Their head coach has become an instant celebrity and even the four-day-old infants are donning blue and gold.
It’s a good time to be a Lipan Lady?Indian.
Lipan made widespread news last weekend by using a 21-2 run over the final five minutes to erase a 15-point deficit and defeat Newcastle 45-41 in a regional championship game at Moody Coliseum in Abilene.
They made even more news because their head coach, Amber Branson, gave birth between Friday’s 57-30 regional semifinal defeat of Roby and Saturday’s championship.
But after answering questions about her newborn daughter Monday, Branson, who was on the bench for Saturday’s game, quickly steered reporters’ attention to her basketball team, the fourth in Lipan girls’ history to reach the UIL State Championship.
The Lady Indians face Neches at 2 p.m. Friday in the semifinals with the winner meeting either Knippa or Whitharral in Saturday’s state championship game, all at the University of Texas’ Frank Erwin Center in Austin.
“These girls are awesome, from everything they have gone through to the great job they did in Abilene last weekend,” said Branson. “This is a great accomplishment and they’ve worked very hard for it.”
Sophomore Rhiana Michou says going to the state tournament is a dream come true.
“A couple years ago when I was an eighth grader and (junior Zully Martinez) was a freshman, my dad took us to the state tournament and it was awesome,” said Michou. “We said right then that we were going to get there. It’s been our dream ever since.”
Martinez has a full appreciation for what the Lady Indians have achieved.
“We didn’t even make the playoffs last year,” she said. “It’s a big accomplishment to make it this far.”
Branson played for a Lipan team that went to state in 1995, the year she graduated from LHS. The Lady Indians also went to state in 1953 and 2003, but have never won the championship.
“To get to do this here in the community where I?grew up and have always been a part of is very special,” said Branson. “I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
A new state semifinalist banner will soon be hung in Lipan’s gymnasium. If Branson’s team has its way in Austin Friday and Saturday, it will be a bigger banner than those already hanging from the rafters, and the verbage will be different as well.
It would read something like: “Lipan Lady Indians, 2010-11 Class A Division II State Champions.”