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Closing the Year with Winter Sports

Being a rabid Lehigh sports fan during the holidays can be challenging, especially if you want to have any semblance of a normal home life. With time off my day job to celebrate Christmas - and dealing with the inevitable down-time that is necessary after a grueling four months of football coverage - covering all the goings-on foe Lehigh's winter sports, the final awards for Lehigh's football team and commentary on the wider football world is surprisingly tough, sometimes, to cover.

(Add to that the the success this year of the NFL's Eagles and Saints, the Red Sox getting John Lackey and probably losing Jason Bay, and there's more opinions I have than time to post.)

Add to that the fact that it's a different world from last with Facebook and Twitter entering the mainstream and the increasing expectation that they are a robust, often-updated tools for fans to use.

For the football fan, tomorrow will probably provide a Lehigh mention on ESPN during their broadcast of the the Humanitarian Bowl, as former Lehigh assistant coach Dave Clawson, now head coach of the Bowling Green Falcons, returns to play Idaho for the first time since Lehigh's 77-14 drubbing in Moscow, ID in 1993. They'll be playing at Boise State this time (yes, outdoors on the "blue carpet"), but it might be worth a look-see.

But before closing the year with football awards, Patriot League football goings-on and maybe more on Hofstra and Northeastern's pulling the plug on football, there's a lot going on this week at Lehigh with the winter sports teams that is worthy of coverage - including the continuation of the amazing run of the women's basketball team.

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The Lady hawks kicked off the 13th "Christmas City Classic" by walloping Wagner 69-43, winning their fifth straight game and increasing their home court winning streak to 23 games. Junior F Courtney Dentler was the big star of the opening game, with a double/double (12 points, 10 rebounds) while junior G Erica Prosser and senior G Alex Ross continued their torrid scoring with 16 points apiece. Impressively, they also forced 28 turnovers.

“We had a little bit of a sluggish start,” head coach Sue Troyan said. “We were trading baskets with them and playing at their pace, but I thought we did a good job of picking up the tempo in the second half. Erica (Prosser) was a big reason we were able to pick up the pace and our ability to convert turnovers into offensive opportunities helped.”

The Christmas City Classic, the in-season tournament held at Stabler Arena for the past thirteen years, has given the Lady Hawks some very good competition in years past to test them before the Patriot League season gets under way. This year, the Lady Hawks will meet in the finals what should be a real threat to break their home winning streak: 12-1 St. Bonaventure.

Why? Well, start with the fact that their only loss was to Big 10 power Michigan State (and only 67-59, at that). Second, add to the fact that they've outscored their opponents by an average of 18 points. (Yes, on average 18 points, including future Lady Hawks opponents Akron (67-37) and Lafayette (58-38)). Finally, they are a multiple scoring threat with powerhouse frontcourt players like sophomore F Megan Van Tatenhove (12.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg) and senior F Dana Mitchell (16.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg) to go with sophomore G Jessica Jenkins (12.5 ppg). Lehigh's best chance to win this game has to involve clamping down on Jenkins and forcing turnovers - and hoping that Prosser and Ross can keep up their great outside shooting.

It should be a fantastic game tomorrow at Stabler with a 4:30 tipoff - and if you can't be there in person, you can catch the action on Yahoo! Broadcast.

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While your TV is tuned into ESPN and your computer hooked up with Yahoo! Broadcast, your Wednesday viewing wouldn't be complete with a view of the Lehigh men's basketball team's trip to Dover, DE to face the Hornets on Wednesday evening. (You'll have to enjoy the radio feed, on Yahoo! Broadcast, with Matt Kerr bringing the action.)

The 6-6 Mountain Hawks have won their last two to claw back to .500, beating Marist 66-55 and dominating Longwood 89-71 in their last two outings. Both wins come on the heels of senior F Zahir Carrington's return from injury, and the 89 points against Longwood was aided by the performance on junior G Rob Keefer's 21 point outburst. In both games, Carrington got double-doubles, showing how the Mountain Hawks are helped by his rebounding abilities.

If the men's and women's basketball teams get some big wins tomorrow, it will set up an awesome weekend on Saturday January 2nd. The Lady Hawks will host Akron at 5pm, while the men's basketball team will host NJIT at 7:30. I'm hoping to bring the family to this doubleheader - and a double win on Wednesday will help my case with my wife.

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Lest I forget the grapplers, sophomore heavyweight Zach Rey is still alive at the 47th Midlands Championships, taking place at Evanston, IL (Northwestern). Rey, the tournament’s No. 2 seed, won a 5-2 decision over Rutgers’ seventh seeded D.J. Russo to move into the semifinals, where he will face the No. 3 seed, David Zabriskie of Iowa State on Wednesday.

Four quarterfinalists lost to wrestlers from Big 10 wrestling power Iowa, but are still alive in the consolation rounds: senior 133 lb Matt Fisk, senior 141 lb Seth Ciasulli, senior 165 lb Matt Galante, freshman 174 lb Robert Hamlin, and sophomore 197 lb Joe Kennedy. Galante and Rey will be facing two high-powered wrestlers from Iowa State tomorrow in their quests for the podium - and Rey's quest for the championship.

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