Nazareth and Dodd City meet for the fourth time in five years in the UIL Class 1A state championship at 10 a.m. Wednesday morning in San Antonio. [Graphic by Brent Seals/ Photos by Mackenzie Gerber & Matt Smith/ Press Pass Sports]
Though separated by 375 miles, and a completely different region, don’t think Nazareth and Dodd City are complete strangers by any means.
They may as well be district rivals by this point.
When the Swiftettes take the floor against the Lady Hornets in the University Interscholastic League Class 1A state championship at 10 a.m. Wednesday morning in San Antonio’s Alamodome, it will mark the fourth time in the past five years that these two powerful basketball schools have matched up.
“Dodd City is a great program,” Nazareth head coach Eric Schilling said. “We are very familiar with what they do after seeing them four of the last five years. They have seniors we saw as freshman and sophomores. I have a ton of respect for them.”
Dodd City head coach Alex Stephenson agreed with Schilling.
“First off, we have nothing but respect for Nazareth,” said Stephenson, who is in eighth year as the head coach of the Lady Hornets. “They get down to state every year. It’s gotten to the point where you win, you know you’re going to get Nazareth in the finals. But as for this game this year, we are very familiar with this team, and I guess you can call it a rivalry now.”
Nazareth – a team making its 30th state championship appearance, looking for its unprecedented 25th state championship in school history, and fifth in a row – has had the upper-hand in four total meetings with Dodd City in state title games.
The Swiftettes defeated the Lady Hornets, 52-33 in 2019, won handily in 2018, 56-43, and held off Dodd City off in 2017, 48-42. Even when the Lady Hornets made their first ever state appearance in 2002, it was Nazareth that beat them, 67-42.
Previous state championship meetings
2019: Nazareth 52, Dodd City 33
2018: Nazareth 56, Dodd City, 43
2017: Nazareth 48, Dodd City 42
2002: Nazareth 67, Dodd City 42
“Nazareth’s longevity of excellence is what makes them unbelievable,” Stephenson said. “But they do it in such a humble manor. They are a very down to earth program, and they do it all the right way. What they do is remarkable.”
For Nazareth (26-4 overall) to win that fifth straight state championship, and continue one of the most dominate dynasties in the nation at any level, they’ll have to beat may be the best Dodd City team they’ve faced yet.
The Lady Hornets have been the No. 1-ranked team all season in Class 1A going unbeaten to this point at 31-0. Dodd City is packed with experience in 6-foot-3 senior post Journie Hilliard (13 points, 12 rebounds a game) and senior guard Danni Baccus (13 ppg, eight assist per game. Sophomore Rion Baccus, the younger sister of Rion, is another a key weapon averaging a team-high 24 points a game.
“This Dodd City team is very athletic,” Schilling said. “The Hilliard girl has gotten so much better on the inside. She’s learned how to use her strength, and she’s a great defender. The Baccus sisters can score in multiple ways. This will be the two best teams battling for it all”
While Dodd City brought back veterans, the Swiftettes lost quite a bit from last season’s championship team including four-year starter and All-State forward Cambrie Heiman. However, senior Emma Kleman and junior Addie Dyer have filled the void nicely to help keep the tradition alive.
“We knew we were losing a special group last year,” Schilling said. “But we also had players returning that were overlooked. Emma Kleman is a three-year starter. She’s a great player. We have a lot of players that have been in this position. They played key minutes last year, but after learning from the seniors ahead of them, they’ve made a smooth transition.”
UIL Girls state championships
at Alamodome, San Antonio
Class 1A state championship
Nazareth (26-4) vs. Dodd City (31-0), 10 a.m.
Class 3A state championship
Brownfield (28-1) vs. Fairfield (27-2), 2 p.m.
Frisco Liberty (22-8) vs. Cedar Park (24-1), 7 p.m.
Class 2A state championship
Lipan (24-3) vs. Martins Mill (25-3), 10 a.m.
Class 4A state championship
Canyon (30-1) vs. Hardin-Jefferson (30-0), 2 p.m.
Class 6A state championship
Desoto (27-2) vs. Cypress Creek (32-0), 7 p.m.