The chase for the IHSA Class 2A boys state basketball championship began in earnest on Monday, with first-round games played at 32 regional sites around the state.
At McLeansboro, Carmi and Fairfield both advanced into the semi finals with wins. The Bulldogs ousted Hamilton County in an all-Black Diamond Conference matchup, 45-38. It was a mild upset win for Carmi (11-16) as far as the coaches seedings are concerned. The Bulldogs were seeded fifth, just behind Hamilton County (6-20).
Fairfield (17-12) survived a scare from Lawrenceville (5-22), which forced an overtime period before the Mules finally prevailed, 64-62.
Carmi returns tonight (Tuesday) to play top-seed Flora (20-6) in a semi final game at 7:30 p.m. On Wednesday, Fairfield will meet No. 2 seed Mt. Carmel (12-14) at 7:30 p.m., with the two semi final winners advancing to Friday’s championship game at 7:30 p.m. A berth in the West Frankfort Sectional will be on the line.
The Aces are 2-1 versus the remainder of the regional field. Tyler Buss’ team defeated Fairfield, 76-66, on Jan. 17 at the Carmi Invitational Tournament, one night after downing host Carmi, 67-46. On Dec. 8, Flora edged Mt. Carmel, 47-44, at the Hilltop.
• In Class 1A, Red Hill and North Clay advanced on the first night of play in the Albion Regional. Red Hill eliminated Clay City 58-33, while North Clay ousted Noble, 47-31.
On Wednesday in a semi final doubleheader, Red Hill faces top-seed Cisne at 6 p.m., followed by North Clay versus second-seeded Edwards County.
The championship game begins at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.