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Meanwhile in Oz: Whoever gets hottest will win state
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Just saying it can raise goosebumps up and down your spine.

The Cheesemakers girls basketball team will step onto the big stage at the Resch Center in Green Bay to play in the WIAA Division 2 state semifinals Friday.

In the first Division 2 game, Hortonville (20-5) will play Cudahy (19-7). Monroe (21-3) will face Beaver Dam (26-0) at 3:15 p.m. The two teams left standing after Friday will advance to the title game scheduled for 6:35 p.m. Saturday.

In case you hadn't heard, school in Monroe is already canceled on Friday.

There's a ball game to watch in Green Bay. The place where people wear wedges of cheese on their heads to support the Packers will be invaded by the city that knows what cheese is all about.

Historically, the Monroe girls have done well at state, winning the gold ball in 1989 (27-0), 2006 (23-3) and 2008 (22-5). The girls earned silver balls in 1988 (24-3) and 2000 (23-4).

The girls trip to state is happening on the heels of Monroe's bowling team coming home to the sound of sirens of the city's fire engines as the Cheesemakers won the state bowling crown in Division 2 Sunday. The city is incredibly proud of the Monroe bowlers, who beat top-seeded Peshtigo 386-382 in Wauwatosa. Monroe has earned a berth in the last five state bowling tournaments. What an incredible milestone.

A much less dense and more resilient sphere will be midcourt at the Resch Center. The ball will be carried by some of the finest girl athletes in the state. On the court you'll see incredible long-range shooting, pin-point passes and razor-sharp defense.

The records leading up to the state tournament no longer matter. The whole thing is about how you play in the next game. It's true for all four semifinalists. The ultimate winner needs to win back-to-back. There will be plenty of talent on display, but who gets the hottest - and who is aided by luck - usually carries home the championship trophy.

Look at Saturday's sectional final, in which the Monroe girls defeated a skilled Milton squad for the third time this season. The Red Hawks led by four points over the Cheesemakers midway through the first half.

Good basketball teams can put a hurt on their opponent in a hurry. That's just what Monroe did. The Cheesemakers deflated Milton to take an 11-point lead at halftime. Monroe then blew the doors off the gym at Middleton, where the sectional was held, and earned the sectional title 72-49.

After sectionals comes a week when each semifinalists prepares for state. There's the pride. The support of the community. A tremendous grass-roots tsunami of anticipation builds. Then four teams go to their destiny. Only one can be the champion. Three others return home with important, yet lesser, prizes.

The team that keeps its cool, does the little things right, gets hot and lucky. That's who's going to win state. It's a combination of things and it can only be done by individuals coming together as a team.

Our best to the Cheesemakers.

- Matt Johnson is publisher of the Monroe Times. His column is published Wednesdays.