the time when they watch their favorite team play. For them, the game is so absorbing that they don’t care how much time they spend watching. It’s just pure enjoyment, especially if your team wins. But it’s quite the reverse if your team loses.

The NFHS (National Federation of State High School Associations) decreed that high school basketball games should be at least 32 minutes long. A high school ball game is composed of four quarters with eight minutes each. So thIS totals 32 minutes.

However, you still have to consider the halftime break. The players need their breather so they can get back fresh in the play for the second half. A break of 10 minutes between the second and third quarters is the official format. So, 32 minutes (four quarters) plus 10 minutes (halftime break) will give us a total of 42 minutes.

But that is only the regulation time. Many things happen during the game to stretch the 42 minutes to more than an hour, or even up to two hours.

What Is the Actual Length of a High School Basketball Game?

How long are high school basketball games on average? As mentioned earlier, on average, high school basketball games range from one hour and a half to more than two hours. The length of time of these basketball games may greatly vary because of the different styles of play, the number of fouls called in the game, the level of competition, and many more.

Every basketball game must have a winner. If the score is tied at the end of regulation time, overtime will follow, and another five minutes are added to the game. But before overtime starts, some additional seconds or even minutes are spent for the preparation of referees, coaches, and players.

If the game’s score is still tied at the end of the first overtime, another overtime will follow. This course will go on until a team wins. It is not unusual to have 4-5 OTs in a high school basketball game. In fact, the most number of OTs on record is 13.

How Long Is a High School Basketball Game on Live TV?

high school basketball game length of time
How long do high school basketball games last?

Television coverage of a high school basketball game will be even longer. Be prepared to spend more than two hours if you plan to watch your favorite high school basketball team on TV. Typically, TV hosts conduct pre- and post-game reviews with the players, basketball analysts, and so forth. Usually, time for these reviews adds up on top of the actual game time.

Pre-game Show

The pre-game show usually begins 30 minutes before the game starts. Typically, the host will interview a basketball analyst to predict what could happen in the upcoming match.

Post-game Show

The post-game show is usually a bit shorter and will consume approximately 10-15 minutes. Often, the hosts will interview the MVP of the game, as well as the leading player of the losing team. The analyst may also try to break down what happened in the just concluded match, including its implication on the respective teams’ forthcoming games.

You have to add the times allotted for the pre- and post-game shows to the actual time the game ended to arrive at the total time consumed by that particular game. Therefore, if the average game time is somewhere between one and a half hours to two hours, a high school basketball game on TV will take around two hours and 15 minutes to two hours and 45 minutes.

Playoff Games

High school basketball playoff games are even longer than regular season ball games. On average, playoff games in high school ball games are 15-20 minutes longer than the regular games.

The reason is that in the playoffs, there are more free throws, more in-game and post-game reviews, more substitutions, more timeouts, etc. Therefore, prepare to spend at least more than two hours or even three hours or more if you plan to watch a high school basketball match on TV.

How Is Time Counted on a High School Basketball Game?

The clock is the most critical tool in a sports match, especially in a basketball game. How do they count the time in an ongoing game? As soon as the clock kicks in during a basketball match, it will continue running until one of the following things happen:

  • A referee calls a foul
  • A foul shooter is shooting his free throws
  • A time out is called either by a coach or a referee
  • The ball goes out of bound

As soon as the ball gets inbound, and a player receives the ball, the clock kicks back in. The shot clock is activated and the time countdown starts. There are states in the USA that do not require shot clocks. In US states that require shot clocks, they follow the 35-second shot clock used by the NCAA.

The Shot Clock

The shot clock is incorporated by some of the states to improve the game pace. Without it, the players tend to prolong their shots as part of their game strategy. If the ball hits the rim but does not go down the hole, the shot clock starts again at 35 seconds. However, if the ball does not hit the rim, the shot clock will continue to wind down.

If a player shoots a ball and sinks it in the dying minutes of the game, resulting in a tied score, overtime will follow. Unlike other sports, there is no tied game in basketball. Another five minutes will be added to the time clock. No matter how long a high school basketball game will take, there should always be a winner.

