McLEANSBORO — C.J. Diel scored 17 points to lead the Golden Aces to a 59-44 victory in the semi finals of the IHSA Class 2A Regional tournament on Wednesday night.

“I just thought it’s time to step up, it’s the regionals. I need to get some buckets and help the team to victory,” said Diel after the win which vaults the Aces into their first regional championship game since 2008. Friday night, Mt. Carmel (13-14) will face Flora (21-6). Early in the season (on Dec. 8), Flora edged the Aces, 47-44, at the hilltop.

“He took it at everyone strong,” said Aces coach Tyler Buss of the 6-foot-5 Diel. “When he does that, he’s hard to guard.

Fairfield (17-13) led by as many as nine points in the first half, but when the Mules started to cool off, the Aces caught them to force a 31-all tie at halftime.

After being held without a basket in the first half, Reece Metcalf scored the Aces first nine points of the second half to key the getaway. Fairfield never regained its’ shooting touch, hitting only 32% from the field on the game.

Levi Laws added 16 for the Aces, followed by 15 from Metcalf. Tristan Fry paced Fairfield with 18 points.