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Lincolnton Optimist Basketball

Lincolnton Optimist Basketball


Last Updated: 11/7/2023

Lincolnton Optimist Sportsmanship & Game Rules

The Lincolnton Optimist Club (LOC) emphasizes sportsmanship and participation in all age groups. All LOC teams will abide by the following rules:

General Rules

LOC uses a combination of USA basketball rules as well as North Carolina High School rules for all age groups unless noted below.

Playing Time & Sportsmanship

The Lincolnton Optimist Club emphasizes playing time for all players. As such the following guidelines are to be followed by all coaches:

  • All players must play a minimum of a quarter and a half and a maximum of three full quarters per game.
  • A player must appear in both halves of a game.

There will be an official’s stoppage of play at the midpoint of each quarter to facilitate the substitutions and assure each player receives their full playing time. The exact point of stoppage is at the discretion of the official to avoid interfering with ongoing action. This stoppage is not a time out and should be used as such by coaches. All coaches are bound by strict adherence to the playing time limits.

There will be no free substitutions outside of the midpoint of each of the first 3 quarters. A player that starts the 1st, 2nd or 3rd quarter must stay in the game until the midpoint. Exceptions to this rule may occur if a player becomes injured, incurs foul trouble, or receives a technical foul. Foul trouble is 2 fouls in the 1st quarter, 3 fouls in the 2nd quarter and 4 fouls at any point in the game. Coaches may substitute at will during the 4th period and in overtime.

The following exceptions apply to the participation rules described above:

  • Teams that begin a game with 6 players or less are not required to adhere to the maximum participation rules.
  • When a team falls below 7 players during a game, due to injury or foul outs, the team is no longer required to adhere to the participation rules.
  • Players that do not attend 75% of practices.

One goal of Lincolnton Optimist Club is the emphasis of sportsmanship. Please do NOT run up the score on your opponent if you are winning by enough points where the outcome of the game has been determined. Use your discretion but this generally means leading by 10 points with 1 minute to go or 15 points with 2 minutes to go. 


A team must start a game with a minimum of 4 players. Teams without 4 players at the start of the game must forfeit as long as the opposing team has enough players to start the game. 

It will be at the discretion of the opposing to play the game with a full 5 players, or 4 players.

Coaches & Player Conduct

The LOC coaches should act as examples to the players within the league. 

  •  1 Technical Foul - coach is required to stay seated for the remainder of the game; player must be substituted for the remainder of the quarter. Assistant coaches must also remain seated for the remainder of the game.
  • 2 Technical Fouls - coach or player is ejected from the game and suspended from the next game.

Goal Height & Ball Size

Each age group uses goal heights and ball sizes recommended by USA basketball.






27.5” (Size 5)



28.5” (Size 5)



28.5” (Size 6)



Boys 29.5” (Size 7); Girls 28.5” (Size 6)



Boys 29.5” (Size 7); Girls 28.5” (Size 6)

Defense & Press Rules

The following rules apply to each division for defense and pressing.





Defense in lane (one foot)

  • Half-court press - last 2 minutes 4th quarter.

  • Clock starts when the ball crosses half-court


Defense in 3-point circle (both feet)

  • Half-court press - entire 4th quarter

  • Full-court press - last 30 seconds 4th quarter


  • Full-court press - entire 2nd half


  • Full-court press - entire game


  • Full-court press - entire game

  • No press (K-1 & 2-3) with 10 point lead.
  •  No press (all other leagues) with 15 point lead

Illegal Defense

Outside of the pressing rules outlined above, any engagement in defense in the backcourt is left to the discretion of the referee. A violation occurs when a defending player is intentionally “guarding” an attacking player or intentionally making a play on the ball in the backcourt. Accidental defensive plays should not be considered a violation unless deemed intentional. 

Illegal defense infractions will result in 1) a warning to the opposing team, and 2) a two-shot technical foul on the second offense.

Holding Possession

Players and coaches SHOULD NOT attempt to “game” the defensive rules established in K-1 and 2-3 divisions by holding possession outside of the defensive boundaries.

Any player holding possession without making an offensive play at the basket within 10 seconds will result in a turnover. It is up to the discretion of the referee if the player is making an offensive attempt at the basket.

Quarters & Clock Stoppage

Younger divisions (K-1 and 2-3) will play four 6-minute quarters. All other divisions will play four 7-minute quarters.

Additional clock stoppage rules:

  • Two-minute halftime for all ages.
  • Clock stops for all free throws during the 4th quarter, and all whistles last 2 minutes.
  • Clock stops for intentional or technical fouls at any time. 


Teams receive 3 timeouts per game, plus one additional time out in the initial overtime period. The timeouts may be used at any point in the game. 


Games resulting in a tie will play overtime.

  • Initial Overtime - 2-minutes; each team receives one additional timeout.
  • Second Overtime - 1-minute; no additional timeouts.

During the regular season, games will end in a tie after two overtimes if a winner is still undecided. During the playoffs, subsequent one-minute overtime periods will be played until a winner is decided.

All pressing and defense rules apply during overtime as the final two-minutes of regular time.

Tournaments & Playoff Seeding

LOC will conduct a post-season tournament in each age group with seeding determined by order of finish in the regular season. If there is a tie, league officials will look at the following criteria:

  • Criteria 1 - Head-to-head record: wins or losses against the teams with the same record.
    • If you split games, move to criteria 2.
    • If you did not play against each other, move to criteria 2.
    • Teams with head-to-head wins are ranked higher.
  • Criteria 2 - Record against higher seeds: how did you fare against the higher seeds?
    • Compare each team's record against the higher seeds. If the same, move to criteria 3.
    • Teams with wins against the higher seeds are ranked higher.
  • Criteria 3 - Point Differential: the difference between Points For and Points Against.
    • If point differential matches, move to criteria 4.
    • Lowest point differential is ranked higher.
  • Criteria 4 - Coin Flip

These seedings may conflict with standings reported by the LOC website prior to the end of the season.

Additional Rules

The following additional rules apply to specific age groups:

  • K-1 and 2-3: No three-point shots.
  • Mercy Rule: A running clock will take effect in any game where one team takes a lead of 20-points or more in the second half and will continue until the end of the game, regardless of margin.

All-Star Qualifications

Towards the end of each season, coaches for the respective divisions will select players to represent the Lincolnton Optimist Club during all-star games. Players are excluded from all-star selection for the following reasons:

  • 2 or more Technical Fouls received during the LOC season.
  • Not attending at least 70% of practices.


Lincolnton Optimist Basketball
PO Box 1555 
Lincolnton, North Carolina 28093

Phone: 828-455-1172
Email: [email protected]

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