MATTHEWS – When Mark Sanders picked up the phone almost two years ago and former Louisville All-American and former NBA player Pervis Ellison was on the other end of the line, the Butler girls’ basketball coach sensed he was about to hear something good.
Sanders heard the name Michaela Lane.
Ellison lived a couple houses down the street from Lane in New Jersey at the time, and he had coached the then freshman on his AAU team. Ellison informed Sanders that Lane was headed to Butler for her sophomore season and that the Bulldogs were about to get an “offensive rebounding machine.”
Ellison, however, didn’t give Sanders a total scouting report.
“He didn’t add in that she can score, she can block shots, she can dribble, she can pass, she can rebound and she will get on the floor after a loose ball,” Sanders said.
And Lane is doing all that for a Butler team that is 13-1 overall and 5-0 in the Southwestern 4A Conference heading into a conference road game Jan. 18 at Garinger. Lane is averaging 13.5 points, 12.9 rebounds, 3.6 blocks, 2.7 assists and 2.6 steals a game for the Bulldogs.
Lane said she has taken the lessons learned under Ellison to the high school level.
“Ellison was my head coach for AAU basketball,” Lane said. “He used to live around the corner from me and we used to get in the gym and work. Then when I got old enough to play with the older girls, he became my coach. It was a cool experience. He worked with me and made me a better player.”
Lane averaged 12.7 points and 10.2 rebounds last season as a sophomore at Butler. She said the competition level in North Carolina is better than in New Jersey, where she played for Burlington High as a freshman.
Lane had 17 rebounds and scored 13 points in Butler’s 58-53 victory over Hickory Ridge on Jan. 11. Butler and Hickory Ridge each entered that game with 4-0 conference records.
“We have a solid team this year, but we still have a lot to work on,” Lane said.
Lane leads Butler in assists, and the junior has been running the floor some for the Bulldogs. Sanders said Lane could have even better numbers on a team loaded with talent.
“Sometimes, we think Michaela Lane is a little too unselfish,” Sanders said. “She will have a layup, but she will kick out to another player on the perimeter for a three. She is comfortable handling the basketball.”
Lane (6-1) said she enjoys playing different roles for the Bulldogs.
“I like bringing the ball up because I can see more of the court,” Lane said. “I also like playing in the post.”
Lane, however, is far from a one-player show for the Bulldogs. Micahla Funderburk is averaging 15.1 points a game while Hailey Nance is averaging 9.8 points and 7.1 rebounds an outing. Michaela Dixon is averaging 5.7 rebounds a game. Butler is averaging 40 rebounds a game.
“Lane is a major contributor rebounding but we also have Michaela Dixon and then we have Hailey Nance. That’s what they want to do, they want to rebound,” Sanders said.
Sanders said the Bulldogs’ depth will be key as the team sets its sight on a deep playoff run. Seven Bulldogs average 15 or more minutes of playing time. Butler is ranked No. 7 in the state and No. 4 in Class 4A by MaxPreps.com
“We have the best depth since I have been here,” Sanders said. “We see who is hot and that is who we roll with. It’s a total team effort, and this is the most unselfish bunch that I have ever been around.”