Senior staff writer
Franklin Central’s girls basketball team is being assisted by one of this year’s inductees into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.
Assistant coach Nikki (Anderson) Cerbone, a 1987 Indiana All-Star, was inducted in April during an awards dinner on the Southside.
“Coaching gives me the opportunity to give back to the girls the love that I have for the game,” Cerbone said a few days before the season began. “You love the players and hope that they enjoy and love the game that I love.”
For the ninth consecutive season at Franklin Central, Cerbone brings her high school AAU and collegiate experiences to the Flashes and to head coach Mike Hacker.
“Hard work,” Cerbone replied. “Nothing can replace that, no matter what they may do. Fundamentals are the foundation of the game. I want them to play hard and love the game.”
As an assistant, she has helped in guiding the Flashes to 92 wins and two sectional championships before this season began.
Her responsibilities include various administrative duties, helping with practices, drills and game strategies.
“We really work well together,” Cerbone said. “He (Hacker)is very receptive and open-minded to new ideas. He’s very good in making sure we speak up.”
Cerbone enjoyed an outstanding career as a player at Center Grove and Butler, never missing a game in eight years. She played in 81 high school games and 110 collegiate games.
She graduated from Center Grove in 1987 after setting the Trojans’ all-time career scoring record of 1,137 points, which still stands. She averaged more than 20 points and 10 rebounds in her last two years for coach Mike Swango. She earned 10 varsity letters – four each in basketball and volleyball and two in track.
At Butler she scored 1,128 points, hit 81 percent of her free throws (196-of-240) and had a single-game high of 32 points.
She was on Indiana’s first AAU girls 16-and-under team – coached by her father, Ed Anderson, and sponsored by Love’s Carpets – which won the national championship.
She later teamed with Seymour’s Teri Moren in the first two-on-two AAU national tourney. Moren is a former University of Indianapolis coach and current Indiana University coach.
Cerbone was honored by the Hall of Fame in 2012 as a member of the 2012 Silver Anniversary Indiana All-Star team of 1987.
Her basketball days began by playing with older brother Terry against other boys in her neighborhood, where learned all about toughness, which carried her through high school and college.
She majored in speech and minored in business at Butler. She recalled that her college choices boiled down between Southern Illinois and Butler, where she felt more connected to the players and coaches.
With no WNBA in existence, the only future to play beyond college was overseas in Europe, which did not appeal to her.
She returned to Center Grove Schools as eighth-grade coach while working on her education degree. She then taught and coached at Greenwood High alongside head coach Jerry Beasley. She took a break from coaching to have her third child before returning to coaching at Franklin Central and teaching at Franklin Township Middle School West.
Nikki and husband Bob have three children; Anthony, a junior at Ball State University; Jake, a freshman at Indiana University; and Justin, a junior at FCHS.
Cerbone is the third Trojan to be inducted, following 2012 inductee, 1965 graduate Steve Witty, a two-time state championship basketball coach at Ben Davis, and 2014 inductee, 1979 graduate, Lisa (Robertson) Wilson, the school’s first Indiana All-Star and a standout at Indiana Wesleyan.
(Editor’s note: Kevin Conrad of the Center Grove Sports Network contributed to this article.)