WMBD/WYZZ-TV - PEORIA, Ill. -- Last year Illini Central High School was just glad to make it to the state basketball finals for the first time.
This year, the top-ranked Cougars admit, is different. Illini Central has spent most of the season at No. 1 in the Class 1A poll and is favored to win a state title this weekend at Carver Arena.
Which puts a big bullseye on the chest of Illini Central (26-5).
"It's hard, people know us well," said senior guard Duncan McClure. "We have to be ready every game because every team comes out hot. They all want to knock off the number one ranked team. It makes it tough."
Last March, the Cougars finished third at state.
"This year we're ranked number one most of the year, we're a huge target, every team is bringing big crowds because they all want to beat us," said senior Grant Bale. "We prepare for teams to play their best."
Illini Central plays Nokomis (24-9) in the 2 p.m. state semifinal Friday.
Copyright 2013 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved.