'Big Shot' Ambanza's massive make lifts Wesmen

Narcisse Ambanza's halfcourt shot forced overtime, where the Wesmen hung on to beat the Brandon Bobcats. (Kelly Morton photo)
Narcisse Ambanza's halfcourt shot forced overtime, where the Wesmen hung on to beat the Brandon Bobcats. (Kelly Morton photo)

BY DAVID LARKINS, Winnipeg Sun

BRANDON, Man — One big shot deserved another.

And in the end, it was the man who was nicknamed Big Shot in his days as a star at Toronto's Eastern Commerce Collegiate who landed the biggest dagger of the Winnipeg Wesmen basketball season.

Narcisse Ambanza hit a double-clutch, halfcourt shot at the buzzer to force overtime and scored a game-high 36 points to lift the Wesmen to a 105-103 OT win over the Brandon Bobcats Friday night.

VIDEO: Head coach Mike Raimbault on a much-needed Wesmen victory

The Wesmen, who entered the game having lost four of their last five, improved to 4-9 in beating Brandon for the 12th straight time, dating back to 2012.

Ambanza was heard walking off the court telling teammates "I get buzzers", and his improbable heave as the buzzer sounded was the stuff of epic highlight reels, coming moments after Brandon's Tyvon Cooper hit a fading three-point shot with three seconds to go that broke a 90-90 tie.

Ambanza took the ensuing inbound pass, nearly had it stolen, and regained control just in time to lean into the 45-foot shot that banked in and silenced the boisterous Brandon crowd.

Ambanza added nine rebounds and five assists and was a steadying force for the Wesmen when they needed it to come from nine points down entering the fourth quarter.

Third-year forward Billy Yaworsky scored a career-high 24 points, hitting seven of 12 three-pointers and a couple in overtime to give the Wesmen some secondary scoring on a night where they needed the offence.

Nathaniel Johnson had 13 points and Sean Tarver added 12 points and eight rebounds for the Wesmen, who led by as many as nine in the second quarter but went into the fourth down 73-66.

Cooper finished one assist shy of a triple-double, notching a team-high 25 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists to lead Brandon (6-5). Jonathan Range added 22 points, Pookie Saunders dropped 20 and John Paul chipped in with 14 points and eight rebounds.  

The teams meet again Saturday night in Winnipeg at 7 p.m.