NOTE: This is the second in a series written by Ted Lewis of the Louisiana Sports Writers Association (LSWA) celebrating Shady Grove High School and Louisiana Tech girls basketball star who is being enshrined in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame on June 26 in Natchitoches as a member of the Class 0f 2020. Others to be inducted include: “Sweet” Lou Dunbar, C. Kent Lowe, Charles Tillman, Joan Cronan, Kerry Kittles, Mackie Freeze, Phil Robertson, Robin Fambrough, Ronnie Coleman and Tim Brando. For information on the June 24-26 festivities, visit LaSportsHall.com or call 318-238-4255.
Angela Turner – affectionately known as AT – was an extraordinarily versatile guard who led Louisiana Tech to back-to-back national championship titles in 1981 and 1982, and was the 1981 Final Four MVP. She was signed out of Shady Grove High School in the late 1970s and became a major player in establishing the Lady Techsters’ long reign of national success. Angela (Turner) Johnson, as she is now known, lives in Carrollton, Texas. She earned her bachelor’s degree in physical education and her MBA with an accounting emphasis – both from Tech. As a top-notch CPA, she fields questions with precision:
Q: What do you remember about being recruited out of high school and what led you to Louisiana Tech?
A: I remember coach Sonja Hogg walking into Shady Grove High School gymnasium and she had on a white mink coat. The gym was packed. We may have been playing a doubleheader against Jonesboro-Hodge. She had such a presence. Even though she was recruiting me, she talked to all of my teammates. She treated them like she was recruiting them too. She was very friendly. I also had a cousin, Laverne Henderson, who went to Louisiana Tech and played for the Lady Techsters. She still holds the record for the most rebounds in a game. My mother and Laverne’s mother were sisters. Shady Grove was in the country. It was about 10 miles west of Jonesboro. It was about 5 miles or so from Saline. They shut down Shady Grove in 1996. Some of the students went to Saline High School and some went to Bienville Parish.
Q: What do you remember about your time at Louisiana Tech?
A: All of the wins. Going to the games. We played in old Memorial Gymnasium. I remember wading through the crowd hours before the game. We would get to the gym and the crowds were already lined up waiting to get into the gymnasium even before we were getting there for the game. On the inside, it was packed to the rafters. Everyone was so excited. It was something new for us and new for the town of Ruston and the surrounding areas. Everybody was going along for the ride. They gym would be packed and the volume was so loud. The bleachers were almost on the court so there wasn’t much room. I remember the noise and the excitement. Even though it was loud, there were certain people you could distinguished their voices. I remember the excitement and being able to play in that atmosphere. The fans alone probably gave us a 10-point advantage.
Q: Looking back, do you think you and your teammates understood the magnitude of what you were accomplishing back then?
A: No, I don’t. When you are in the moment, you are in the moment. For me I didn’t have a chance to think about it because I was in the moment. Once I graduated and left Louisiana Tech, I realized the magnitude of our accomplishments. Even now at my age – and I’ve been gone a good number of years – the evidence is in the numbers: two Naismith Basketball Hall of Famers, five Women’s Basketball Hall of Famers, seven Louisiana Tech Sports Hall of Famers, five Louisiana Sports Hall of Famers … all from those two national title teams. That tells you what kind of a team and the coaches we had. In the moment, I never realized it.
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