By Ted Lewis
Written for the Louisiana Sports Writers Association
Bienville Parish born and raised, Angela Turner Johnson has made a lifelong habit of being exceptional.
Her incredible basketball career at Shady Grove High School outside of Saline, and then at Louisiana Tech, made her legendary.
Next week, that becomes official around the state with her long-overdue induction in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.
She is among 11 state sports figures to be enshrined culminating the June 24-26 LSHOF Class of 2020 Induction Celebration. The festivities were postponed by the pandemic, but a year later, are full speed ahead. For information on participating in the events in Natchitoches (and the bowling bash in Shreveport), visit LaSportsHall.com or call 318-238-4255.
For the young woman known to most as “A.T.” as she grew up and attended college, her athletic career helped pave the way to success and happiness after basketball.
In 1982, Turner was part of the first group of 10 female recipients of an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship.
An honor student with a 3.35 GPA, she used the scholarship to earn a master’s degree in business from Tech, eventually becoming a CPA. She worked for companies like Coca-Cola and Motown and lived in Los Angeles and then London for several years before she and her husband settled in Texas in 2006 where she continues working as a CPA.
“Angela used basketball as a means to get a college education,” Lady Techsters founder Sonja Hogg said. “You don’t hear much about anyone doing that these days, but back then there weren’t many pro opportunities for women.
“She got tremendous support from her parents. A.T. always had bigger plans than basketball.”
But it was basketball where Turner made a lasting impression.
A 5-foot-8 shooting guard, Turner first developed her skills playing against boys in Bienville Parish backyards and school playgrounds. Her trademark jump shot came, she once said, because she was tired of the bigger boys blocking her layup attempts. With the three very lanky Martin brothers sandwiched around her age at Shady Grove, she was looking up constantly.
Basketball wasn’t her only sport, either. In elementary school, football was her preference.
But that door being closed to girls, she gravitated to basketball.
A three-time All-Stater and the Outstanding Player in Class C as a junior and senior, she led Shady Grove to a 46-1 record and the state championship in 1978.
National recruiting wasn’t developed back then, especially of players from tiny schools like Shady Grove.
That gave Hogg, Lady Techsters co-head coach Leon Barmore and school president Dr. F. Jay Taylor, a Bienville Parish native himself and such an avid supporter of the women’s basketball program he often accompanied the coaches on scouting trips, a big leg up at landing Turner. Plus, her cousin, Laverne Henderson, was an original Lady Techster.
“We went to see Angela one night against Simsboro, and they were double-teaming her the whole game,” Barmore recalled. “Finally they started triple-teaming her when she reached half-court.
“That’s how much respect the other schools had for her. She could have started for us while she was still in high school.”
In the summer before she arrived at Tech, Turner on the U.S. Junior National team, averaging a team-high 12.3 points as the Americans won a silver medal in an international tournament against teams from North and South America.
“The coach from Maryland really wanted me to come there,” Turner Johnson said. “But I didn’t want to go anywhere but Louisiana Tech.”
She made the right call, for her and the Techsters, and next week, gets the ultimate reward for all her fantastic feats.
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