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Coach Branson delivers inspiration, baby girl

Amber (Tate) Branson captained the 1998-99 ACU women's team
Amber (Tate ’99) Branson delivered in many clutch situations for her team in Moody Coliseum while competing as a member of Abilene Christian University’s women’s basketball team in 1997-98 and 1998-99.
None, however, eclipsed what she did in Abilene Feb. 25.
The head girls basketball coach for tiny Lipan High School, she directed her team to a semifinal win over Roby in the Region II-1A Division II tournament in Moody, then gave birth that evening to 8-pound, 7-ounce Leslie Telese Branson in Abilene Regional Medical Center.
Amazingly, she was back on the sideline the next afternoon as the Lady Indians won the title and the right to play in the state tourney in Austin this past week. A report on ESPN’s “First Take” recounts the story.
Little Leslie may have arrived nine days early, but her mother’s hometown team performed on cue with their coach beside them again in the regional final. They didn’t have to look far for inspiration to bounce back. The Lady Indians rallied from a big early deficit, putting together a 21-2 run that gave them a 45-41 win over Newcastle and the trip to Austin.

Branson transferred to ACU after lettering two years at Texas Tech University, where she earned academic all-Big 12 Conference honors. She grew up in Lipan (population 425), starring in three sports and leading her basketball team to a 114-25 record over four years. At ACU, she was named all-Lone Star Conference as the Wildcats’ captain in 1998-99.
Lipan’s 27-10 season ended March 4 with a state semifinal loss to defending state champion Neches, 65-26.