Dec. 3—GRAND FORKS — Grand Forks Central 6-foot-4 junior Erick Paye was asked what he focused on in the offseason.
Paye, already one of the most physically imposing athletes in the area in years, averaged more than 15 points per game last season.
"More of an offensive threat," Paye said.
It's just one game into his junior year, but that appears to be a dangerous development for opposing defenses.
Paye scored 26 points to lead the Knights to a 77-59 win over East Grand Forks on Friday night in the Central gym.
"I go out there and do whatever it takes to win," Paye said.
It was a combination of Paye's physical dominance and the sharp-shooting of brothers Ross and Cole Wilber that helped the Knights build separation.
Paye had 10 points in the game's first 10 minutes but a drive by East Grand Forks' Cooper Smith kept the Wave hanging around at 19-15 Central with 7:15 left in the first half.
That's when Cole Wilber, a 5-9 junior guard, and Ross Wilber, a 5-7 sophomore guard, hit back-to-back 3-pointers to stretch the lead to 10 points.
Central coach Dan Carlson told the Wilber brothers they'll have extra space to operate when Paye controls the inside.
"(Paye) goes well, and you're going to get shots," Carlson said of his message. "(Paye) had a run, and they're getting wide-open jumpers. I thought we were good in transition. We got good transition shots. The more easy shots you can get the better."
Ross Wilber finished with 16 points, while Cole Wilber had 10. Jack Simmers chipped in eight points.
"Our team is confident in our shooters," Paye said. "Those are some great shooters."
The Knights led 36-27 at halftime and the game was never closer than nine points the rest of the way.
The Wave were led by Austin Risling and Clyde Anderson. Both players ended with 14 points. Drew Carpenter had 10 points, while Caleb Zejdlik added eight.
The Wave have a reputation for pressure defense, and Carlson felt the Knights handled it well.
"I thought we handled the aggressiveness well," Carlson said. "That's great to have for a first game. We turned it over too much, but we didn't shy away from it. We played strong."
The Knights even used Paye in the open court to escape some of the backcourt pressure.
"I think he's worked on his game to handle the ball a little more," Carlson said. "He should. He's a young man, why not expand that part of his game? We're going to look for him to do that a little bit."
Halftime: GFC 36, EGF 27
EGF Senior High — Austin Risling 14, Clyde Anderson 14, Chase Lindgren 3, Drew Carpenter 10, Cooper Smith 7, Damian Bushaw 3, Caleb Zejdlik 8
GF Central — Jack Simmers 8, Ross Wilber 16, Cole Wilber 10, Leo Strandell 6, Erick Paye 26, Trey Wyman 6, Chancellor Colgrove 2, Noah Lund 6