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Saint Anselm College’s Cody Ball of Londonderry goes up for a shot over Merrimack College’s Khalief Crawford during the Dec. 1 game in Goffstown. Ball is Union Leader Athlete of the Month for March.

Cody Ball concluded his career with the Saint Anselm College men’s basketball team by helping the program reach historic heights.

The senior guard from Londonderry played a vital role in the Hawks’ run in the NCAA Division II tournament last month that included its second ever regional title, first Elite Eight victory and first semifinal appearance.

Ball averaged 13.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and two assists over Saint Anselm’s six March contests.

For his contributions to the Hawks’ NCAA tournament run, Ball was named the March Apple Therapy Services/Bedford Ambulatory Surgical Center/Express MED Athlete of the Month by the New Hampshire Union Leader Board of Judges.

Saint Anselm’s first trip to the Elite Eight since its 1999-2000 campaign began with a 97-87 Northeast-10 Conference quarterfinal loss to Southern Connecticut State on March 3.

“When we lost the conference quarterfinal, we knew we were the best team in the conference,” Ball said. “We were confident and ready and just got outplayed that day...It says a lot about our program, our team, the guys we have, to bounce back like that and make such a deep run in the national tournament — win the regional, an Elite Eight game.”

After a 15-point performance in the Hawks’ loss to Southern Connecticut, Ball scored 16 in each of their next four games, beginning with an 81-71 East Regional first-round triumph over Molloy. The Londonderry High School graduate also tied a month high with six rebounds in the opening-round win.

“I’ve said this a lot but a lot of my points are created by my teammates,” Ball said. “I’m a big catch-and-shoot guy...The way we run our offense, our guards, especially our shooting guards, get open shots. As long as they’re falling, any of our guards should have 10-30 points. It just depends on whether they’re going in that day.”

After disposing of Molloy, Saint Anselm edged New Haven, 70-69, in the regional semifinal and trounced Saint Thomas Aquinas, 74-49, in the final to advance to the Elite Eight in Evansville, Ind. Ball was named to the East Regional All-Tournament team and set the program record for most career games played (121) in Saint Anselm’s title-game win over Saint Thomas.

“I think a lot of guys stepped up in the regional,” Ball said. “That three-game stretch to win the regional was probably the best stretch of basketball we played all year.”

When Saint Anselm arrived in Evansville for the Elite Eight, Ball said the team knew it deserved to be on that stage but it was still a lot to take in.

“We had very high expectations at the beginning of the season,” Ball said. “When we got there, it was exciting and new. We were not starstruck but loving the moment. But at the same time, we kind of felt we belonged there.”

{span}Ball and the fifth-seeded Hawks showed why they belonged on March 27, when they defeated fourth-seeded Nova Southeastern, 91-81, to reach the semifinals. Ball tallied 16 points and grabbed six rebounds in his team’s win over the South Region champion. The co-captain recorded four of the Hawks’ 16 treys, which marked the second-most ever by a team in an Elite Eight game.{/span}

Nova Southeastern trimmed Saint Anselm’s lead to 57-52 with 17:28 remaining. The Hawks responded with a 23-9 run to put the game away.

“That was a theme a lot of the season for us,” Ball said. “We’d go on huge runs like that and they were almost always sparked by defense...We’d cause a couple turnovers, block shots and make big plays on the defensive end. We’re known for if you turn the ball over, we’ll punish you on the other end.”

The Hawks fell, 76-53, to top-seeded, No. 1 ranked, and eventual undefeated national champion Northwest Missouri State in the semifinals. Ball, who was held scoreless in the loss, called the Bearcats the best team he ever played against.

While he would have liked to cap it with a national championship, Ball said the Hawks’ NCAA tournament run this season was probably the biggest accomplishment of his basketball career.

“That last game was not the way I wanted to go out but looking back on it, in the grand scheme of things, it almost wasn’t that bad we lost,” Ball said. “We just accomplished something no team ever has accomplished before. We never expected to make it that far. We thought we could. We hoped we could. To finish my career like that was exciting and special.”

Other athletes considered for the March honor were Pembroke Academy boys’ basketball player Noah Cummings, Epping High School boys’ basketball player Hunter Bullock, Southern New Hampshire University women’s lacrosse player Lexi Felt, University of North Carolina men’s lacrosse player Brian Cameron and University of Massachusetts softball player Kaycee Carbone.

Cummings, a senior point guard and the Division II Player of the Year, scored at least 16 points in each of Pembroke’s four playoff games on its way to capturing the D-II title. Bullock, a senior guard and the Division IV Player of the Year, recorded a triple-double (23 points, 15 rebounds, 10 assists) in Epping’s win over Littleton in the D-IV championship game and a game-high 20 points in its semifinal victory over Woodsville.

Felt, a senior attacker from Manchester, logged 29 points (23 goals, six assists) over a 4-4 March campaign for SNHU. In her career-high eight-point outing in the Penmen’s victory over Dominican (N.Y.) on March 9, she recorded her 100th career point. Cameron, a freshman attackman from Bedford, tallied four goals and three assists over a 4-2 month for North Carolina.

Carbone, a senior from Hudson, recorded a .320 batting average (8-for-25), three home runs, two doubles, a triple, 13 RBIs, 12 runs scored and 13 walks over a 12-6 March run for UMass.

Previous 2019 winners: January, Mike Robinson, Bedford (hockey); February, Brooke Kane, Derry (basketball).

To submit a nomination for future Athlete of the Month consideration, email the Union Leader Sports Department at sports@unionleader.com and enter “Athlete of the Month” in the subject line.

Athlete of the Month recipients are honored at the annual Leaders: A Celebration of Sports Champions event held in February.