Rick Rickert must feel like pro wrestler Andre the Giant. Both dwarf the competition.
The 6-foot-10 Duluth East Greyhounds junior center is one of the state's most sought-after boys' basketball recruits. Rickert brings his traveling sideshow to Brainerd High School at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday for a Section 8, Class 4A game against the Warriors.
Brainerd coach Brad Amundson watched Rickert score 49 points Dec. 29 in an 85-58 win over Fridley for third place in the Wood City Classic at Cloquet. Rickert, who had 36 points in the first half, added 21 rebounds and four blocked shots. He was 19 of 25 from the field and 11 of 13 at the foul line.
"He's phenomenal," Amundson said. "He can go inside, go outside, and is their best passer. He can go inside and he shoots the three a little bit. He's getting recruited by every school in the U.S. We've got our hands full."
Amundson said the Warriors, whose tallest starter is 6-foot-4 Adam Hardy, can compete with Rickert and the Greyhounds, who are 5-3.
"They start a pretty big lineup -- 6-6, 6-4, 6-1 and 6-0 (besides Rickert)," Amundson said. "If we utilize our quickness out front, harass the ball and create pressure, we will be OK. If they get the ball inside we will have problems because of the height they've got on us."
In the opening round of the Wood City Classic Dec. 28, Rickert hit just 5 of 26 shots in a 62-58 loss to fourth-ranked Eagan, which countered with 7-foot Ryan Stirmlinger. Rickert finished with 18 points, nine rebounds, three assists and three blocks while limiting Stirmlinger to just five points.
"We can't let the ball get in his hands," Amundson said. "If the ball gets in his hands a lot of good things happen. He can score down low. Outside he's such a good passer. He makes their other players better. He's a special player. He makes everyone else look good on the floor.
"We're definitely going to come after him. We won't change what we do. We will be aggressive. We will be intense. If the ball is out of his hands we will be fine. The more touches he gets the more it's to his advantage."
The feisty Warriors are coming off their first win, 74-56 over Burnsville Dec. 28. They are 1-3 in their first season with Amundson as their head coach.
"I wouldn't say it's a building year," Amundson said. "Coming in with a new coach there are always things that are the same and things that are different. That's part of the building process.
"We we want to have a great year. We want to have a great finish. Come tournament time if we get the progression I feel we can get we will be OK.
"We felt very good about our team coming into the season. I don't like to use the word rebuilding year. We are playing for now."
Tuesday will mark Rickert's third game against the Warriors. As a freshman he had 18 points and eight rebounds in a 54-30 win over Brainerd. Last season he had 12 points in a 50-34 win.
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