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Sweet tooth at the JT scorer's table

Published January 14. 2010 05:00PM

Whether they would like to admit it or not, a person usually develops a sweet-tooth at some point in their lives.

It doesn't matter if you are a little kid, an adult or a member of the elderly, there is nothing quite like enjoying a sweet, tasty treat whenever possible.

But like everything else in the world - there is a time and place for everything. Chewing on a chocolate bar at a picnic would be a good idea. Ripping open a bag of candy in a corporate meeting - not so much.

Watching a movie, celebrating Halloween or running around an amusement park would all qualify as a good time to enjoy a snack. How about at a competitive high school basketball game? Probably not, right?

Natalie Kmetz, the Jim Thorpe boys' basketball scorekeeper, kindly disagrees.

"We have had candy on the table ever since I started keeping the book," said Kmetz, who has been in charge of the Olympians' book for about 20 years. "Then it just started about four years ago with the gummy worms.

"I got gummy worms one time just for the heck of it. I put them on the table and they were such a big hit. At the time we were winning and winning, so I thought to myself, 'It must be the gummy worms.' And that's the way it's been for the last four years."

Since Kmetz brought out the goodies, everyone from the players to the coaches - even the referees - have gotten in on the free sweets.

"It's gotten to be that the referees love the gummy worms just as much as the players," said Kmetz. "It is so funny to see the referees put the worms in their mouth and have to blow their whistle. They put the worm on one side and blow the whistle on the other side. It's hysterical."

However, this past Monday things were a little different. Kmetz, although she said that she wasn't overly superstitious, decided to change things up a little bit.

Heading into Monday's game with Lehighton, Jim Thorpe had been on a two-game losing streak. Instead of putting the worms out on the table, Kmetz brought out valentines hearts and some other sugar candies in hopes of getting the Olympians back on track.

"I don't know whether it's superstition or what," Kmetz said. "The kids came over to the table before the game and weren't touching anything. They noticed the worms weren't out and they asked me where they were. I said I didn't buy any, but I did.

"I told Rashid (Epps) that if they scored more than Lehighton by halftime then I would bring out the worms. He said 'okay.'"

Jim Thorpe would lead Lehighton by 15 at the break and went on to win by 18.

Kmetz first started helping out 29 years ago when she did the clock for just about every sport at the school. Kmetz was one of only a few females in the area working the table at the time and while she didn't feel much pressure, she recalled a moment in which she did.

"I was working the clock my first year and somebody yelled at me," Kmetz said with a laugh. "And I cried. Now, I have gotten a tough skin and don't pay attention to it."

Nine years later Kmetz started doing the book. Even then there weren't many females in charge of keeping the book for a boys' team. Although two decades have past since she started, Kmetz easily remembered the first time she was asked to help out.

"Believe it or not our book keeper got sick one night and I was in the stands at a Marian game," recalled Kmetz. "They said they needed me and I said okay. My children played at the time, so I did it. Then I just kept doing it. It's been fun."

Thanks to her open generosity with her sweets, Kmetz has made it fun for everyone.


ON THE DEFENSIVE ... It's a pretty rare occurrence for any team to hold an opponent scoreless for an entire quarter. But the Northern Lehigh girls basketball team has made it part of its routine in the last week.

In games last Friday and Saturday against Palisades and Pius X, the Bulldogs posted a total of three shutout quarters. In both games, the Northern Lehigh defense dominated from the opening tap. On Friday, it took Palisades until the third period to score a single point in a 47-17 setback to Northern Lehigh. On Saturday, it took Pius X until the second quarter to record a point in a 62-17 Bulldog victory. Northern Lehigh held the Pirates and Royals to single digits in seven of the eight periods of basketball played in that two-day stretch.


MILESTONE .... Earlier this season, Weatherly's Keith Barna accomplished something that very few basketball players at any level of play do during their careers. Barna compiled a quadruple-double against Columbia-Montour Vo-Tech on Dec. 23. Barna scored 31 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, passed out 10 assists and made 10 steals during an 82-66 Wrecker victory.

Last Friday, Barna reached another rare milestone as he became only the 22nd Weatherly boys basketball player to surpass the 1,000 point plateau in his career. With 3:35 left in the fourth quarter against Nativity, Barna drained a free throw attempt to reach the monumental accomplishment. Barna went on to finish with a game-high 23 points and helped the Wreckers make it an even more memorable night as they rolled to a 59-39 Schuylkill League win.

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