Ex-MCHS, Tulane standout loses battle with cancer
Keisha Johnson Brown (Submitted Photo/Courtesy of Tulane Athletics)
Former Morgan City High School and Tulane basketball standout Keisha Johnson Brown died Thursday at age 42 after a seven-year battle with breast cancer, according to a Tulane University news release.
The Morgan City native attended Morgan City High School before moving on to Tulane University where she starred for four years.
She later played professionally in Finland.
Former Morgan City girls’ basketball coach Bill Fuhrer, who restarted the girls’ basketball program in 1986 after a lengthy hiatus, said that then-Keisha Johnson was a freshman on that team.
He said she was one of the cornerstones on the re-emergence of the basketball program.
“She was just happy all the time and everybody like her,” Fuhrer said.
On the court, Fuhrer said Brown was a “competitor.”
Her freshmen year, the squad finished 4-12 and by the time she was a senior, the squad was 28-3 and advanced to the Class 3A quarterfinals.
She was named Class 3A All-State first-team following that season, and Fuhrer said she is the only Morgan City girls’ basketball player since the rebirth of the program to earn first-team all-state honors.
She also is one of three former Lady Tigers to participate in the Louisiana Coaches Association All-Star game.
After high school, she continued her success at Tulane.
“When she got a scholarship to Tulane, I loaded up my suburban and took her to Tulane and put her in the dorm and all that,” Fuhrer said.
Brown was a four-year letter winner at Tulane from 1990-94.
“The Tulane family lost one of its all-time great players and role models,” Tulane head women’s basketball coach Lisa Stockton said in a news release. “I was not fortunate enough to coach Keisha, but her impact on our program has been immeasurable. Our thoughts and prayers are with Keisha’s family.”
During her time at Green Wave, Brown earned Metro Conference All-Rookie Team honors as a freshman in 1990-91, claimed second-team All-Metro honors as a sophomore and was tabbed first-team all-conference as a senior.
At the conclusion of her career, Brown became the first player in program history to surpass both the 1,000-point and 1,000-rebound plateaus with totals of 1,823 points and 1,048 boards.
Her 9.4 rebound-per-game average and 465 offensive boards remain Tulane records.
She also set Green Wave marks with a .609 field goal percentage (currently second) as well as 3,418 minutes played and 30.5 minutes per game (both now fifth).
Brown finished her career second in Tulane history with 729 field goals (now third), 583 defensive rebounds (now fifth) and 222 steals (now seventh), third in points scored (now fourth), 365 free throws and 2 steals per game (both now sixth), and fourth with 16.3 points per game (now fifth).
Fuhrer said he attended some of Brown’s games when she played at Tulane and also would see her when he brought later Morgan City squads to team camps at Tulane.
Following her collegiate career, Brown played professionally in Finland for Tamperen-Pyrinto from 1994-96 when she averaged 23 points and 15 rebounds per game and was named the league’s Most Valuable Player. She was elected into the Tulane Athletics Hall of Fame in 2003.
While the WNBA was not in existence at the time, Fuhrer said he was confident she would have played in the league had it existed at the time.
Brown’s first coaching position was with the Southern Belles Basketball Club in New Orleans from 1997-2000 where she coached the squad to the 2000 state championship. From there, Brown moved to Michigan where she became the junior varsity coach for the Sacred Heart Academy girls’ program in 2001, while also coaching the AAU Central Basketball Club in Mt. Pleasant.
In 2002-03, she coached the junior varsity boys at Sacred Heart before becoming head coach in 2003. Brown coached Sacred Heart Academy boys’ basketball from 2003-09 where she put together a 114-30 record. She led the Irish to five straight conference titles, four district championships, three regional crowns and a runner-up showing in Class D in 2006. In addition, she also served as a principal and athletic director during her tenure at the school.
Brown later was named head coach at Alma (Mich.) College’s women’s basketball team on July 1, 2009, and spent the next five years at the helm of the Scots’ program before her head coaching tenure at the school ended last month, according to The Morning Sun in Mt. Pleasant, Mich.
After being diagnosed with cancer in June 2007, she created the Angel Wings Fund. The fund set up college scholarships for children who have lost a parent to cancer. She also served as a motivational speaker to help raise cancer awareness to youth audiences.
According to the Clark Family Funeral Chapel website, visitation was held today at Faith Community Church in Mt. Pleasant, Mich.; while visitation will resume Tuesday at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Mount Pleasant Mich., followed by a service at the church.
Locally, a service will be held Thursday at 1 p.m. at the Siracusa Recreation Center.
She will be buried in the Morgan City Cemetery.