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Ogden High retires No. 25 jersey in honor of late Phil Russell; Tigers beat Ben Lomond

By Patrick Carr - | Jan 20, 2022
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Ogden's Ajae Belliston (1) and Ben Lomond's Taylor Hester (10) pursue a rebound Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022, at Ogden High School.
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Framed Phil Russell jerseys hang above the north entrance of Ogden High School's gymnasium. Russell, the former longtime girls basketball coach at Ogden High who died in 2020, was honored Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022 with a jersey retirement ceremony during halftime of the Ogden-Ben Lomond girls basketball game.
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Ogden's Mahine Bergeson (right) takes the ball down the court during a prep girls basketball game Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022 at Ogden High School.
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A framed jersey honoring late, legendary former Ogden High coach Phil Russell is displayed at halftime of a girls basketball game between Ogden and Ben Lomond. The Tigers retired No. 25 in honor of Russell, one of the winningest basketball coaches in state history who died November 2020 from COVID-19.
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Ogden's Heidi Baldarramos and Ben Lomond's Maleah Richey battle for the ball during a prep girls basketball game Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022 at Ogden High School.
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Ogden High's Ellie Oliverson prepares to shoot in a prep girls basketball game against Ben Lomond on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022, at Ogden High School.
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People gather on the court at halftime of a girls basketball game between Ogden and Ben Lomond high school during a jersey retirement ceremony for the late Phil Russell on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022, at Ogden High School. Russell is one of the winningest coaches in Utah high school basketball history and died November 2020 from COVID-19.
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Ben Lomond's Avery Beadles dribbles the ball in a game against Ogden on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022, at Ogden High School.
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Ogden's Heidi Baldarramos looks to pass against Ben Lomond on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022, at Ogden High School.
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Ben Lomond's Doki Jenson (5) jumps for a ball against an Ogden player on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022, at Ogden High School.
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Ogden's Ashley Christensen (31) looks to pass against Ben Lomond on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022, at Ogden High School.

OGDEN — Phil Russell’s favorite number was 25. He wore it playing football and baseball in high school.

Why was 25 the favorite number of the former, longtime girls basketball coach at Ogden High? That question is tougher to answer.

Still, a black jersey with orange trim, the number 25 and “Coach Russell” on the back was retired in a ceremony at OHS on Thursday night at halftime of the girls basketball game between Ogden and Ben Lomond.

Russell’s family and friends gathered on the court for the halftime ceremony, which consisted of a tribute reading, a “P-H-I-L” chant and the unveiling of the retired jersey above the gym’s north entrance.

Russell died in November 2020 at the age of 75 after a long battle with COVID-19. Last season, Ogden’s girls basketball team debuted uniforms that say “Russell” on the front.

In his storied coaching career at OHS, Russell’s teams won 10 region championships, five state championships and he amassed 502 career wins as head coach.

“Phil Russell means everything to me,” Ogden coach Steve Lister said. “I never played for him, I didn’t have kids who played for him, I didn’t have a wife who played for him, I only got to spend a few years with him in these halls — but there’s no other legacy in this state like his at one school for that many years, that many wins, that many state championships.”

After Russell retired from coaching and teaching, he was still a part of the school community and made visits to the basketball teams. He also helped teach driver’s education.

Ogden senior Lucy Ballard, the winner of a $500 annual scholarship given out at this game, had Russell as a driver’s ed teacher one day a couple years ago, she said.

“I’m very grateful. I’m excited to get (the scholarship) and everything that it represents,” Ballard said.

Thursday, the Tigers led early and they led big against the Scots, eventually securing a 42-26 win in front of a packed gym to stop an eight-game losing skid that included tough back-to-back losses against South Summit and Grantsville where Ogden had the ball for the final possession.

Ogden (5-11, 1-3 Region 13) led 12-1 after the first quarter. Mahine Bergeson picked Ben Lomond’s pocket on successive possessions and took the ball for a layup in a sequence that put Ogden ahead 20-5 at one point.

Ben Lomond was fresh out of a COVID-19 pause that forced its last two games to be postponed. The Scots (3-10, 0-2) were slow to get going, but eventually closed to within 22-11 at halftime. Then, the Tigers jumped out in the third quarter to an even larger lead, which held up the rest of the game.

“My intention for tonight was to make it about the seniors and allow the seniors to start a big game for them, and make it about the players and get in as many girls as I could to enjoy this environment,” Lister said.

Fourteen different players saw playing time in the first half for the Tigers, Lister said. Ballard was Ogden’s leading scorer with nine points and Bergeson scored six. Dory Jenson and Taylor Hester co-led Ben Lomond with six points each.

“The past week has been really good for our team, we’ve had close games, we’ve really come together and we really wanted to get a win for coach Russell,” Ballard said.

OTHER SCORES, NO STATS REPORTED

Bear River 60, Logan 18

Rich 59, St. Joseph 19

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