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SAN ANTONIO, Texas — The Texas high school girls basketball season enters its final chapter this weekend, as the UIL’s 2022 Girls Basketball State Tournaments tip off at the Alamodome.

SBLive Texas will preview all the action ahead by breaking down the battle for six state championship trophies and analyzing each of the 24 teams left in contention before semifinal matchups begin Thursday and Friday.

Below is a closer look at the four remaining contenders — Ackerly Sands, Huckabay, Neches and Robert Lee — in the UIL’s Class 1A Girls Basketball State Tournament including game times, players to watch, keys to victory and how each team advanced to state.

(Featured photo by Tommy Hays)

STATE SEMIFINAL MATCHUPS:

Robert Lee (34-2) vs. Neches (30-6), 8:30 a.m. Thursday at the Alamodome in San Antonio

Ackerly Sands (35-3) vs. Huckabay (35-6), 10 a.m. Thursday at the Alamodome in San Antonio

1A State Championship Game:

Robert Lee/Neches vs. Ackerly Sands/Huckabay, 8:30 a.m. Saturday at the Alamodome in San Antonio

RELATED: 2022 Texas High School Girls Basketball Playoffs — 1A State Tournament Bracket

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Robert Lee Steers

Region II champions, 1st seed in District 11-1A

34-2 overall, 10-0 district record

HOW THEY GOT HERE:

Bi-District — W 68-22 vs. Santa Anna

Area — W 78-40 vs. Rankin

Regional Quarters — W 38-29 vs. Veribest

Regional Semis — W 61-53 vs. Highland

Regional Finals — W 53-50 vs. Hermleigh

LAST STATE TOURNAMENT APPEARANCE (TOTAL):

1978 (two)

DISTANCE TO ALAMODOME:

242 miles

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Senior G Braylee Hood; Senior F/C Paige Immel; Sophomore F/C Kailey Freeman

KEYS TO VICTORY:

The Steers are looking to win their program’s second state title after reaching the 1A state tournament for the first time in almost half a century. A senior-laden roster should give Robert Lee a pivotal edge with an experienced group of seniors leading the way. The speedy backcourt combo of Braylee Hood and McKenzee Puentez with 5-foot-11 forward Paige Immel highlight a stout defensive unit. The Steers have limited their playoff opponents to 38.8 points per game defensively and enter the state semifinals in the midst of a 22-game winning streak. That defensive prowess, coupled with the team’s recent hot streak, should help the Steers dictate pace on defense against younger opposing teams. If sophomore forward Kailey Freeman can continue her breakout postseason and give her squad another reliable scoring option, it could propel the Steers to their first state championship in 44 years.

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Neches Tigers

Region IV champions, 1st seed in District 27-1A

30-6 overall, 9-1 district record

HOW THEY GOT HERE:

Bi-District — W 89-15 vs. Goodrich

Area — W 62-32 vs. Hubbard

Regional Quarters — W 36-30 vs. Chireno

Regional Semis — W 49-41 vs. McMullen County

Regional Finals — W 65-34 vs. Fayetteville

LAST STATE TOURNAMENT APPEARANCE (TOTAL):

2021 (10)

DISTANCE TO ALAMODOME:

267 miles

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Freshman G Joely Jenkins; Freshman G/F Audrey Kincade; Freshman F Sealy Hines

KEYS TO VICTORY:

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Neches ended a near-decade state tournament drought last season, reaching the state semifinal for the sixth time since 2009, but faltered in the semis. The Tigers lost four of five starters from that regional championship squad last year, but instead of rebuilding they’ve reloaded. One of the state’s deepest rosters in 1A and a star-studded freshman class have helped keep Neches at the top. The Tigers’ lineup boasts four elite freshmen: guard Joely Jenkins, wing Audrey Kincade, forward Sealy Hines and center Kacie Trimble. All four have logged standout performances at different points throughout their postseason debut. Jenkins led the way with 33 points in the team’s bi-district round win, as the Tigers walloped Goodrich 89-15. Then in a 30-point area round victory, Kincade tallied her first career playoff double double with 10 points, 12 assists and four rebounds. Neches is one of the youngest teams at any classification level to reach the state tournament this year with seven combined freshmen and sophomores. The Tigers will need to strike a balance between their outside shooting and interior presence offensively, and work to limit extended runs on the defensive end against veteran-savvy squads.

