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SIOUX CITY – Twas the night as well as the day before Christmas.

And not many Siouxland athletic creatures were stirring.

That’s not to believe a dedicated gymologist in the fashion of a young Kirk Hinrich might not be hanging around in the solace of an empty field house in the hinterlands knowing that St. Nicholas might arrive sooner or later with an eventual ticket to the National Basketball Association.

Still, the bye week has had its moments of out with old and in with the new.

#Ray Lemek: 1952 graduate of Bishop Heelan; team captain and primary line blocker for quarterback Paul Hornung on the 8-2 Notre Dame football team in 1955; All-Pro offensive tackle for the Washington Redskinz in 1971; was born in Sioux City on June 28, 1934.

Dave “Beauty’’ Bancroft: slick fielding shortstop on New York Giants World Series championship teams in 1921 and 1922; 2,004 Major League career hits ; inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971; born in Sioux City on April 20, 1891.

John Harty: Bishop Heelan graduate; second round pick of the San Francisco 49ers out of the University of Iowa in 1981; two-time Super Bowl champion (XVI, XIX) with 49ers; born in Sioux City Dec. 17, 1958.

Just sayin’.

#Don’t you just love that phraseology media folks who report on the Recruiting Game gleefully use when their team “beat’’ somebody else for the services of an athlete.

What comes to mind is that the University of Iowa beat out Luther College for the talents Josey Jewell, the best linebacker in the FBS and NCAA Division III had that been the Decorah High product’s fate.

#So the crowd at the Sanford Pentagon Friday night in Sioux Falls matching Colorado and Iowa in men’s basketball was a capacity 3,200 give or take a few.

There’s a basketball arena here in Our Town that can accommodate a gathering for basketball of 7,000 give or take a few.

Iowa trimmed the Buffs 80-73.

Iowa’s most memorable game with Colorado came in the 1954 Final Four in Kansas City when the Hawkeyes, after losing a 76-73 nail-biter to defending NCAA champ LaSalle, dropped a 75-54 decision to the Buffalos in the third-place game.

#Elle Ruffridge, Iowa’s Miss Basketball last season after leading her Pocahontas Area team to the Class 3A state title, has played in all 11 games as a true freshman this season at Division I Missouri State.

The 5-foot-3 dynamo, Iowa’s all-time five-player scoring leader, has scored 41 points for the 4-7 Bears.

#One of Iowa’s all-time great teams will be honored next March in the Iowa Girls State Tournament.

The Union-Whitten club led by legendary forward Denise Long is the 50-year honor team that will be recognized by the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union.

In the title game in 1968, U-W outgunned Siouxland power Everly 113-107 in overtime. In that game, Long, considered by some to be the patron saint of the near-religious institution of six-player girls basketball in Iowa, scored 64 points.

She finished her career with 6,250 points, then an all-time Iowa best, averaging 68.5 points as a senior.

In the never-to-be-forgotten ’68 final, after Long tallied 93 points in an earlier tourney contest, she was outscored in the final by Everly’s Jeannettte Olson with 76.

Two years ago, Olson’s Everly team was the 50-year honor squad for defeating Lake City in the finals.

#Provincial as they may seem, the picks here are to dress up Iowa as the winner over Boston in the Pinstripe Bowl in Yankee Stadium and yes, give me Iowa State over Memphis in the Liberty Bowl.

#The University of Central Florida will see its unbeaten mark of 12 wins spoiled by Auburn in the upcoming Peach Bowl, but even with new Nebraska Coach Scott Frost getting all the plaudits for the UCF success it was another Florida school with even more dramatic results.

In just its second season of intercollegiate football, the University of West Florida rolled to the NCAA Division II national title game where Texas A&M Commerce finally ended a truer Cinderella Story.

#As expected the college football bowl games have been absolutely delightful, one and all.


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