PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — Peoria High is playing in the final week of the girls basketball season.

The Lions are pointing to their final game of last season as one of the reasons why. Morton beat Peoria High on its home floor in a regional title game.

“I feel like the loss motivated us to do better and work harder,” said junior Allannah Jackson. “In the summer, we worked very hard to get to this point.”

Peoria High coach Meechie Edwards believes that loss motivated his team to have a big offseason of work outs.

“It was a big factor on how we played this summer, how we started the school year and got the season going,” said Edwards. “We kept thinking about it. It was in the back of our minds. Now we’re here.”

Now Peoria High (27-3) is a state-ranked team, winners of 20 of its last 21 games and one victory away from a trip to state for the first time since 2001. The Lions play Chicago Heights Marian Catholic (28-7) in the class 3A Pontiac Super-Sectional for a state berth Monday.

“It means a lot (to play for a state bid). It’s one of the biggest goals of the year,” said junior Aaliyah Guyton. “To get there would be an amazing feeling. We’re looking forward to it.”

On the way to this super-sectional game, the Lions have beaten schools like Notre Dame, Normal Community, Dunlap and Washington. The players say, the bigger the game, the bigger their performance.

Now they are one win away from the state’s biggest stage.

“That’s different from previous years. In the past, we have coward-down to other teams,” said senior Denali Craig-Edwards. “This year we have stepped up. It’s a big improvement.”