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Dragons drub Southeast Guilford to reach NewBridge final

West Davidson’s Tyler Grooms shoots over Southeast Guilford’s Joshua Crutchfield during the NewBridge Christmas Classic at Ledford on Thursday. (Photo by Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch)

WALLBURG | Tyler Grooms thought about it, shook his head, smiled and said, “It’s crazy.”

It’s the kind of crazy West Davidson hopes will stay around all season and beyond.

Grooms, a lanky 6-3 sophomore, led the way with 17 points as suddenly sizzling West Davidson drubbed Southeast Guilford 66-49 in the semifinals of the NewBridge Bank Christmas Classic on Thursday at Ledford.

After starting off the season 0-7, the Dragons have won four in a row — the last two by large margins — and will play for the tournament championship against Central Davidson at 8 p.m. Friday at Ledford.

“It’s crazy,” Grooms said. “I’m speechless about it. We started off like 0-7, I think. We just completely turned it around. We finally caught on to the system. It’s just been going.”

Yes, the system.

First-year coach Derrick Stokes has installed a very detailed pro-style system that involves constant movement on offense and defense. That involves a learning process.

“I keep telling people and I don’t know if they think I’m kidding or not,” Stokes said. “It is a complicated system. I got it from the NBA. We play about 10 different defenses and they all look similar. That’s what we’re trying to do. It’s a lot of rotation. It’s a lot to learn. They’re playing with confidence and they’re just playing basketball now.”

It would appear the Dragons are indeed learning.

“Well, it’s repetitions,” Grooms said. “It’s a new system. We’ve been practicing a lot.”

Zach Queen and Austin Teague each scored 13 points while David Monk had 12 to round out a balanced attack. The Dragons put on a dizzying array of crisp passing that led to eight 3-point baskets — four by Grooms — and several backdoor layups. The Falcons (2-10) never could get in any offensive rhythm because of the disruption caused by West’s defenses.

Yes, crazy.

“Even when we were 0-6, our players believed in what they were doing,” Stokes said. “We knew if we worked hard, we’d be where we are right now. We’ve just got to keep improving. This can’t be the best we are.”

The Dragons were trailing 7-5 early when they reeled off a 12-2 run highlighted by two 3-pointers from the wing by Grooms. The lead quickly grew to 17 in the second quarter as Queen got the hot hand, scoring 10 of his 13 points in the period. West led 39-18 at halftime.

Queen’s 3-pointer gave West a 43-20 lead early in the third quarter. The teams essentially traded points in the period, which translated into West putting this one away with a quarter remaining. The Dragons led 56-35 at the end of the third quarter and the lead was no less than 15 points in the fourth.

And here the Dragons are, with a chance to win the Christmas tournament title for the first time in many years.

Indeed, crazy.

“When we were 0-5, we were thinking about it,” Stokes said. “That was our goal.”

Joshua Crutchfield led Southeast Guilford with 13 points.

Mike Duprez can be reached at 249-3981, ext. 218 or