CANTON TWP. -- After seeing a 10-point halftime lead slip away last Saturday night, Armand Fontes took matters into his own hands.
The Canton South High School senior point guard's 3-pointer, which just beat the buzzer, gave the Wildcats boys' basketball team a 55-52 win over Malvern. Fontes clutch shot also gave his team the championship of the inaugural Wildcat Classic, a two-day holiday tournament which Canton South hosted at Red Ash Gymnasium.
South head coach Frank Spotleson was happy to see Fontes hit the big shot. He said Fontes is "most definitely" the leader of the team.
"His experience is priceless whether you need someone to take a huge shot like that or lead the team daily in practice situations," Spotleson said. "He is an example to the other players who at some time this year will have to step up and deliver."
Malvern tied the game at 52 with 1:03 left in regulation. South then pulled the ball out for the final shot. The Hornets fouled South three times as South stalled, and the Wildcats called timeout with 13.1 seconds left to set up a final shot.
On the inbound, Fontes received the ball at the top of the key, took some time off the clock, dribbled to his right and pulled up from the right wing. His 3-pointer went through with 0.5 left on the clock which sent the home crowd into a frenzy.
Spotleson said the win over the Hornets was important for a couple of reasons.
"They are a very good team and they are very well coached," he said. "They had just beaten a Suburban League opponent the night before and were on the verge of beating us at home. Malvern is a backyard rival for the most part and had a large following at our holiday tournament.
"We faced a great deal of adversity, and we were able to perform and come out on top against a very good basketball team."
Fontes led his team in scoring with 16 points and Kyle Deckerd finished with 14.
Malvern's Max Kapron had the best offensive performance of the night as he finished with a game-high 28 points.
Over the two-day tournament, South hosted Tallmadge High School in addition to Malvern and Tusky Valley.
Spotleson enjoyed the tournament, and he said he would like it to return.
"I am very much in favor of keeping the tournament, especially if we can attract some local teams to play," he said. "It was the first time Canton South has hosted something like this and for the most part it was very successful and very well run."
The Wildcats defeated Tusky Valley 67-53 in their semifinal game on Friday. Malvern defeated Tallmadge in the first semifinal to set up Saturday's championship game.
Fontes was at it again against the Trojans as he led all scorers with 25 points. Jason Merriweather added 14 and Deckerd finished with 11.
With the two wins last week, South continues its best start in quite some time. The Wildcats are now 8-0 as the team begins the new calendar year on Friday.