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Morton: Monroe faithful and the gospel of Badger hoops
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I don't suggest that we should have prayed yesterday for good things to come to the Badgers basketball team tonight - only because I'm not so sure it needs it. Other-wise, I would have kneeled until my Dockers bled.

Just kidding. Besides, Easter Sunday is all about the rising of Christ, not the rising of Kaminsky.

It was nice to see that Sunday's service at Grace Lutheran Church here in town didn't require any inappropriate University of Wisconsin hoops references or analogies. As someone who lived in Green Bay during the back-to-back Super Bowl 1990s, I know that isn't always easy. I can't tell you how many times I had to hear about Lambeau Leaps of Faith or the Book According to Brett or the Reverend Reggie. And believe you me, no service ran past one second past 11:30 a.m.

Then again, sports and religious connotations do have a history.

You had the Pittsburgh Steelers and Franco Harris' "Immaculate Reception" of 1972, the Oakland Raiders and Dave Casper's "Holy Roller" of 1978 and Boston College and Doug Flutie's "Hail Mary" of 1984 was one of many of its kind.

As for Easter and sports, there will indeed always be a connection for me. Rewind to 1987, when I was a traveling national fraternity field rep - yes, such a job existed and was apparently survivable - and the Milwaukee Brewers were off to an 11-0 start. It was Easter Sunday, and I scooted up from Chicago (after church) to County Stadium and watched the famous home runs against Texas by Rob Deer in the ninth to tie it and Dale Sveum in the 10th to win it as the team made it to 12-0.

The next night, at the old Comiskey Park in Chicago, I was on hand to witness the team to go 13-0 and tie a Major League Baseball record.

The ticket stubs to both games remain in my scrapbook.

OK, fast forward to tonight. Regarding the NCAA basketball title game in Indianapolis, where I'll be on hand adding another stub to the collection, Monroe overall is being well represented.

It starts with retired Monroe Middle School teacher Loren Homb, who is so dedicated to the Badgers that he made the trip to Indy for the team's practice on Friday.

It almost paid off, however, as he was approached in the stadium, while minding his own business, and asked to participate in a college-basketball trivia contest against a Duke contestant - on the Jumbotron.

"How they picked me out of the 10,000 to 15,000 fans is beyond me," Homb said.

He would miss all three questions against a female Duke fan - and walk off with a Final Four back pack of goodies.

She won the same, plus a cell phone, so no big whoop.

And the event was caught by a Madison cameraman and posted on

Meanwhile, a man lost a shooting contest to a woman minutes later - and he couldn't even make a layup, Homb reports - and both received Final Four tickets.

"I guess I got the wrong contest," he said.

And Homb has taken a big of good-natured grief for it.

"I had people in the concourse asking for my autograph, saying "Hey, that's the Jumbotron guy,'" he said. "You know, smart alecks.

"I can't believe how this is blowing up - thanks, social media."

Then he had sympathetic UW fans tell him they were happy to lose the trivia questions as long as the Badgers won the game.

Better yet, Homb not only had a great time but found himself sitting in front of Bryan Tordoff, a former student, who he hadn't seen for years.

"Again, what are the odds of that?" Homb asked.

Meanwhile, Monroe's John Baumann is there for the games and has seen a handful of locals on the scene: Jim Ruf, Greg and Penny Fedders and John and Mary Robertson to name a few.

"It's always great to see familiar faces - it creates an immediate bond," said Baumann, who is enjoying the games with his wife, Katie Doyle-Baumann.

Then there's Baumann's posse - we'll call them the Monroe Traveling Six Pack. It's the Baumanns along with Don and Joan Hughes and Mike and Shelley Muranyi.

Last weekend, they took a limo from Palm Springs to downtown Los Angeles for the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight games, and now that they're good-luck charms they had to keep going to Indy.

Saturday's semifinal win over unbeaten Kentucky - the team consisting of the one-and-done All-Americans - was especially sweet for the Hughes couple.

"We were surrounded by UK fans and it was amazing to see the look of shock on their faces," said Don Hughes, who noted many walked around in hats that prematurely read "40-0."

As for the Muranyis, the after-game party at the team hotel was memorable.

"As crazy as the game was, the hotel was even crazier - as crazy as anything I've ever seen," Mike Muranyi said, through his strained voice, in regard to the players' return. "It was a mob scene."

As for John Baumann, he is a believer that tonight will be the night, and the UW will be able to handle the heat.

"I heard someone say, "Pressure either cracks pipes or makes diamonds.' I like that expression," he said. "And this team - these are classy people, good students, good guys. It's a team you can be proud of."

Indeed, it is now America's Team. Can we even say it is God's Team? After all, isn't tonight's opponent the Duke Blue Devils?

I say Duke doesn't have a prayer. Amen.