Its 1995, the Gold Coast Rollers are in town and both teams are shooting the lights out to start the game. No literally the lights went out to start the game. Yes, we know it wasn’t uncommon for the Snakepit to suffer from power shortages but it was especially disappointing to happen after the away team got out to a fast start.
But when play resumed, your Hawks strangled the lead back away from the Rollers finishing the first quarter leading 38-16.
It was a game that featured some great playmaking talent. The Rollers were lead by import guard Steve Woodberry, who was coming into the NBL fresh off a championship season in the Swiss league, and not far removed from a successful collegiate career at Kansas where he had two NCAA Final Four Appearances (1991 & 1993).
The Hawks had a pretty impressive point guard themselves in Andre Lafleur, who joined the team from the Gold Coast during the off season replacing Butch Hays. It was classic match-up with Lafleur a man on a mission, knocking down jumpers, getting to the hoop at will, and knocking down the 3 if given the opportunity. Not to be outdone, Woodberry himself was causing havoc for his defender with great dribbling skills and a smooth pull up jump shot, he was a shining light for the Rollers.
But this game belonged to the Hawks, and when the silky smooth southpaw Melvin Thomas got rolling, it was all over for the Rollers. The Hawks ran away 111-95 winners. Woodberry finished the game with 27 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists and 5 steals and had good support from fellow import Fred Herzog (25 points) and Tony de Ambrosis (21 points).
The Hawks were paced by Lafleur with 38 points & 6 assists, while Melvin added 33 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists. Illawarra’s next top scorer was a local junior Terry Johnson who finished this game with 14 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists.
Terry had all his skills on display in this game with his superb ball handling ability and amazing court vision often leaving defenders confused as to what they just witnessed. With his jump shot locked on it ensured the defence could not leave him unattended. Extremely energetic and with a style of play that was straight out of a video game, he quickly became a fan favourite at the Snakepit.
(Profile from Swish Magazine 1995)
Growing up the younger brother of another well respected Hawks player (Rod Johnson), Terry had a different path to the NBL than others around him. After playing representative basketball here at the IBA for a few years, Terry went looking for a fresh start and moved to Grafton in the SEABL competition to hone his skills. From there he played the 1993 season with the North Melbourne Giants, followed by the old CBA competition with the North Melbourne Arrows then the Cairns Marlins, winning the title with the Arrows in ’93.
Terry came to the Hawks in 1995, and wowed the crowd almost instantly. To say he had the ball on a string when he dribbled would be an understatement, as he would often pull out moves that would leave opponents and fans alike scratching their heads. His amazing court vision was coupled with a great passing ability and he would often whip the ball to a teammate, who had created a split second of space from his defender, without hesitation.
That 1995 season with the Hawks saw Terry compete in the Future Forces game during the All Star break where he teamed up with Brett Maher and Chris Anstey to name a few.
Playing with the Hawks for 3 seasons (95, 96, & 97) TJ finished his Hawks career averaging 12.2 pts, 3.7 rebounds, and 3.2 assists in 85 games. After leaving the Hawks he had stints with the Newcastle Falcons, Cairns Taipans, and the Sydney Kings.