Don’t like late-game fouling? The Elam Ending is for you.

For the purpose of the GBC; the Elam Ending is designed to preserve a more natural end-of-game finish, the Elam Ending calls for the game clock to be shut off at the first dead ball under three minutes in the fourth quarter or second half. A target score is then established by adding five points to the leading team’s score (for 6th thru 8th grade only).

For example, if the score is 73-68, the two teams will play until someone reaches 78 with no game clock in play; trailing teams are allowed to focus on getting stops and buckets, rather than intentionally fouling.

After originally testing the rule out on a part-time basis in 2017, The Basketball Tournament implemented it for all games beginning in 2018. The results were eye-opening. Not only did fans embrace the concept, but it led to a noticeably better end-of-game experience both on the court and in the stands.

In the summer of 2019, NBA All-Star and Team CP3 GM Chris Paul made a recommendation to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and proposed implementing the Elam Ending at the 2020 All-Star Game. “I’m all about strategy and the way you have to think the game down the stretch,” says Paul. The league officially went ahead with the Elam Ending and as a way to honor the late L.A. Lakers great Kobe Bryant, added 24 points to the leading team’s total after three quarters.

The competing teams ended up playing to a target score of 157, leading to one of the best finishes for an NBA All-star game. The rule was also adopted by New Zealand’s National Basketball League in May of 2020.

Many of us have a misconception about how often games end with a meaningful made basket. Under the regular format, when a game ends with an unsuccessful meaningful possession, the clock does the heavy lifting (and turns the most important possession of the game into a blooper reel), not the defense. Even for some of the rare games that end with a buzzer-beater (those released in a tie game), the Elam Ending would raise the stakes and enhance the drama. All that remains is the fraction of a percent of games that end with a do-or-die buzzer-beater (where the team that wins at the buzzer was trailing at the time they released the shot); those are definitely cool, but even then the clock still dampens the celebration by necessitating a replay review.

The Elam ending allows teams to play at a high level all the way through the end of the game and take their best shot on the last possession of the game. It provided greater hope for late comebacks as long as you can continue to get defensive stops. And it provided more memorable game-ending moments.

  1. All players must have the same jersey color, with their individual numbers on the back. The first team listed is the home team and the home team will wear white (or lighter color jersey).
  2. 5-minute warm-ups – Time permitting - The clock starts immediately.
  3. Games will be played as scheduled. Game time is forfeit time.
  4. A team must have four players to start a game and three players to finish. Once a team is down to two players regardless of the score, the game is over and the team with two players loses.
  5. An intermediate-sized ball (28.5) will be used for all girl’s games. A 29.5” ball will be used for all boy’s games.
  6. Players must compete in their own grade classification, with the exception that players in a lower grade may participate in an older division. 
  7. A player may only play for one team (per grade division) during the tournament. Some age brackets may be combined based on team registrations or level of play.
  8. Teams will be responsible for supplying a scorekeeper or someone to run the clock. We ask that you use good judgment in having a responsible individual fulfill this assignment.
  9. Coaches must check in at the registration table. A maximum of 2 coaches will be allowed free admission.
  10. Teams should arrive at least 20 minutes before game time. Remember, game time is forfeit time. 
  11. No refunds within 2 weeks of the tournament. Grassroots Basketball Circuit is not financially responsible for forfeits or weather conditions that cause game cancellations. The tournament expenses have been paid in advance.
  12. There is an admission charge for adults and children ages 5+ (coaches are free – max 2 per team).

Tournament Rules – Local state interscholastic rules are used with the following exceptions:
  1. Length of Game: Two 16-minute stop-clock halves for high school, 14-minute stop-clock for junior high – clock stops on all whistles. Two 20-minute halves with running clock for 5th grade and below – clock stops during the last minute of the 2nd half. The clock will also stop on time-outs, injuries, and game delays (wet surface, referee discussions, etc.). 
  2. Timeouts: Three 1-minute timeouts per game, to be used in either half of the game. One additional timeout for the overtime period (non-Elam Ending). Any calls for a time-out after your limit will result in a technical foul.
  3. Defense: All defenses are allowed, including zone & full-court press. No full-court press or half-court trapping after a 20-point lead. (Exception: No pressing until the second half for 5th grade and under)
  4. If there is a 20-point lead (last 3 minutes only), the clock will continue to run and there is no ELAM ending.
  5. ELAM ENDING: Elam Ending calls for the game clock to be shut off at the first dead ball under 3 minutes in the second half. For high school, a target score is then established by adding 7 points to the leading team’s score (5 points for 7th & 8th grades). For example, if the score is 50-44, high school teams will play until a team’s score reaches 57.
  6. Overtime (non-ELAM): If teams are tied at the end of regulation, the overtime period will be sudden death. The first point of any kind will end the game.
  7. Pools and brackets will be decided by the following tiebreakers – head-to-head (2 teams), point differential, points scored, points against, coin flip.
  8. Player fouls and team fouls will be played under the NFHS rules. This includes bonus and super bonus.
  9. Two technical fouls on a player or coach will result in immediate ejection and a suspension for the following game. The coach or player must leave the bench/game area immediately and may no longer participate in any way.
  10. Unsportsmanlike Conduct: In the event that a coach has been issued 2 technical fouls and will not leave the bench area, he/she will have to leave the building immediately or his/her team will be disqualified. The coach will not be allowed to coach any of the remaining games in the tournament or league.
  11. Coaches are responsible for fans and players. Abuse of officials by fans may result in technical fouls being called on the coach or ejection from the premises. Any unbecoming conduct, fighting, or use of profanity will result in a technical foul, ejection from the tournament facility, or elimination from the tournament or league (without a refund).
  12. The referees have full authority on the court. Protests will not be allowed.
  13. The Tournament Director or Site Director has the final authority on all rules and interpretations.