Rick Rickert should be a thoroughbred, not a greyhound.
The Duluth East Greyhounds' 6-foot-10 junior scored 44 points (22 in each half), grabbed 17 rebounds, blocked eight shots and had three assists in an 86-66 boys' basketball victory over the Brainerd Warriors on Tuesday.
Rickert, one of the nation's most highly recruited players, not only can put up flashy numbers, he can take the ball down the court, dribble between his legs, and throws slick post moves at defenders.
"Rick is the real deal," East coach Bob Kunze said. "He comes ready to play. He knows he's going to get double- and triple-teamed and he's going to get roughed up. You saw one heck of a game from the young man tonight.
"He was coming off 49 points his last game (Dec. 29 against Fridley). It's not like this was a lucky game."
Brainerd was lucky Rickert missed a few times. He finished 18 of 29 from the field (62 percent) and 7 of 9 from the foul line (78 percent). He scored East's first 12 points in just four minutes of the opening period.
Rickert had two dunks, buried jump shots from the baseline and scored on putbacks, turnaround jumpers and reverse layups. He also went coast-to-coast for a layup and hit one 3-pointer.
"I haven't been coaching very long," Brainerd coach Brad Amundson said, "but that's the best individual game I have ever seen by any high school player I have watched. I wasn't lying when I said he could do it all.
"You don't see a man 6-10 who can shoot the jump shot and has good footwork. And, he's only a junior. He can do it all. He's a great player."
Despite shooting just 34 percent from the field the feisty Warriors hung with East until the last 3 1/2 minutes. Fifteen turnovers by the Greyhounds enabled Brainerd to stay close.
With 3:43 left Brainerd trailed only 71-62 following two free throws by Matt Yde, who came off the bench to lead the Warriors with 25 points, and a steal by reserve Justin Heitkamp, who scored 11.
East outscored the Warriors 15-4 in the final 3:26 with Rickert providing seven points in the final burst.
"Our offense hurt us," Amundson said. "We're better than 34 percent. We've got to start draining some of our shots. If we could have done that on three or four possessions we wouldn't have had to go helter-skelter on defense and take chances."
The Warriors' shooting also was helter-skelter. They were 11 of 37 in the first half and 15 of 39 in the second.
"We didn't shoot well in the first half and that hurt us," Amundson said. "In the second half we did cut (the deficit) down. Our kids could have quit but they didn't. I liked the effort we got. We didn't give up and we kept playing."
East, meanwhile, shot 60 percent from the floor (33 of 55). Complementing Rickert was 6-5 senior Colin Ellefson, who contributed 24 points and seven rebounds. Shooting primarily in the paint Ellefson was 7 of 10 from the field and 10 of 12 at the line.
"Colin is a nice complementary player," Kunze said. "He has a nice post-up game. He's not afraid to go to the basket. He gives us the luxury of moving Rick out on the floor."
Duluth East 24 18 19 25 --86
Brainerd 9 19 18 20 --66
DULUTH EAST (86)
Ryan Crain 3, Luke Marsolek 3, Greg Anderson 4, Colin Ellefson 24, Rick Rickert 44, Mike Sippel 8. Totals: FG 33-55 (60 percent), FT 19-25 (76 percent). Overall -- 6-3.
Dan Karlgaard 5, Joe Morgan 3, Mitch Feierabend 3, Mike Zauhar 10, Adam Hardy 6, Matt Yde 25, Justin Heitkamp 11, Matt Means 3. Totals: FG 26-76 (34 percent), 7-11 (64 percent). Overall -- 1-4. Next game -- Brainerd hosts Alexandria 7:30 p.m. Friday.
3-point baskets -- DE 1-6 (Rickert), B 7-27 (Karlgaard, Morgan, Feierabend, Heitkamp 3, Means). Rebounds -- DE 31 (Rickert 17), B 23 (Karlgaard 6). Turnovers -- DE 15, B 6. Total fouls -- DE 13, B 19. Fouled out -- Feierabend. Assists -- DE 24 (Sippel 6, Marsolek 6), B 21 (Karlgaard 6, Zauhar 6).
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