Dragons crawl past Bulldogs

West Davidson's Andrew Kahn (4) falls and draws a charging foul on Thomasville's Cedric Greene (23) during their game in Thomasville on Friday. (Photo by Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch)

THOMASVILLE | West Davidson’s boys raced to a huge early lead at Thomasville on Friday night, then basically went to sleep.

Unlike the classic children’s tale, the hare woke up in plenty of time to beat the tortoise to the finish line.

The Dragons did everything right early and built a 19-5 lead after the first quarter, then essentially played keep-away for a 49-37 Central Carolina Conference victory over the Bulldogs. It was the second such win this week, after West beat Lexington in similar fashion on Tuesday.

West coach Derrick Stokes insisted after Friday’s victory, his team was not trying to completely slam on the brakes for three full quarters. “I fussed at them at halftime, to finish this game out,” Stokes said. “Then they came out flat, and Thomasville did a great job hustling like always and got back in the ballgame, and we were lucky to hang on.

“We thought if we worked them hard enough, we’d wear their legs and get layups. But we started taking dumb shots, and making dumb passes. So it’s not like we were trying to hold it, we were just running almost like a Princeton offense. Spread them out, take our time, and get a layup.”

The Dragons executed that offense with surgical precision in the first quarter, bolting to a 10-0 lead. Tyler Grooms scored 13 of his game-high 17 points in the period, with a pair of 3-pointers, two buckets in the lane and a three-point play with one second left in the period.

West extended that lead to 32-14 at the half, but Thomasville charged back when the two teams came out of the locker room. Brian McCleeven scored on consecutive possessions to open the half, then Kamel Henry banked in a 3 at the buzzer to get the Bulldogs within 36-25. Building on that momentum, Thomasville found Akeem Davis in the lane for back-to-back scores to start the fourth, and all of a sudden Thomasville was within 36-29.

But the Dragons steadied the ship, and made enough plays down the stretch to hang on.

Austin Teague added 13 points for the Dragons (3-5, 8-13), and Zach Queen added 11. Thomasville dipped to 2-6 in the CCC, 6-13 overall despite nine points from Demoris Payne.

Jason Queen can be reached at 249-3981, ext. 220 or jason.queen@the-dispatch.com.