The Nazareth Swiftettes basketball program has won a national public school record 23 UIL state championships dating back to 1976. [Kale Steed/ Press Pass Sports]Nazareth is back in very familiar territory when the No. 1- ranked Swiftettes open the UIL Class 1A state girls basketball tournament against Veribest in a semifinal at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
Nazareth has built decades of dynasties dating back to the girls program first state title in 1976.
Since winning that first title, Nazareth (29-8 overall this season) has gone on to claim an unprecedented 23 UIL state championships, a national public school record, and will gun for a 24th championship in what will now be its 29th appearance at the state tournament.
As of late, the Nazareth dynasty has been electric under head coach and Nazareth graduate Eric Schilling. The Swiftettes have won three straight Class 1A state titles and five of the last six.
“It never gets old to us,” said Schilling, who is a remarkable 281-52 in nine seasons at Nazareth. “It still feels like the first time. The last thing I want or these girls want is watch someone else win it all. So there’s never a sense of satisfaction.”
Senior April Schmucker has been a part of the Swiftettes past two state championships as a sophomore and junior. Getting a third straight trip to state, Schmucker agrees with her head coach. It’s a feeling that never gets old.
“It’s exciting every time you get to go to state,” Schmucker said. “Every experience is different, it’s never the same. You have a different team each year, you play different teams, it’s a blast.”
Nazareth celebrates after winning its seventh straight Region I-A Tournament title last Saturday against New Home in Levelland. [Keirstyn Kelley/ Press Pass Sports]
As much as Schilling loves seeing the banners added to the wall in the gym, what really drives the coach is watching his team put in the work.
“The most rewarding part for me is seeing the success for these girls,” Schilling said. “I love it for the ones who have won it before and the ones who win it for the first time. I see how hard they all work, and that drives me. Every year we talk about starting over, and being the best we can, and these girls take it to heart.”
Leading Schilling’s team is one of the best to ever wear a Nazareth uniform in senior Cambire Heiman. Heiman, the reigning Texas Six-man Player of the Year in 2019, has played a significant role during the Swiftettes last three state championships. The senior has been a staple, playing in 140 games, scoring over 2,300 points and has the ultimate opportunity to end her storied career as a four-time state champion.
“It’s a lot of pressure,” said Heiman, a Lubbock Christian signee. “When you win three, people are obviously going to expect you to win the fourth one. It’s also exciting because we realize that most teams don’t even get to experience it one time. I’m just going to take it all in and enjoy the best I can.”
If Nazareth beats Veribest (27-10) on Thursday, the Swiftettes will play the Lipan-Chireno winner for the Class 1A state title at 8:30 a.m. Saturday.
Class 1A UIL state tournament
Thursday’s state semifinals
Lipan (33-3) vs. Chireno (27-9), 8:30 a.m.
Nazareth (29-8) vs. Veribest (27-10), 10 a.m.
Saturday’s state championship