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Argonauts Again Stop Villa Park


The atmosphere was more like a championship game than a semifinal when Garden Grove and Villa Park, both unbeaten, met in the Southern Section Division I badminton playoffs Thursday at Garden Grove.

A throng of Garden Grove players, coaches, teachers and former players who packed the gym erupted in cheers and tears of joy when the Argonauts clinched a 10-9 victory to earn a berth in Tuesday's championship game against the winner of top-seeded Alhambra's semifinal against Cerritos.

"This was it," Garden Grove Coach Prat Mallawong said. "I told Sherry [Smith, the Villa Park coach] before the match that whoever won this was going to win it all."

The second-seeded Argonauts (16-0) have handed Villa Park (14-1) its only two losses the last two seasons, including a 10-9 victory in last year's championship match.

With the score tied, 8-8, and each school heavily favored to win one of the two remaining girls' doubles matches, Garden Grove needed a victory from its No. 2 boys' doubles, Nguyen Tran and Hoang Nguyen.

Tran and Nguyen fell, 15-7, in the first game to Villa Park's Scott Bering and Jerry Bai, and trailed, 10-8, in the second before running off seven points in a row to even the match. They battled through several match points in the third game before Tran's slam clinched a 17-15 victory.

Minutes later, Garden Grove's Khoalinh Luong and Le Phan closed out a 15-2, 15-3 victory over Jane Woo and Helena Bui in girls' doubles, and the Argonauts had gained the final.

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