“Miss Hogg, we’re going to win the national championship.”
That was a pretty audacious promise, especially considering it was coming from a player at a rural Class C school and made to a coach recruiting her to a college just four years into having a women’s basketball program and which had yet to sign anyone from more than 100 miles away from Ruston – including this one.
But that player was Angela Turner, who was sensational at Shady Grove High School, about 15 miles west of Jonesboro. And, sure enough, while she was at Louisiana Tech, the Lady Techsters claimed not one but two national titles plus two other Women’s Final Four appearances to boot, establishing a tradition that kept the school among the sport’s elite into the 21st century.
“I don’t know what made me say that other than I believed it was true,” said Turner, the Final Four MVP in 1981 when Tech took the AIAW championship and a Kodak All-America in 1982 when the Techsters became the first NCAA women’s champion, “When I dream, I dream big. I didn’t see any reason why it couldn’t be us.”
And now, more than four decades after she first made that memorable pledge to Tech coach Sonja Hogg, Turner’s can-do attitude — not to mention her versatile abilities topped by an ahead-of-its-time jump shot — have landed her in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.
She’ll be honored in the pandemic-delayed 2020 Induction Celebration June 24-26 in Natchitoches. For tickets and information, visit LaSportsHall.com or call 318-238-4255. Turner’s going in long after her playing days. But she’s fine with that.
“Better late than never,” said Turner, now Angela Turner Johnson, a soon-to-be-61 grandmother (and minus her trademark gold tooth and Afro) who resides with her husband, Troy Johnson, in Carrollton, Texas.
Turner Johnson joins Hogg, then-associate head coach Leon Barmore and teammates Pam Kelly, Kim Mulkey and Janice Lawrence-Braxton in the state’s shrine to its top athletes, located in Natchitoches.
That’s just 32 miles from her listed hometown of Saline in Bienville Parish. Nearby was now-closed Shady Grove High School where Turner was both a star player, averaging 30.9 points and 15.1 rebounds as a senior, and also the valedictorian of the 17-member Class of 1978 along with being Miss Shady Grove and student council president.
Turner Johnson’s fellow Hall of Famers from her Lady Techster days are unanimous in saying her inclusion is long overdue.
Kelly (1992): “A.T. should have gone in with the rest of us. She worked her butt off a player and a student, and that included helping me out with math when I couldn’t get it.”
Lawrence-Braxton (2005): “You can always tell good people, and from the time I met her, A.T. was good people. She was a leader on and off the court. Without A.T. you really don’t have the history of Lady Techster basketball.”
Barmore (2000): “Angela Turner could score, defend, steal and rebound. That God-given ability was just there. There was just an electricity about her game and you don’t find people that have the class she has.”
Mulkey (1990): “A.T. had a mid-range jump shot back in the day when mostly it was just men who were shooting them. She’d do it with a smile on her face, too. And on top of that, she was and is just a kind and classy person.”
Hogg (2013): “Angela was a joy to coach because she was the kind of player who would run through a brick wall for you. And she was a great student-athlete in every sense of the word.”