SIOUX CITY —  Iowa’s Sweet Sixteen Plus 16 goes to the “Well’’ Monday in Des Moines.

Always an exciting time of the year in girls basketball, not as much as in the old six-player days, but there’ll still be a certain degree of excitement nonetheless.

When the first Sweet Sixteen was held in the then-brand new Veterans Auditorium in 1955, more than 15,000 fans filled the “Barn’’ (to the rafters) to watch the Cinderella team, the Indianettes from tiny Goldfield, shock the No. 1-ranked and favored Holstein Piratettes in the championship game, 53-51 in overtime.

Getting 15,000 for one of the four title games later this week is an improbability. But it would be a decidedly wonderful happening once again.

And, the way the winter is going, maybe the tournament is in store for another overnighter like the 1959 final when the snowstorm of all snowstorms shut down Des Moines and kept thousands in the “Barn’’ until the next day.

Now, that was a sock hop and slumber party for the ages.

And, mighty Gladbrook defeated Maynard West Central to win the tall trophy.

The last dance in the sometimes dark and drafty “Barn’’ was in 2005, but the building is being renovated to the tune of millions and there have actually been basketball games played there the last few years.

It won’t hold 15,000, though.

Oh, yes, the last six-player title game in 1993.

Hubbard-Radcliffe beat Atlantic 85-66. The most memorable game came in the first-round when Hubbard-Radcliffe’s Lisa Brinkmeyer scored 62 straight points in a 71-62 win over Maynard West Central.

That West Central team was coached by Gene Klinge, the winningest coach in Iowa girls basketball history. Klinge’s Waukon team lost in the 3A finals last year to Our Town’s Bishop Heelan.

Crystal ball

Over the years, a fun part of the girls state tourney is picking winners.

So, since it is just about showtime, on with the show of etching evental winners in stone.

Class 1A is so cut and dried.

No.1-ranked Martendale-St. Mary’s will beat unranked Newell-Fonda in the first round and trip No. 6 North Mahaska in the finals. No. 9 Lynnville-Sully will upset second-ranked Ar-We-Va in the first round, then lose to nearby rival New Sharon North Mahaska in the semis.

Martensdale-St. Mary’s will have to beat No. 5 Britt West Hancock in a semi. Britt’s the first-round choice over No. 7 Bedford and the other unranked qualifier, Bellevue Marquette will fall to North Mahaska Monday.

Class 2A is a no-brainer. After No. 1 OA-BCIG (that’s Odebolt, Arthur, Battle Creek and Ida Grove combined) beats IKM-Manning (that’s Irwin, Kirkman, Manilla and Manning combned), No. 4 Mount Ayr will fall in the semis and Siouxland will have a state champ when No. 2 Roland-Story tumbles in a classic final.

Which means Mount Ayr beats Monticello, Roland-Story beats West Fork, Pella Christian beats Estherville-Lincoln Central and Christian loses to Roland-Story.

Time for 3A.

Tough choice, but tourney-tested Davenport Assumption will beat Sergeant Bluff-Luton and No. 1 Huxley Ballard trims South Tama, unbeaten MOC-Floyd Valley tops DeWitt Central and Mount Vernon turns back Benton Community in other first-round tussles.

Then there’s Ballard over Assumption and MOC-FV over Mount Vernon in the semis and the stunner, MOC-FV, which should have beaten Carroll in a final several years ago (that’s another story) takes the measure of Ballard. And, voila, another Siouxland champ.

This year in 4A. Ah, who cares. Our Town isn’t there.

It’ll be a stretch to cheer for Waukee as the Western Iowa representative in the field.

I like upsets so, it is Cedar Rapids Washington over Iowa City West, Ankeny over Linn-Mar, Mason City over Southeast Polk and Waukee will be hard-pressed to beat No. 1 Des Moines East.

Also, Ankeny over Washington, East over Mason City in semis and in the Polk County finals (isn’t that usually the case?), Ankeny over East.

Some numbers

The boring pro football scouting combine, a tribute to the marketing genius of the National Football League and television dough, is overflowing at site of the darn thing in Indianapolis. No less than 715 official credentials were issued for the event this year. In 1992, six credentials requests were honored ... Harvard hasn’t qualified for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament since 1946, that’s a 65-year drought. But, the Crimson lead the Ivy League so things may change ... Three. That’s the number of clubs in the 16-team United States Hockey League with fewer points than the Sioux City Musketeers, who had won 19 games this season and lost 26 in accumulating 43 points going into a Saturday game at Tri-City.

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