Jonathan Runyambo played soccer for years in his home country of Nigeria and for East Chapel Hill, but he didn’t know what a golden goal felt like until his first year playing basketball.
Runyambo scored a layup on a feed from Carter Collins at the buzzer as the Wildcats stunned Riverside 52-51 on Chambers Court Friday night.
The Pirates (12-5, 5-1 PAC-6) took a 51-49 lead after Justin Johnson canned a corner 3-pointer with 24 seconds remaining on a feed from Andrew Freeman. On the ensuing possession, East’s Clay Watkins was fouled, splitting two free throws to cut the deficit to 51-50.
East fouled with 6.1 seconds remaining. After Riverside missed the front end of a one-and-one, East’s Nick Decapite grabbed the rebound, threw it to Collins, who found Runyambo running to the basket free for a picture-perfect layup just as the horn expired.
“I saw Nick grab the rebound and give it to Carter,” said Runyambo. “My first instinct was to run down the floor and see what happens.”
Riverside was 7 of 8 from the foul line before the fatal final miss.
It was a critical road win for the Wildcats (13-2, 4-2), who already had lost road trips to Jordan and Northern. Riverside suffered its first PAC-6 loss of the year.
Carter finished with 21 points for East. Riverside was led by Andrew Freeman’s 15 points.
Runyambo’s layup at the buzzer. Runyambo scored on a jumper with 36 remaining to give East a 49-48 lead, before Johnson’s 3-pointer gave the advantage back to the Pirates.
They said it
“Our emphasis was to push. We had one timeout, but we were going to go. Most teams think you’re going to call timeout, but if we got the ball to Carter, we’re gone. And Jonathan ran from the backside to finish. It was a great effort by the kid. We fought and clawed and we found a way,” East coach Ray Hartsfield on his team’s instructions if Riverside missed thee free throw.
By the numbers
6: Turnovers by Riverside in the fourth quarter. They had four through the first three quarters against East Chapel Hill’s 2-3 zone.
11: Number of lead changes, including three in the final minute.