This season, if you walk into a high school gymnasium and see two referees on the court and one sitting at the scorers table don't be confused. Some people might think it's a substitute in case an official gets hurt, but it's not. If it was a playoff game there would be three officials, but considering all three officials would be on the court then that can't be it.

So the question is why is there someone sitting at the scorers table sporting the black and white stripes?

The answer is simple. The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association has made a new rule change for the 2012-13 season. That rule is that all official scorers must dawn the same black and white stripes that the referees wear.

So the next question is why do they have to wear the black and white stripes? Afterall, the scorekeepers are not trained officials. They are just somebody who is familiar with the game of basketball or has a passion for the game that takes time to help out their local school.

After talking with a few officials from around the area they gave some reasons on why the PIAA made the rule change and also why it helps them when officiating a game.

Most officials will be quick to tell you that in a regular-sized gym like most of our local schools in the TIMES NEWS area that it really doesn't have that much bearing on the game. Only when the game might have a raucous crowd on hand whether it be in a rivalry game or tournament type atmosphere does the rule really help out.

"The home book or the home scorer is always the official book and when we're in a regular sized gym on a regular night you really don't see the affect of the rule," said PIAA official Tim Scheeler. "It is nice though even if it is just a small crowd that if we have a discrepancy for any reason that we just head right for the scorer wearing the black and white stripes. There have been problems in the past where the visiting book didn't match up with the home book. The home book was always the official book, but now they know by wearing the shirt that they are the person we're coming to if there is an issue."

Now playoff games at bigger gymnasiums is where this rule can really help an official, especially when the games get deeper into the district and state level. The atmosphere is loud, there is usually music playing in between each timeout or break. Every basket keys an ovation from each respective cheering section. It can really be distracting for anybody let alone an official.

"You see the rule have more meaning at a bigger place like Parkland," said Scheeler. "At Parkland they have tables on both sides for media, the scorers, coaches who are recruiting players and so on. So it's really nice to have the person standout then because like I said, there is so many people on either side of you. Also once the crowds get much bigger it's always nice just to have a designated person to talk to. It keeps the game moving smoothly and swiftly."

Lastly, the PIAA officials also get to have a little fun with the scorekeepers as well. They all have a running joke that they tell the scorers before the start of the game.

"Most every place we go we always mess with the scorers a little bit now for wearing the same shirts we do," said Scheeler. "We always say if either of us goes down, if we pull a hamstring or whatever you guys have to be ready to go. They always get a kick out of it and we have fun with them a little bit."

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SICK BAY ..... It's been a tough road for the Palmerton boys' basketball program and it got even tougher in the past week when the flu bug hit the school. Freshman starter Spencer Hay has missed three straight games, while both varsity point guard Matt Leaver and JV starter/varsity sub Nick Frey played sick on Monday night, but didn't make the trip to Green Pond on Tuesday night. Interim head coach Frank McCarroll left for Green Pond with just nine total players.

Things didn't get better when junior Ty Achterman suffered a possible concussion and freshman Zach Buck became ill during the JV game, leaving him with seven players for the varsity game. McCarroll also had to fill in for his son Sean as JV coach since he was also home with the flu.

With a home game against Colonial League South leader Wilson on Friday, followed by a road trip to Southern Lehigh next Tuesday, hopefully the group can get healthy and pick up their first win somewhere soon.

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ONE HUNDRED AND COUNTING ..... Marian and Weatherly's boys' basketball teams met for the 100th time this past Friday.

The Colts won the game by a score of 59-22 and in turn pushed their overall record against the Wreckers to an astounding 80-20.

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REACHING A MILESTONE ..... Northwestern's Sara Jones recently went over the 1,000-point mark for her basketball career.

The Tigers' senior guard needed just seven points entering her team's game with William Allen last Wednesday. She scored 16 in the game and helped lead her squad to the 55-29 win.

Jones has since scored ten, nine and 30 points in her last three games. Her 30-point outburst came against Southern Lehigh on Tuesday.

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GETTING DEFENSIVE .... The Northwestern girls' basketball team also put forth a great defensive effort against Catsauqua last Thursday.

The Tigers held the Rough Riders to just 13 points for the entire game. The Riders never scored more than six points in any quarter, including a goose-egg in the third.

The 13 points allowed is the lowest total a local girls' team has given up so far this season.