Paye drives Grand Forks Central to 64-63 comeback win over Red River

Erick Paye finished the game with a season-high 36 points and came up with the game-saving block.

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Grand Forks Central's Erick Paye lines up his free throw shot during a home boys basketball game against crosstown rival Red River at Grand Forks Central High School on Thursday, January 27, 2022.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

GRAND FORKS — After pushing his team to a second-half comeback, Grand Forks Central’s Erick Paye sent Grand Forks Red River’s last chance at victory into the fifth row of the bleachers.

His monstrous block on Reis Rowekamp at the end of Thursday’s 64-63 Central win was just part of his impressive performance. His season-high 36 points were the catalyst needed to overcome the 14-point deficit the Knights faced entering the second half.

“I saw my teammate get off him so I just ran to him as fast as possible and then pulled a Zion. Cocked that thing back and blocked it into the stands,” Paye said following the win.

Paye also made those big plays in Central’s 16-4 start to the second half. He had 22 points by the 12:50 mark, with six of them coming off rebounds.

As a team, after not making any 3-pointers in the first half, the Knights made three from behind the arc in clutch moments and shot 47% from the field. Central coach Dan Carlson also put an emphasis on the team’s defensive play coming out of the break.


“Defensively I thought we were pretty good. Our pressure was good, out guarded them and got them to miss some shots. They are a good offensive team and you could see that in the first half,” he said.

In the first half Red River shot 63% from the field, with Rowekamp hitting on some deep field goals and totaling 17 points going into the locker room. Carter Byron won the majority of his matchups against Paye in the first half, collecting five rebounds.

“Coach Carlson just told us to keep our composure and just keep doing the same things and that’s what we did,” said Paye. “I just needed to get the job done for my team, that’s really it.”

During the second-half surge, Paye and Cole Wilbur worked together to turn the tide and gain the lead at the 9:35 mark. A Red River technical foul brought Wilbur to the line, hitting both. Then Paye cashed in his own rebound to tie the game 48-48. Finally, Jack Simmers would sink an easy layup to give the Knights their first lead of the game, all under a 30-second span.

Red River would retake the lead on the next possession, but Paye would make them pay again by hitting his only 3-pointer of the night. From there, Central was able to hold off Rowekamp and Paine Parks before Paye put the icing on the cake with four seconds remaining with his block.

“That was quite a play, but he did that on his own,” Central head coach Dan Carlson said. “We want to make plays that win games and he made a play. Credit to him for making a play and not taking a foul there.”

It is Central’s second win in a row following a four-game losing streak against some top state talent.


Grand Forks Central 64,

Grand Forks Red River 63

First half - Red River 36, Central 22

GFC – Erick Paye 36, Cole Wilbur 12, Jack Simmers 8, Leo Strandell 2

GFRR – Reis Rowekamp 21, Paine Parks 16, Zac Kraft 9, Carter Byron 8, Gunnar Heuchert 5, Logan Arason 2, Pearce Parks 2

Digital Content Producer and Sports Reporter at the Grand Forks Herald since December of 2020. Maxwell can be contacted at
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