WASHINGTON TERRACE — The “500 Wins” club for girls basketball head coaches was unofficially chartered on Feb. 18, 2010, when Ogden High beat Box Elder 47-40.
That score secured the 500th win for Ogden coach Philip Russell. Nearly 10 years later, the club gained a second member.
Farmington High girls basketball head coach Van Price reached the 500-win mark Wednesday night when the Phoenix defeated Bonneville 45-36.
“I guess the biggest thing is I can’t believe I’ve coached that long. You coach a long time, you’re going to rack up a lot of wins if they don’t run you out of a program because you’re not doing very well,” Price said after the game. “I’ve loved every minute of it. You do it for the kids, you do it for the girls.”
Price is more known for the success he had at Layton High as the longtime Lancers’ girls basketball head coach.
Price became Layton’s head coach in 1987 and amassed 474 wins over the course of 30 seasons, including 10 region championships and two undefeated state championship teams in 2005 and 2016.
He was hired as the first girls basketball head coach at Farmington High in advance of the 2018-19 season. The Phoenix won 14 games last year, including the school’s first playoff game, a 56-50 decision over Olympus.
Before the season, Price was alone in second place on the coaching wins list, having passed longtime Panguitch coach Curtis Barney last year.
“People keep reminding me. My wife reminds me, my kids keep reminding me,” Price said.
Price enjoys the milestone of 500 wins, the accolades and accomplishments over the years.
But he says the most important thing he’s learned over that time is being a good person and making sure the players who come through the program are good people when they leave high school.
People don’t coach 30-plus years without some sort of strategy. For Price, it was being a student of the game and changing things up every now and then lest he go crazy.
Price can get to 501 wins and stand alone atop the coaching wins list Friday if the Phoenix beat Viewmont on the road.
The next closest active coach to 500 wins is Scott Ferguson from Rich High, who had 326 coming into the 2019-20 season.
“It’s a big deal, it really is. I looked the other day, I think there are five boys coaches that have got to 500 and some of them have gone beyond that. I’m sure that (Price) will go past that as well,” Russell said in a recent interview at Ogden High.
“It’s a club, it’s neat. You can tell him I’ll still be the president and he can be the vice president.”
There’s a mutual respect between Price and Russell, having coached against one another and from what each other has accomplished career-wise.
Girls sports have come a long way since Russell started coaching in 1973. At that point, the basketball team’s “uniforms” were T-shirts with the numbers written in black marker.
Then their uniforms became hand-me-downs that were used by various other sports before finally getting their own uniform. Under Russell, the Tigers won 10 region championships and five state championships.
In Ogden High’s trophy cabinet near the gymnasium that bears his name, the game ball from win No. 500 sits, which has signatures from all the players and a prominently “500 Wins” written in black marker.
“I had to learn how to beat his dang 1-3-1 trap. He ran it for years and it took awhile,” Price said about Russell.
Russell reached out to Price recently to let him know he had been paying attention, and he welcomed Price to the “500 Club.”
“That meant a lot. From him that’s a big thing,” Price said.
Win No. 500 wasn’t an easy task. Farmington (12-2, 3-0 Region 5) led 14-7 after the first quarter, trailed briefly in the second as the Lakers made a run, then led 24-21 at halftime.
A couple adjustments later, the Phoenix led by 11 heading to the final frame and closed it out from there.
Brooklyn Perkins led Farmington with 12 points and Naomi Kehl scored six of her eight points in the second quarter.
Kehl made a fourth-quarter putback that extended Farmington’s lead to 45-34 with under a minute left, prompting a fist pump from Price.
Courtnie Porter led the Lakers (5-8, 0-3) with 11 points.