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Ackerly Sands Mustangs

Region I champions, 1st seed in District 8-1A

36-3 overall, 10-0 district record

HOW THEY GOT HERE:

Bi-District — W 64-9 vs. Whitharral

Area — W 55-32 vs. Spur

Regional Quarters — W 56-27 vs. Whiteface

Regional Semis — W 46-28 vs. Nazareth

Regional Finals — W 42-31 vs. Turkey Valley

LAST STATE TOURNAMENT APPEARANCE (TOTAL):

1961 (two)

DISTANCE TO ALAMODOME:

329 miles

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Senior G Lili Porras; Junior G Elysa Martinez; Senior G/F Landry Morrow

KEYS TO VICTORY:

Sands joins Robert Lee in making a long-awaited return to the state tournament. The last time the Mustangs took the court for a state semifinal game was more than six decades ago. After a lengthy absence, though, the team enters the 2022 state tournament as a heavyweight again. The Mustangs have delivered one dominant defensive performance after another throughout the postseason after steamrolling through district play. Sands was the only team in any classification level that held its opponents to less than 35 points per game through the first five rounds of the playoffs. That defensive edge has been thanks in large part to the Mustangs’ speed, particularly in the backcourt. Senior guard Lili Porras, junior guard Elysa Martinez and senior wing Landry Morrow helped lead Sands to a team track and field state title last spring. The trio’s athleticism has translated well to the hardwood this season with the Mustangs’ only losses coming against Class 3A Canadian and Class 2A Sudan and Martin’s Mill, which also clinched a state tournament berth. If Sands can use that collective quickness to apply full-court pressure defensively and disrupt their opponents’ offensive rhythm, it should create several fastbreak opportunities for Martinez, Morrow, Porras and others to control the tempo.

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Huckabay Indians

Region III champions, 1st seed in District 19-1A

35-5 overall, 12-0 district record

HOW THEY GOT HERE:

Bi-District — W 70-10 vs. Covington

Area — W 63-15 vs. Cherokee

Regional Quarters — W 68-38 vs. Gordon

Regional Semis — W 39-35 vs. Dodd City

Regional Finals — W 52-42 vs. Richland Springs

LAST STATE TOURNAMENT APPEARANCE (TOTAL):

2006 (three)

DISTANCE TO ALAMODOME:

217 miles

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Senior G Alana Burney; Senior F Tiffany Meador; Junior C Gracie McDowell

KEYS TO VICTORY:

Huckabay has been one of the state’s most dominant teams en route to the 1A state semifinals. The Indians have outscored their opposition by 957 combined points in 40 games, cementing themselves as one of the state’s most balanced teams. Guard Alana Burney and forward Tiffany Meador, the team’s two lone seniors, have set high standards for the squad during a late-season run that has featured 16 wins in its last 17 contests. Junior Gracie McDowell has also proven to be a versatile playmaker and helped secure the low post defensively for Huckabay. The Indians, however, will need to place particular emphasis on its approach offensively with some of the stingiest defenses around the state lining the remaining road to the 1A state crown. Some offensive hiccups nearly ended Huckabay’s season in the fourth round, but the squad rallied to erase a 10-point deficit and win by four in the regional semifinals. If the Indians can replicate their early-round success on the offensive end, then their offensive firepower might be enough to propel them back into the state championship game for the first time in decades.

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More of SBLive’s 2022 Texas High School Girls Basketball State Tournament coverage:

Class 6A State Tournament bracket | Class 5A State Tournament bracket

Class 4A State Tournament bracket | Class 3A State Tournament bracket

Class 2A State Tournament bracket

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