Injuries temper Milligan rout of Warren Wilson

By Matt Hill

   Most college basketball teams would be thrilled with a 64-point victory, but it's a little different when two starters get seriously injured.
   That's exactly what happened to the Milligan College Buffaloes Tuesday night. The 'Buffs easily defeated Warren Wilson 97-33, but standouts Michael Morrell and JaKeith Hairston were hurt in the game.
   Hairston suffered an ankle injury, while Morrell injured his toe.
   "We're cautiously happy tonight," Milligan head coach Tony Wallingford said. "They're both going to be evaluated (Wednesday). JaKeith simply caught the ball and changed direction as he planted and turned it outside. And Michael came down and hit that toe directly on the floor and hyper-extended it. So both will be evaluated, and we hope they'll be ready Thursday. Those are two starters."
   Both Hairston and Morrell were injured in the second half with the game assuredly in Milligan's hands.
   As for Morrell, his injury midway through the second half occurred as he was driving inside.
   "When I got undercut the toe had just bent back real bad," Morrell said. "It swelled up pretty quickly, but I'll be alright. I'm sure I'll be ready to go on Thursday."
   It's a tough break for Milligan, especially in a game where the loudest cheer of the night came by the Milligan students after Warren Wilson broke a 17-0 'Buffalo run to open the contest.
   Milligan led 51-12 at the half. Warren Wilson shot 27 percent from the field in the game.
   "Especially in a game like this," Milligan guard Jordan Simmons said when asked if it was difficult for the team having two starters injured in a game like Tuesday night's. "Anytime it's hard to lose somebody, especially two players like that. Hopefully, we can get them rested tomorrow and get the soreness out of them. Hopefully, they will be ready to go for our first league game Thursday, because we really need them."
   Warren Wilson is definitely a team that could not beat a lot of the local high schools, so Morrell and the Buffaloes had to take a different approach to the contest.
   "We knew coming in that tonight we would in a lot of ways be playing against ourselves," Morrell said, who led all scorers with 19. "Before the game we challenged ourselves. I think we did well. The main thing is it got some guys some good experience tonight."
   Said Simmons: "We just wanted to make ourselves better tonight. We worked on the little things that we needed to work on. This kind of gave us a chance to practice it against a different team."
   The Buffaloes, now 2-2 overall with both wins being against Warren Wilson, will be back in action Thursday night in their Appalachian Athletic Conference Opener against Virginia Intermont.
   The 'Buffs are hoping to have Morrell and Hairston in the lineup, but Simmons says they will be ready no matter what.
   "We've got to approach it the same either way," he said. "Whoever we do have has to go out and do the job. Hopefully, we'll have those guys. If not, other guys are going to step up and bring our games to a higher level."
   *Joining Morrell in double figures were Marc Curry, Craig Emmert, Simmons and Jonathon Harris.
   *Milligan's women's team will play first against Virginia Intermont Thursday night in Bristol at 5:30 p.m. The men's game will follow immediately after that.