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Rickert proves he's the fastest draw

ST. CLOUD -- Rick Rickert played Wyatt Earp on Thursday night. Walking into an ambush, the Minnesota-bound senior stared coolly into the face of his rivals and refused to blink. Neither the smothering St. Cloud Tech defense, nor the rabid Tigers ...

ST. CLOUD -- Rick Rickert played Wyatt Earp on Thursday night. Walking into an ambush, the Minnesota-bound
senior stared coolly into the face of his rivals and refused to blink. Neither the smothering St. Cloud Tech defense, nor
the rabid Tigers student section could prevent him from levying his brand of justice and when the smoke cleared, Duluth
East had qualified for its first state basketball tournament since 1996 with a 49-40 victory in the Section 8AAAA final.
"I never heard them," said Rickert of the Tigers fans. Others in the crowd did, including a few St. Cloud-area
activities directors who voiced their displeasure with what they considered tasteless taunting of the Greyhounds' star. As
excessive as it may have been, especially during the first half when Duluth East was attacking the basket directly in front
of the Tech faithful, the jeering had little effect on Rickert who calmly decimated the Tigers.
"Before my first free throw I looked at some of them," said Rickert. "Then it was just the hoop."
Moments later, it was just the bottom of the net and an icy, defiant stare.
"I'm mentally stronger than you and you can't phase me," said Rickert, defining the look.
He proved it throughout the game's final three quarters, helping East erase a 14-point deficit with a 38-12 run.
In all, Rickert scored 36 points, nine of which came from three-point range, and grabbed 14 rebounds. His dominance
was complete. The Tigers, however, stormed out the a 14-0 lead before Rickert could come to life. Then the 6-foot,
10-inch center slipped from the post to the outside, away from the Tech double team, and drained the first of his three
three-pointers to wake the slumbering Greyhounds. East then took control, outscoring the Tigers 20-5 and 14-5 in the
second and third quarters respectively. Tech clawed back to within four points during the fourth quarter, but again
Rickert quelled the rally with five points in the game's final 2:40 to seal the victory.
"It's a great feeling," said Rickert, who, with the win, achieved the only prep honor that's eluded him.
"It's a dream. I was just wondering when it was going to happen."
The answer came Thursday for the star and his departing head coach, Bob Kunze.
"This the best one because it's the last one," Kunze said.

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