Senior staff writer
Perry Meridian and Southport will have new boys basketball coaches when the 2018-19 season begins,
and so will the girls program at Franklin Central.
Former Franklin Central coach Mark James returns to the Southside at Perry Meridian, succeeding Brent Keck, and Eric Brand, who guided South Bend Riley to the Class 4A semistate before falling to Carmel, takes over at Southport after the resignation of Kyle Simpson. Former Martinsville coach Vince Cerbone takes over for the Flashes.
James, 63, coached the Flashes before leaving for Ben Davis, where he guided the Giants to a state championship in 2017. He coached the Giants for six years, winning 121 games to rank No. 3 among their winningest coaches.
“I wasn’t really looking,” James said. “After thinking about it for a while, it came down to a quality-of-life decision.”While coaching the Giants, James continued to live in Franklin Township with his family but traveled 42 miles round-trip daily to the Westside school. They live about seven miles from Perry Meridian.
“Both high schools have good people,” James said. “And there is the challenge of building the program at Perry Meridian.”James has talked with Keck (66-106, six years) and has met with the Falcons. He will teach physical education.“It will take a while to build the culture,” James said.
“This will be a different challenge. I look at this to be successful and to see players play up to our standards. We want to be the best that we can be.” The Falcons’ last sectional championship came in 2010 under now-Pike coach Bill Zych. James’ wife, Pam, will retire as a teacher with Franklin Town-ship Schools at the end of this academic year.
They have four children, all living in the area, and two grandchildren. James’ teams are known for their hard-nosed defense and deliberate offense. He was 121-52 at Ben Davis and is 559-283 in 36 seasons overall, including 26 years at Franklin Central, where he won eight sectional championships, one regional title and two Marion County tourney titles.
Brand was an assistant coach at Baylor, Tyler Junior College and Texas State before returning to central Indiana at Warren Central.The Bloomington native holds Bethel College’s career and single-season scoring records and played professionally in Austria and Australia. Simpson coached Southport for
six seasons, capped by the team’s march to the semistate in 2016 before losing to eventual state
champion New Albany. The Cardinals won three Conference Indiana titles, a Hall of Fame Classic and sectional and regional championships with Simpson at the helm.
After a 1-19 season in 2013, the Cardinals went 73-49 under Simpson.
“I’m proud of what my staff and I have done to make Southport a basketball program back on the map once again,” he said. “I’m making this decision for what’s best for my family and my family alone.” He started a youth basketball program with a travel team that attracted 165 youngsters.
FC’s new mentor
Cerbone succeeds Brian Hacker, who was 77-75 over the past seven years.
Cerbone had been the head coach for the Artesians since 2001; he became the all-time leader in wins with 233 and won three sectionals and three conference championships.He served as an assistant coach
on the girls 2017 Indiana All-Star team.
During Hacker’s tenure, the Flashes were 63-29 in his first four seasons and won two sectional
championships. He was 7-17 with a team that featured two juniors, one freshman and three sophomores, including standout Rachel Loobie, 15.2 points per game and 10.2
rebounds per game.