After trailing for most of the first half, Manhattan AA power WHEELS put together a strong second and edged Brooklyn AA contender South Shore 61-57 in PSAL basketball action at the Brooklyn Bridge Holiday Classic on Saturday. WHEELS struggled handling South Shore's zone press early, and Jalen Blaize's 3-pointer with 2:11 left in the first quarter gave the Vikings an 18-11 lead. Behind senior Marlon Moreta, WHEELS closed the quarter on a 14-4 run, and a 3-pointer by Brian Ortiz in the closing seconds made it 25-22 South Shore at the end of the opening frame.
After WHEELS tied the score at 27, free throws by Mikael Burnett Wala and Femi Odukale of South Shore put the Vikings ahead 35-30 with less than 1:00 to play in the half. Again, WHEELS closed the quarter strong, rattling off a 5-0 run in the last 45 ticks to tie the score at 35 at the break.
WHEELS took its first lead of the game, 37-35, when it scored the first bucket of the second half, but South Shore answered with a 5-0 run to regain the lead at 40-37 midway through the third. WHEELS then outscored the Vikings 10-6 for the remainder of the third quarter, giving the Wolves a 47-46 edge heading into the fourth.
WHEELS started to pull away in the final quarter, taking a 56-49 lead after Mohamed Sylla chased down an offensive rebound that lead to a 3-point play by Moreta with 3:15 remaining. WHEELS held a comfortable 60-52 advantage with only 34.6 ticks left, but things got interesting after Blaize nailed a 3-pointer at the 27.4 mark and was fouled in the act from behind the arc with only 8.9 seconds remaining. Blaize made 2 of 3 from the stripe, cutting the deficit to 60-57. Moreta was fouled in the backcourt on the next possession, and he sealed the 61-57 win for WHEELS by converting the second of two free throws with 3.9 on the clock.
Moreta finished with 20 points, Sylla had 7 points and 10 rebounds and Ortiz and Raheem Ragsdale had 9 points for WHEELS. Blaize had 20 points and Burnett Wala had 11 points for South Shore. Free throw disparity was a factor in this game, as WHEELS got to the line 31 times, converting 17, while the Vikings had only 10 attempts, converting 8 of them.