Magee to replace Webb at Wesson

Coach Hugh Webb, standing left and Coach Rusti Magee, right. PHOTO BY TRACY FISCHER

Ronald Greer, principal of Wesson Attendance Center, announced last week that Lady Cobra basketball coach Hugh Webb has stepped down, citing health reasons.  Webb coached the 2009-2010 team, 25-7, to the 6-2A regular season and tournament titles, making an appearance in the south state 2A tournament for the second year in a row.

In December, Webb underwent a quadruple bypass heart surgery that sidelined him for four games.  He returned to coach the team in mid-January.  Ron Kessler, the head coach of the boys, filled in for Webb during his absence, then remained on the bench to assist Webb, along with other assistant Rusti Magee, who was named the new head coach by athletic director Tommy Clopton, this afternoon.  Magee came to Wesson at the start of the school year after having been coach of the junior high girls at Enterprise School.

Webb said that the decision was a tough one.  “I’ve always put my family first, and right now I need to be working on getting my strength and endurance back up to normal per doctor’s orders.  At this point, heading into spring and looking at a 25-30 game summer season, I just don’t have the strength.  And, I want to be around to see my granddaughter grow up.”

Webb has been the head coach at Wesson since fall of 2006.  His teams improved steadily over the four year stretch and collected consecutive district titles the past two years after finishing runners-up in year two.  His record of 84-38 over the period was the best since the early 1980’s at the school. 

A new day for the Lady Cobras begins with Magee, who brings a wealth of playing experience and a taste of sideline experience to the hardwood.  Magee, formerly Rusti Smith, played basketball at West Lincoln where she helped the Lady Bears win the South State championship in 1999 for head coach Jack Case.

“Rusti was a hard worker and had a lot of intensity,” stated Case.  “She was an outstanding player, and no doubt will make a great coach.”

Magee was named the Daily Leader and Lincoln County player of the year in 1999, and then enjoyed two years of starting at Co-Lin under Gwyn Young.  After finishing at Co-Lin, she spent two years as a starter at Mississippi College for the Lady Choctaws.

Magee’s first head coaching experience came at Enterprise Junior High where her 2008 and 2009 squads had a combined record of 29-6.  During that time the teams earned Lincoln County Junior High Championships and two Mid-South Conference Championships.

“The Enterprise job gave me game experience and the privilege to work with a great group of girls,” stated Magee.  “They came in with good attitudes and were ready to work hard and those same expectations will be here at Wesson.”

The experience of seeing Webb coach this past season’s district champions gave Magee a different perspective that she hopes pays off in the long run.

“Coach Webb showed you what hard work does and how to motivate your players,” explained Magee.  “He expected discipline and was very prepared for each game.  We have to tap into that and prove next year that we are ready to pick up where this great class left off.”

Ron Kessler, head boys basketball coach at Wesson, knows exactly what Magee is stepping into and feeling.  “It’s a great opportunity for her,” explained Kessler.  “I can remember when I was first named head coach and the learning you do on the job.  It will be an exciting challenge for her.”

“I would just like to thank principal Ronald Greer and athletic director Tommy Clopton for giving me this opportunity,”

“I wish Rusti the best of luck and offer her my support.  The program is in great shape with a good foundation, and it’s a tough district.  By stepping down now, it gives her a chance to settle into the leadership position and make her own preparations for next season,” Webb said.

Webb has a total of over 35 years experience in education, including 14 as a coach.  He has been the director of Job Corps in Crystal Springs, served as head girls’ basketball coach at Central Private in Baker, LA and has been a sports official for several years.  He will continue teaching at Wesson until the end of the school year, according to Greer.

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