Former Bulldog inducted

A former Butler women’s basketball player is among 11 individuals to be inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame April 27.

The selection committee chose Melissa (Kilgore) LaGrange, a native of Rushville, Ind., and former point guard for the Butler women’s basketball team, to the women’s induction class of 2013.

LaGrange is part of a class of individuals who made significant contributions to Indiana girls’ high school basketball as players or coaches.

“To be inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame is the highest accomplishment you can achieve being an Indiana high school basketball player or high school coach,” said Chris May, Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame executive director.

When inducted, LaGrange will be part of a Hall of Fame consisting of multiple basketball legends, including Oscar Robertson and John Wooden.

LaGrange said she was honored when the organization selected her to this year’s class.
All players and coaches in the Hall of Fame are native to Indiana. Like many Hall of Famers, LaGrange began to play basketball at a very young age.

“It was something always of interest of me,” LaGrange said. “I picked up the ball and kept on playing.
“I played in elementary school, middle school and continued with it through college.”

LaGrange became a basketball star when she played at Rushville Consolidated High School from 1980 to 1983 under Indiana Hall of Fame coach Cinda Rice Brown.

“She was the best point guard as far as her passing abilities,” Brown said. “I have never coached a player in my 31 years of coaching who could see the floor and make unbelievable bounce passes.
“She was also a very good defensive player and a great shooter. And for her stature, she had big hands which gave her great ball control.”

LaGrange recorded 986 points during her career at Rushville.

During that time, LaGrange and the Lady Lions won four state sectional championships, two regional championships and one semi-state championship. The team was also the 1981 state runner-up.

As a sophomore in the 1981 women’s state final, LaGrange recorded 40 points. It was the eighth-most points tallied by a female basketball player in the state final at the time.

“She had great impact on our program,” Brown said. “Every year we felt like we had the potential, barring injuries, to go back to the state finals.”

Unfortunately, LaGrange suffered an ACL injury her senior season at Rushville. The injury caused many college women’s basketball programs to revoke scholarship offers to her.

But one university remained confident in LaGrange and her ability to play basketball.

“When I tore my knee up as a senior, one of the schools that still wanted me and expressed a real desire to have me play was Butler,” LaGrange said.

After LaGrange graduated from Rushville, she continued her basketball career while studying education at Butler.

“The location of Butler and the history of Hinkle Fieldhouse was just a fit for me,” LaGrange said.

LaGrange was the starting point guard all four seasons as a Bulldog. She also became a two-time captain for the team.

During her career at Butler, she notched the all-time assist record of 584. She also remains fifth on the all-time list for steals with 201.

LaGrange said she would not change her decision to go to Butler if she had the chance, adding that she became close friends with her teammates and made everlasting memories.

In 2004, Butler athletics recognized and honored LaGrange by inducting her to the Butler Athletic Hall of Fame.

LaGrange said recognition by Butler and now the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame for her achievements on the court was humbling.

“I never want attention for anything,” LaGrange said. “I played it because I loved the game.”

LaGrange currently lives in Grapevine, Texas.  She is a tutor at Euless Elementary School in Euless, Texas.

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