State Finals team Badminton

Perry's Jillian Lagasca returns an over the shoulder shot to her Xavier opponent at Sunnyslope High School in Phoenix

By JEREMY SCHNELL

PHOENIX- The East Valley had two chances of winning a state badminton titles on Thursday.

History will have to wait.

Perry was in line to win the school’s first state title in any sport, while Mesquite had the chance to win the first team title for any girls program.

Both came up short in tough, drawn-out battles that have gone either way, but left the two area teams settling for state runner-up status.

The Pumas, which earned the second seed after going 13-1 in the regular season, fell 5-4 to No. 1 Xavier in the Division championship match at Sunnyslope High. The Wildcats, who were the No. 1 seed in DII, dropped their match to Sunnyslope.

Xavier came out of the first three matches with two victories. Perry then came storming back with two straight wins. Perry led 3-2 with one match to go before doubles. Xavier’s Maddie Reinhart won the sixth singles match for Xavier making it 3-3 going into doubles.

Doubles started and Perry had a couple of nail biters, but Xavier would close it out to become state champions for the fourth year in a row with a victory by Emily Woodrow and Annie Kamps.

“We knew that it was going to be a tough matchup against Perry,” said coach Susan Contreras. “We played them two times before this so it's really tough to beat a team three times in one year, I’m just really glad we could pull it out.”

Mesquite, who topped Sunnyslope in the regular season, started off fast with two victories from Natalie Weber and Rebecca Farias to go up 2-1. Then Sunnyslope took complete control with wins by Jennifer Drotzmann, Allie Rampy and Claire Pishko to put Sunnyslope ahead 4-2.

Sunnyslope had a really tough time putting Mesquite away. Mesquite came out firing winning the first two matches of doubles.

It all came down to one last match.

The match went three sets and even when the girls were losing throughout those sets the fans were electric.

Jennifer Drotzman and Emma Johnson went on a roll at the end to close it out for Sunnyslope and win the state championship as the fans rushed the court.

“I’m so happy for the girls especially for the seniors,” said Sunnyslope coach Sarah Schlesinger, who has won state championships both as a coach and an athlete.

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