SALEM - After totaling 16 first-half points on 25 percent shooting, top-seeded Springfield needed something good to happen.
"It was a matter of seeing one go in," Springfield coach Eric Fender said.
Junior Eoghan Bees scored 17 points in the final 9 1/2 minutes to lift the Tigers over Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas, 51-47, in the Salem Division III district championship game Friday.
"Eoghan has been consistent for us all year, but this was his best shooting game," Fender said.
Bees kept shooting after a slow start and finished with a career-high 21 points to lead the Tigers back from a 11-point deficit in the third quarter.
"I saw a couple rim out, but I knew they were going to go in," Bees said. "It felt good to help the team win."
"He had a tremendous, tremendous game," St. Thomas coach Joe Harold said. "Except for being on this bench, it was great to see someone do that."
Springfield has won 11 straight games to improve to 21-2 on the season. The district title is the Tigers' first since 2003.
"You've got to have confidence in what you do," Fender said. "If you're open, you better take a shot. You have to be a threat when you're on the floor."
Senior Ron Rogers scored 10 of his 15 points in the first half to keep the Tigers within range. Junior Jared McTigue is emerging as a threat and scored eight points along with a handful of blocked shots.
"The first three quarters we were down a little bit and we played our game in the fourth quarter," Rogers said.
"We came out flat, but we've done that before," Bees said. "We knew we were going to be OK because we outwork everyone."
Springfield trailed by as many as 10 points in the first half, but Harold said he felt the game slipping away late in the half as Rogers' three-pointer cut the margin to 22-16.
"We were extremely glad to be down six at halftime," Fender said.
"They should have been," Harold said. "They took every punch we threw at them and stayed true to their game plan."
The Tigers shot 12-of-18 from the field in the second half for the victory.
"They dominated the second half," Harold said. "They did everything better on both ends of the floor in the second half."
"We were finally making shots," Fender said. "We tell the kids never give up. It's a game of runs."
Springfield fell behind 32-22 as Vince Fisher steal led to a Tyler Moeglin three-pointer with 4:35 to play in the third quarter.
Bees felt the turning point came right after that when McTigue hit a pair of turnaround jumpers to pull the Tigers within six.
"His best games have been the last two games," Bees said. "When he's aggressive like he was tonight, he's one of the best inside players in the area."
It was all Bees after that. He hit a three-pointer late in the third quarter and scored 14 more in the deciding fourth quarter.
"Rogers took a lot of our attention and energy," Harold said. "We lost track of Bees."
Trailing 37-32, Bees scored 11 points in a 13-0 Tiger fourth-quarter run that gave Springfield the lead for good.
"He steps up when he needs to," Rogers said.
Bees' steal and layup and ensuing free throw gave the Tigers their first lead at 38-37 with six minutes remaining.
He followed with a three-pointer and another jumper and McTigue hit a short shot to push the lead to 45-37 with 3:31 left.
Bees and Rogers each made 3-of-4 free throws from there out and the Tiger defense took over.
"We tell them don't ever give up until the final bell sounds and we didn't," Fender said.
Springfield advances to the regional semifinals at the Canton Fieldhouse at 6:15 p.m. Wednesday. The Tigers will play the winner of tonight's game between seventh-ranked Bedford Chanel and Beachwood.
"We have to come in and work hard all week," Bees said. "If we work hard like we've done all year, I think we'll win a game at regionals."
ST. THOMAS: 14- 8-12-13-47
ST. THOMAS AQUINAS SCORING: Will Burger 0-0-0, Tyler Moeglin 3-0-7, Sean Dempsey 0-2-2, Connor Duplin 7-7-26, Adam Piciacchia 3-0-7. Jay Bond 1-0-2, Vince Fisher 0-1-1, Anthony Snyder 1-0-2. TEAM TOTALS: 15-47, 10-12: 47.
SPRINGFIELD SCORING: Eoghan Bees 7-4-21, Nick Russell 3-0-6, Tom Mastran 0-0-0, Ron Rogers 4-6-15, Jared McTigue 4-0-8, Joe Ohlin 0-1-1, Ryan Stacy 0-0-0. TEAM TOTALS: 18-42, 11-14: 51.
Three-point goals: St. Thomas Aquinas 7-19 (Duplin 5, Moeglin, Piciacchia), Springfield 4-14 (Bees 3, Rogers).