Buffs' season comes to an end

By Tim Chambers
STAR CORRESPONDENT
tchambers@starhq.com

   BRISTOL, Va. -- They say baseball is a game of inches, but last night basketball proved to be likewise. A 7-0 run in the final minute of the game propelled King to a 57-50 win over Milligan Thursday at the Virginia High School Bearcat Gymnasium.
   Milligan suffered three close losses at the hands of King during the regular season.
   The Buffaloes was coming off an emotional win on Wednesday night against Covenant. In that game, the Buffs battled back from being down in double-digits late in the game to win on a last-second three from Eric Coggins.
   "You hope to be in a position to win at the end game," said Milligan head coach Tony Wallingford. "We had several chances, we came down and didn't get a good look and failed to execute what was called, so I take full responsibility for that. I should have called a timeout near the end."
   This game was like a classic boxing match from the get-go, with two heavyweights going toe-to-toe center court.
   After swapping free throws, King took the lead on a Derek Linkous jumper at 3-1.
   Milligan gained a 6-4 lead at the 15:50 mark after a three from deep in the corner by Eric Coggins founds its mark, and Jon Harris converted two off a nice feed from Scott Ferguson.
   Milligan opened up a four-point advantage on a runner from Bradley Blair and a deuce by JaKeith Hairston from the corner to go up 16-10. King used an 8-0 run off hoops from Justin Seaver, C.J. Manahan and Linkous, along with two free tosses from James Chapman, to take a 14-10 lead.
   Milligan responded with Jon Harris being a workhorse down low for the Buffaloes. Six points from Harris, one being a breakaway, and a single hoop from Craig Emmert tied the score at 18.
   Emmert continued to work hard inside to keep the score tied at 20. Linkous answered with a three-ball, then Dusan Vucen tipped in a miss as the lead grew to five in King's favor.
   A Hairston three-point launch along with a nifty three-point play from Jordan Simmons got Milligan within two at 27-25. King closed the half in fashion as Eric Ely nailed one from the side for a 31-25 lead at the half.
   Milligan came out in the second half like a smoking cannon, with Harris scoring a hoop, followed by a Michael Morrell three, slicing the lead to 31-30 at the 18:35 mark. Manahan continued his stellar play with a floater, raising the advantage TO three.
   After another Manahan score gave King an 38-34 advantage, Milligan surged back behind a three-point missile from Coggins. A Ferguson steal and layin gave Milligan a 39-38 lead at the nine-minute mark.
   Milligan gained its largest lead of the game at six when Roy Richmond found a wide open Hariston in the corner for another trey, making the score 44-38 Buffaloes.
   Milligan had a chance to extend the lead when Coggins appeared to be mugged while attempting a snowbird layup, but the official ruled the ball out on Milligan, and King took advantage of the situation.
   Three crucial misses at the foul line allowed King to hack away at the lead, finally tying the score at 47 on a three from Manahan. King pushed forward at 50-48, but the Buffs answered on nice reverse layin from Harris, knotting the score at 50.
   After a King timeout, Manahan drilled a three inside the one-minute mark, giving the Tornado a three-point advantage. Milligan missed two shots down the stretch while King converted from the foul line to eek out a close win.
   "It was a great play by a great player (Manahan)," added Wallingford. "I was proud of our kids and the overall effort they gave during the entire game. They have nothing to be ashamed of."
   Harris managed a game-high 15 for Milligan while Emmert added nine in a losing cause.
   With the loss Milligan closes out its regular season at 12-10, 14-17.