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Athlete of the Month: Numbers do the talking for Pelham's Zach James

Mar. 1—Zach James knows it. All of the teams and players in NHIAA Division II boys basketball do, too.

The Pelham High School senior forward is a scorer.

James averaged 20.9 points per game for the Pythons (17-1) as they went 7-1 over their eight January games and scored his 1,000th career point over that stretch.

He led Pelham in scoring in five games and also scored at least 21 points in five games.

For his impressive — and typical — scoring output that month, James was named the January New Hampshire Union Leader Apple Therapy Services/Bedford Ambulatory Surgical Center/Express MED Athlete of the Month by the Union Leader Board of Judges.

"Offensively, I think my team looks for me," James said. "They set me up a lot, especially with screens and running plays. Trying to create myself works a lot, too."

It helps, James said, that he has played with his fellow four senior starters, Dom Herrling, Peter Hemmerdinger, Connor Travis and Logan Dumont, and senior sixth man Adrian Villanueva, since fourth grade.

Herrling, one of Pelham's other prolific scorers, scored his 1,000th career point in February.

"There's just a comfort level that obviously would be there with the guys," Pelham coach Joe Morin Sr. said. "They all complement each other well. Dom's more of a slasher and can drive it to the basket well. Peter's got a combination of Zach and Dom where Peter's a very good outside shooter but he also can get it to the cup and score and then Connor and Logan, they do all the grunt work."

James opened his January campaign with a month-high 29 points in Pelham's 65-55 win at Sanborn on Jan. 2.

James, who will play at NCAA Division III St. Joseph's College in Standish, Maine, next season, matched that output when he scored his 1,000th career point in a 67-54 Pythons triumph at Hollis-Brookline on Jan. 26.

The Pelham resident knew entering the game that he needed 23 points to reach the milestone, which he did not start thinking he could reach until after his 250-point sophomore season.

James dropped 20 points in that first half against the Cavaliers and was "really nervous" going into the second half.

After missing his first second-half shot attempt, James swished a 3-pointer 5:05 into the third quarter to secure his spot on Pelham's 1,000-point club banner.

"I remember always looking at that banner," James said. "I didn't know if I would ever be on it because I didn't really get good at basketball until high school."

James and the No. 1 seed, defending Division II champion Pythons hosted Sanborn in their quarterfinal on Friday.

"I just go out, play basketball and let the points come," James said.

Other athletes considered for the January award were Rivier University women's basketball player Lyric Grumblatt, Endicott College women's basketball player Sarah Dempsey, Plymouth State University men's basketball player Kyler Bosse, Pinkerton Academy girls basketball player Liz Lavoie, Concord Christian Academy girls basketball player Lilli Carlile, University of Minnesota Duluth men's hockey player Ben Steeves and Concord High School boys hockey player Carter Doherty.

Grumblatt, a senior from Manchester, averaged 25 points, seven rebounds, 3 steals and 2.2 assists over a 4-5 January campaign for Rivier.

Dempsey, a junior forward from Windham, averaged 20 points, 10.6 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.9 steals and 1.3 blocks over Endicott's 7-3 January run.

Bosse, a senior guard from Manchester, averaged 16 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists over a 2-7 January campaign for Plymouth State.

Lavoie, a senior guard, averaged 18 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.3 steals as Division I Pinkerton went 10-0 in January.

Carlile, a junior from Hudson, averaged 19.2 points, 3.6 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 3 steals over a 5-0 January run for Division II Concord Christian.

Steeves, a sophomore forward from Bedford, recorded seven goals and one assist as Minnesota Duluth went 4-2-0 in January. He is tied for fourth in NCAA Division I with 22 goals.

Doherty, a sophomore center, logged five goals and five assists over a 5-0-1 January slate for Division I Concord.

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.