Tyra (left) and Tyla (right) pose for a photo in the Lumberjack Arena on Jan. 30. Photo by Zac Sibek.

Turner Twins outshine the competition

Twins Tyla and Tyra Turner aim to be the most prolific duo in Humboldt State basketball history on and off the court.

To great athletes, the big moment is never too big.

For twin point guards Tyla and Tyra Turner, dealing with pressure comes naturally. The twins grew up in a sports family with an astonishing seven pairs of twins.

“Everybody in our family was involved in some type of sport,” Tyla said.

From the time they were 6 years old, the Turner twins were turning heads with their athletic abilities. Tyla started with basketball, while Tyra started dribbling with her feet on the soccer field.

It wouldn’t be long until the sisters were dominating together on the court at Cajon High School, where coach Mark Lehman recognized their on-court chemistry right away.

“They know each other like the back of their hand,” Lehman said.

The twins’ high basketball IQ also creates ways for them to work around problems on the floor, like their 5-foot-5 height.

“They are so smart,” Lehman said. “They make up for their size disadvantage with intelligent play.”

Years of playing together and next-level skills were the reasons Tyla and Tyra helped Cajon High win its first state basketball championship in 2016.

Moving on to play college basketball was automatic for the pair, but the dynamic duo split up at first. Tyla went to California State University, Long Beach and Tyra came to Humboldt State University.

After a season apart, Tyla saw new dimensions in her sister’s style and skill that made her take notice of Tyra’s training at HSU.

“There was a big change in my sister’s game,” Tyla said.

“When she came back, she had this different type of game that nobody really sees in her. I need that push, because I didn’t feel like I was pushed as much in Long Beach.”

Tyla decided to join Tyra and transfer from CSU Long Beach to Humboldt. The reunion had their mother, Marqueta Turner dreaming of the possibilities.

“I knew when they came together at HSU, it would be something special,” Marqueta said.

Parents Tyrone and Marqueta Turner have always supported their daughters athletic lives. Their mother would drive them to practice and travel ball, and their father would push them to train and constantly improve.

Now, training style is something that both Tyla and Tyra appreciate about Jacks head coach, Michelle Bento-Jackson.

“I like that she talks about this is not about basketball, anything that we learn can be helpful as a tool in life,” Tyra said. “It’s definitely a big thing for us.”

There is no doubt that the Turner twins’ athletic standards are high, but their aspirations outside the spotlight are admirable as well. The Turners have instilled humility, and a team-first attitude in their daughters that carries over into their studies.

Tyla is a criminology and justice major and talks with passion about her goal to educate others about the law.

“A lot of people are very limited of what they know about what is going on in the government and about their rights. I feel like I need to know about that, because it’s really important,” Tyla said. “We need to know what’s really going on in our world. not knowing is the worst, but knowing is our power.”

Tyra is a psychology major that wants to employ her degree as a correctional psychologist. Her inspiration for working inside the legal system comes from her mother, who has worked in corrections, parole and probation.

“We need to start looking at this future generation, and I think me trying to help kids now will really make a difference,” Tyra said.

Empowering others on and off the court has become a way of life for the twins.

“Remain humble even when great things are coming your way,” Marqueta would say to the twins. Tyla and Tyra’s mother told them to keep their potential in perspective as lessons learned in the gym through blood, sweat and tears are brought out into the world.

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