Timeouts

Timeouts are crucial for basketball teams. They use these breaks to strategize their plays in response to what is happening on the floor. These breaks also provide the players extra breathing time to rest and recover from the physicality of running to and fro.

In high school basketball, a team is allowed a maximum of five timeouts. The coach or any active player on the team can call for a timeout. Three of the five timeouts are called full timeouts, with each being 60 seconds. Two of the five timeouts are only 30 seconds each and can only be called at the start of the game.

Teams are allowed to use all their timeouts in just one quarter or save them up until the last quarter. If there is overtime, each team will have one full timeout. Any unused timeouts during the regulation time will be carried over to the extension period.

What Are the Different Factors Affecting the Length of a High School Basketball Game?

length of time high school basketball game
How long do high school basketball games last?

To know how long high school games last, you need to know some factors that affect the length of a high school basketball game. Here is a list of all things that can happen during a ball game between two high school teams, including the usual time one basketball game lasts.

  • Four Quarters – A high school basketball game is played in four quarters. How long is a quarter in high school basketball? Each quarter has eight minutes for the varsity level and 6-7 minutes for the junior varsity level.
  • Halftime Break – During the game, there is a halftime break, which is 10 minutes long.
  • Team Fouls – Five team fouls are allowed for every quarter. 
  • Timeouts – Each team is allowed five timeouts per game. Three of these are full timeouts of 60 seconds each. The remaining two timeouts are 30 seconds each. A team could use all their timeouts in one quarter, or save and use them in the last quarter. There could be more timeouts in the last two minutes of the game, which will only lengthen the game time by almost half an hour.
  • Ball Possessions – When there are changes in ball possessions or when the ball hits the rim, the 35-second shot clock kicks in. Only eight states in the NFHS follow this shot clock rule. The rest of the states don’t follow this rule. That can explain why their matches are usually longer.
  • More (Strategic) Fouls – The lagging team may commit more fouls to stop the 35-second shot clock. It will give them more time to catch up, making the game even longer.

The above factors are some of the things that make high school basketball games end longer. Most high school basketball associations have no standing shot clock rule because only eight states follow this rule.

For those who follow this rule, the shot clock stops if any of the above things happen. If there are 10 seconds or less left in the shot clock, it will be carried over when the shot clock starts again.

Who Determines the Length of a High School Basketball Game?

The NFHS (National Federation of State High School Associations) is the governing body that sets the rules of high school basketball games. This organization is the one that sets the length of time a high school basketball should be played.

The NFHS sets the rules of basketball games for girls and boys in the entire 50 states, as well as Washington, DC. There are around 18,500 member schools that follow their rules. This body ensures that there is consistency in the sports competition in all high schools in the United States.

What Is the Longest High School Basketball Game on Record?

Angier High School Vs. Boone Trail High School

The longest high school basketball game in the record books was the game between Angier High School and Boone Trail High School. The game was played in Carter Gym of Campbell University. The score at the end of the regulation time was 44-44.

It took the two opposing teams 13 overtimes before one came out the winner. Both teams used their five starters to finish the game without any substitutions. The final score was 54-52, in favor of Boone Trail High School.

The starting bell rung at 8:30 p.m., and the final buzzer was heard just before midnight. It took Boone Trail High nearly three and a half hours to beat Angier High and only two points at that. The leading scorer of the winning team shot 29 points.

Liberty Center Vs. Swayzee

The match between Liberty Center and Swayzee is probably the next longest high school basketball game ever played in the United States. This game took nine overtimes before Swayzee won.

A player on the winning team recalled that the game lasted 59 minutes. It was nearly twice as long as a regular game, said the player. The score at the final buzzer was 65-61 in favor of Swayzee.

Conclusion How Long are High School Basketball Games?

So, to recap, how long is a high school basketball game? A typical high school basketball game will last about 1.5 hours, or even up to 2 hours. The base regulation time is 42 minutes. Every game has four 8-minute quarters for a total of 32 minutes. Then there’s a halftime break, which is 10 minutes, making the total number of minutes to 42.

However, a typical high school basketball match usually lasts an hour and a half to two hours. Fouls, clock stoppages, and timeouts are some of the things that can make the game time longer.